The speaking clock will have a Scottish twang for the first time ever

Oliver Gill
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Fifties Telephone
123 is the timely number. It will cost 45p a minute though (Source: Getty)

Wednesday 9 November is a date that will go down in history. Telecoms history, that is.

For the first time in its 80 years of existence, the BT speaking clock is to have a non-English voice, after Dundee's Alan Steadman was chosen to lend his celtic tones to notify callers of the exact time.

A nationwide competition was launched earlier this year and entrants were whittled down to three finalists. Steadman, who will be the fifth permanent voice, said that he was "both excited and nervous".

Read more: Now's your chance to be the voice of the speaking clock

No doubt this was due to the fact that previous voices of the speaking clock have been in considerable demand by the media and for voiceovers and personal appearances – according to BT.

"Competition was tough... But Alan stood out and I think we’ve found a fantastic new voice," said David Hay, head of BT Heritage and a member of the judging panel.

The time's are a-changing: the previous four precise voices

Name Years
Jane Cain 1936 – 1963
Pat Simmons 1963 – 1985
Brian Cobby 1985 – 2007
Sara Mendes da Costa 2007 – 2016

The popularity and importance of the speaking clock should not be underestimated, BT said, and highlighted that a startling 12m calls a year are made each year by dialling 123. Particularly busy times are on Remembrance Day, New Year's Eve and when the clocks change.

Perhaps even more surprising is that arguably the most iconic clock in the land, Big Ben housed in London, is kept in check by the speaking clock.

Launched in London in July 1936 before going BT said that the institution was accurate to within 30 microseconds.

While Steadman will be the fifth permanent voice, several celebrities' voices have been used on a temporary basis over the years.

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