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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 February, 2003, 18:29 GMT
Directory company picks Welsh voice
Shalim Ali
Shalim Ali's accent was picked as the best
A Welsh accent described as "perfect" has been used as the voice for one of the new telephone directory services.

Shalim Ali's voice was chosen from a shortlist of 58 to record the greeting message of the 118 118 service, because his Cardiff accent portrayed friendliness.

The 24-year-old, who lives in the Llandaff area of the city, was selected after a voice expert assessed the way he spoke.

Her findings showed that he demonstrated a natural, clear and confident delivery.

Mr Ali works as a customer service representative at The Number, which runs the 118 118 directory enquiry service.

It is one of several telephone listings companies taking over from the current 192 service.

"It was a real surprise to be chosen because they were actually looking for a woman's voice, because the female voice is associated with trust," said Mr Ali.

The Welsh accent is calm, reassuring and professional
Rob Smith, The Number

"My parents are really proud of me, and my friends think it is really funny that I was chosen.

"My girlfriend Marian thinks it is hysterical and I think she is trying to get me to record her answer machine message as well," he said.

Mr Ali spent the day recording the greeting messages for the company in a studio in London.

"Hearing myself is very strange and has taken a bit of getting used to," said Mr Ali.

"I have already been recognised as the voice by one customer who asked me if it was a one-man operation," he added.

Right voice

The company, which has set up its headquarters in the Pontprennau part of the city said that Mr Ali's accent was "perfect".

"It was crucial we avoided the usual patronising and irritating canned voices heard all too often on the end of phones," said Rob Smith from The Number.

"The Welsh accent is calm, reassuring and professional," he added.

The company used expert Yvonne Gilan to choose the right voice.

"Voices say so much about businesses," she said.

"It was crucial for the voice to be friendly, energetic, flexible, alert, clear, natural and unforced and easy to listen to," she added.

The Number, which employs 150 people in its Cardiff site, is currently in the process of recruiting a further 200 people.

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