Friday, 26 March 2010

Okay, let's go again...

This week our guest blogger is Mark Ryan, journalist and author of "The Lowdown: A Short History of the World Cup."

I hope everyone enjoys my THE LOWDOWN: A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD CUP because the process of recording it was certainly an unforgettable experience!

You might have thought that the real hard work was to research and write the thing. After all, it amounted to a celebration of almost a century of football's most memorable highlights. But the research and writing turned out to be the easy part. Recording the history was the biggest challenge.

I met Lorelei King and Ali Muirden from Creative Content at a recording studio in the west end of London. All very rock'n roll and I was feeling pretty confident too, because I've got some radio experience.

Thought I'd better cover myself by pointing out that I might not be able to read 7,000 words without making one or two mistakes, though. Only human, right? They said no problem, we could just go over any tiny errors again as we went along.
With that little safety net in the bag, I thought we would be in and out of there in half an hour. One take wasn't beyond the realms of possibility. This would be a breeze.
Two problems with that little theory:

1. The standards Creative expect of their "recording artists" are rather higher than I anticipated.

2. The sound booth in the recording studio is hyper-sensitive.

Not only did I start to miss out one or two words while reading under pressure, but Ali gently pulled me up for:

a. breathing too much
b. not breathing enough
c. tummy rumbling
d. lips smacking
e. lips too dry
f. lips too wet
g. unnecessary movement
h. miscellaneous "strange sounds"
i. daring to breathe at all
j. just being there, really.

OK, those last two might be exaggerating just a little, but you get the point. They want their recordings to be top notch and they were not going to settle for anything less. So as the narrator, you can do two things at this point. You can burp or even break wind deliberately and defiantly, then walk out in a huff. Or you can go with it and work as hard as you have ever worked in your life to achieve the level they want.

Two hours later, feeling as though I had played against the Brazil team of 1970 on my own, then done another ninety minutes against the Dutch of 1974, I stumbled out of the sound booth with a sense of forboding. Was there going to be anger at how long it took to get everything right? No, they said, all perfectly normal. Apparently, one well-known narrator from the past had even had to take his shirt off in the sound booth because it was rustling too much. That's what Ali and Lorelei told him anyway.

Would I do it all again? Sure. I loved working with highly professional people. Hope the recording that you can now hear is an enjoyable product of that demanding process. Just like those wonderful World Cup highlights, the afternoon in the recording studio will not be forgotten in a hurry by the people who were there! In the end we "got the result," as they say in football. - Mark Ryan

*Thanks, Mark, for pointing out that it's not necessarily a walk in the park! - LK


  1. This for the LOWDOWN team as the CONTACT US page doesn't work.

    Can you please confirm that The Lowdown: Improve Your Speech 2 is different to the first CD? The sample on your website for the second CD seems to be taken from the first one which I already purchased.

  2. Hello! I'm sorry you're having trouble with our website - thank you for bringing it to our attention!

    Yes, I can confirm that The Lowdown: Improve Your Speech British English 2 is different from the first one. What is on the website to promote level 2 is a free, downloadable vocal warm-up from the first title.

    You can always contact us either at or

    Thank you!

    the team at Creative Content