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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 21:30 GMT
Woman becomes new voice of clock
Sara Mendes da Costa
The part-time voiceover artist beat almost 18,500 other hopefuls
A woman from Sussex has won the BBC Children in Need competition to become the new voice for the speaking clock.

Sara Mendes da Costa, 40, from Brighton, was picked from almost 18,500 entrants and will be the fourth long-term voice of the BT service.

She said: "I only entered after my dad heard the competition on the radio and suggested I give it a go."

Sir Christopher Bland, chairman of BT, said he thanked all the entrants which helped raise 200,000 for the charity.

Ms Mendes da Costa was selected by a judging panel who were not allowed to see any photographs, biographies or information about the 15 finalists.

The judges included the current voice of the speaking clock, Brian Cobby from Hove, BBC presenters Natasha Kaplinsky and Alan Dedicoat (the voice of the National Lottery draw), the general manager of Accurist, and a voice coach.

'Very timely'

They made their unanimous decision purely by listening to the sound clips of the finalists.

Sir Christopher Bland said Ms Mendes da Costa's voice "had warmth and clarity and would be an excellent choice to succeed Brian Cobby".

Sara Mendes da Costa
The moment when Ms Mendes da Costa was told she had won

Ms Mendes da Costa is a budding author and works as a part-time voiceover artist and describes the speaking clock as "a national treasure".

She said: "I just can't believe it... I've had a brilliant couple of days finding out I was in the final 15.

"We were taken to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and I got to listen to all three of the previous speaking clocks and I actually felt quite emotional.

"The last three years have been a struggle to support myself while I've been writing. Maybe this is my big break. You could say that this is very timely."

The BT speaking clock has been keeping time for 70 years and still receives more than 70 million calls each year.

Sara Mendes de Costa speaks about her new job


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