back to article Stephen Fry's truly terrible mistake

It's little wonder that Stephen Fry holds such a place in the nation's affections. He's earned it through a string of unforgettable performances. There's his voiceover for Direct Line's pet insurance, his voiceover for the 2008 Argos catalogue, not to mention voiceovers for Anchor Butter, Tesco, Dairylea, Kenco, Coca Cola, …


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  1. Piloti

    Graham Linehan

    ... is he British ?


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Much funnier...

      ...than Fry!

    2. Neil 51


      ..the British claiming an Irishman as one of theirs? But that's never happened before (see also: Dylan Moran, Spike Milligan, Peter O'Toole & Oscar Wilde)

      1. Elmer Phud Silver badge


        And why was Spike an Irishman?

        'cos the Brits said he was born abroad and wouldn't give him a passport.

        He offered himself up as being available for adoption by any country and the Irish said they'd give him a home.

  2. Pete B


    If the author of this article is to be believed I must be the only person in the UK completely happy with DAB - I've got multiple sets throughout the house and nary a problem, unlike the FM sets they replaced which all suffered from interference. I don't really want to turn a PC on to listen to the radio - a suggestion the author seems to be making - I'm pretty sure however bad in power use my DAB set is it won't be as bad as running a PC for the purpose!

  3. Monty Cantsin
    Thumb Down

    Shock horror!

    Actor accepts job offer! But since Fry twittered the opening of his iPad box, he should be more discerning in the tech standards he helps implement, not reading scripts for financial reward like, um... an actor.

    Oh, and if "deficiencies of DAB are well known enough not to need reiterating", then what were the subsequent 3 paragraphs for?

  4. Dave Murray


    The mistake is assuming Fry is tech-savvy. He isn't, he's just a magpie that likes shiny electronics.

  5. irish donkey
    Thumb Up

    someone supposedly tech-savvy

    The man has a hard on ever time Apple brings out a new product. I wouldn't call that tech-savvy that just being a sad fanBoi'

    But we still love ya even if you are somewhat misguided and blinded by the golden apple.

    QI... is funny but Alan Davis annoys me

  6. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    B-->Z lists

    Rula Lenska was famously Lintilla in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and therefore ranks in the major deity league of goddesses.

    1. Martin

      Internet radio is the way forward.

      Internet radio doesn't need a PC. It just needs (gosh!) an internet connection.

    2. Jolyon

      I'm DABtacus

      I'm also very happy with DAB.

      Have a set in every room.

      One of them also receives internet radio stations - nice to have the options.

    3. spodula

      I strongly suspect you are.

      I got a DAB set, Its currently sitting in the back of the cupboard, on the off chance that i can at some time in distant future get a decent signal. Of course it may be because i dont live near a major urban center.Saying that, i have freinds in Leeds saying that have major issues as well, so maybe not.

      None of my FM radio's have any problem including the wind up one i got for camping years ago.

      Your definately right about Internet radio. Firing up a PC just to listen to the radio is a silly idea.

    4. dirk_diggler

      And me

      I've been perfectly happy with DAB. The sound quality is better than FM and I can receive broadcasts fine. I don't understand the DAB bashing on here, the specific implementation of the technology may have been wrong but going digital at some stage had to happen for radio.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        the sound quality is better?

        Either you have hearing damage or buy shitty radios.

        When my tuner accidentally got switched to DAB (still on r4, it was being smart), I was concerned that the thing was on the way out, as it sounded screwed. Muffled, harsh, warbly- like a crimionally low bitrate layer 2 audio stream which.. no wait, that's exactly what it was.

        Having taken part in properly controlled critical listening tests, I'm shocked how easy it is to get people to convince themselves that something sounds "good" by applying a v-shaped EQ curve or pressing "loudness", even if they can no longer discern what is being said.

      2. Displacement Activity


        Hey, they're happy with DAB. What on earth is the point of down-voting someone just because they're happy with what they've got? Or do you think they're too stupid to be allowed to express an opinion?

        @TheAuthor: have you actually *tried* using WinAmp in Mozambique?

    5. Anonymous Coward


      I have one in the office at work, despite other complaints about DAB signal, I've found DAB is all that we can receive in the office. FM/AM? Forget about it.

      I'm not so sure about the enforced push to DAB, and would prefer Internet Radio - but you know what? They aint ever gonna allow us to use that at work!

      Also, what happens about my car radio in an Internet Radio only world? I'm f*cked if I'm paying a monthly subscription to have 3G/LTE or whatever in my car just so I can listen to the radio when I'm driving. Think DAB/FM coverage is bad? Just wait til you're reliant on 3G!

      DAB does the job, but it's probably not the way forward. Internet Radio on the other hand is DEFINITELY not the way forward for me.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Rula Lenska

      Not to mention Rock Follies, where we spotty teenagers got to see more of her, in a manner of speaking...

    7. Lamont Cranston

      Not the only one, but one of a (very) few.

      I enthusiastically switched over to DAB shortly after it was launched (there are 3 set in my house), and fell out of love with it pretty quickly:

      - Portability: no, eats batteries, loses reception if you move about

      - Signal quality: what's that? Oh, "bubbling mud," again

      - Choice of stations: mostly rubbish (just like FM), find a good one and tire of it quick as the playlist repeats very frequently; that or the station disappears. Used to listed to BBC 6 and 7 quite a lot but I've pretty much heard all I want from 7 (no, I don't want another repeat of The Clitheroe Kid, thank you very much) and 6 very quickly vanished up its presenter's backsides. Thus, I'm left with NME (or Kerrang) for pop/indie, Planet Rock (for proper music, and a big hit with the kids, to boot!) and Radio 4. All in all, no big improvement from FM.

      Any other benefits? Scrolling text and a self-setting clock? Whoopee.

      Even got a Pure Highway for the car, but endless retuning was a pain (and none to good for road safety), such that I never bothered to fix it when the mounting arm broke.

      Some sort of digital switchover is probably inevitable, but I think I'd only be happy if:

      1) a decent technology is used (not one that gets upset by movement or being indoors)

      2) any current, legal,FM/AM/MW broadcaster that wants space on a multiplex can have it

      3) I get a respectable discount when replacing my then-useless DABs.

    8. Jaques Croissant

      "the tech standards he helps implement"?

      He doesn't. Tweeting about something isn't how one sets a standard. If it were, a lot of VERY FUCKUING BORING meetings in Geneva could be avoided.

      It takes actual engineers to exchange actual information until they want to murder themselves and each other, after some painful prototyping work to set standards. Going to a few press launches and blathering like a big fat 2.0tard isn't quite the same thing.

      1. Gulfie
        Thumb Up

        I'd like to correct your post.

        He's not so fat now.

    9. dpg21
      Thumb Up

      DAB fine radio

      I like my DAB radio too. The FM reception in my area means that there's a fair amount of hiss and crackle on my analogue radio, where as the DAB one is crystal clear. The hiss is not too bad when your listening to music, but it used to drive me mad when I was listening to radio 4.

    10. Wild Bill
      Thumb Down

      You don't need your PC on

      Just a wireless router. Internet radio sets are fantastic. The variety of stations available through them is mindblowing.

    11. John 62

      Internet radio: PC

      I think he meant that you only needed a PC to start broadcasting internet radio, whereas broadcasting over the air needs expensive transmitters (and a PC to get the signal to the transmitters).

  7. HighlightAll

    Couldn't agree more

    I was shocked when I heard his voice pushing the nasty tech. If we could Web2.0 the ad he would go from 'Highest Ranked' to 'down ranked to oblivion.'

    Unhappy face. Disappointed.

  8. SuperTim


    I understand the need to compress some of the radio spectrum, but this radio scrappage scheme is bollocks. Who has a "radio" now anyway? I can't scrap the stereo in my car just because it is FM, it does other things as well that scapping it would mean forking out a lot of money for just the radio upgrade. I haven't got a standalone radio, and i am not tempted to get one just because it's DAB. I dont listen to radio (via sky and such) in the house much as there is lots of other entertainment, but if i did, it would be as part of a system not just a crappy little box with a tiny speaker. They dont make any offer of "upgrade" just "get rid of anything that has FM"

  9. Forget It

    dubious gag

    You got it entirely the wrong way round:

    DAB is BAD

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge


      The price increase just from FM to DAB is huge, let alone when you consider that my radio has better sound quality than most, and plays MP3's OGG etc. Ridiculous prices

      That said, you can get a DAB FM Transmitter for your car. You use the DAB radio to choose a station, which then transmits over FM to your Car radio.

      The question is, do you want to run an extra bit of kit (which is also far easier to nick as it's jsut suckered onto the windscreen a la satnav)? I'm buggered if I'm carrying that and my satnav whenever I get out of the car, so given the choice I'll just have to give radio a miss (until prices come down).

      Even fitting them in new cars won't do for me, even if I had the money to buy a new car, I'd probably want to move my Half Decent(TM) sound system across to the new car and replace the shitty system that is often in as standard.

      1. SuperTim

        DAB2FM device...

        But then i wont be able to "trade in" my FM radio if i still need it for this clever contraption to work. It also needs real estate in my car (which i dont have) and doesn't integrate with steering wheel controls. All in all it's a massive fudge.

      2. Hamstall

        In-car DAB

        I've just fitted a Pure "Highway" DAB receiver to my car. You can actually plumb it in to an audio input if your car has one, and the installation isn't bad.


        The coverage of the signal is absolutely lamentable.

  10. Tom 35 Silver badge

    thanks to open internet standards, has global reach.

    Just like iPlayer and Hulu then?

  11. Stewart Cunningham
    Dead Vulture

    DAB works fine for me

    How else am I supposed to listen to anything other than Radio1/2 or the local crap? Internet radio is useless as it isnt as portable (my laptop has crap speakers) and I can't use it at work due to bandwidth.

    How would you suggest I get 6music, kerrang, etc?

    Away to buy a DAB radio for the car. Yes I have TBs of music on mp3 but sometimes it's nice to hear something I dont already own.

    Whether I can believe the gumf on the box that suggests that DAB+ is only a firmware upgrade away is another story. For now it does the trick.

  12. Smallbrainfield
    Thumb Down

    I thought this was going to be a veiled

    Apple whine, but no, it's a DAB whine. I'm assuming Fry is getting paid for his voice-over? It's hardly going to kill his career, those Direct Lines ads are doing a far better job at that.

    DAB might be shite, but I can get a decent signal and listen to 6music in the office.

    And for your information, the average mule is far more practical than a Mini Cooper, as anyone with legs will tell you.

  13. Pugs

    Power Usage

    I was thinking this week on how terrible my current DAB (Pure model) radio was a power usage. The old radio we had in the bathroom would go for months without a battery change but the new one goes through at least a set every few weeks.

    Pure do sell a rechargeable "green" battery pack, but the fact that it cost about 70% of the value of the radio put me off a bit.

    (Both radios took the same type and number of batteries!)

  14. Nosher

    Internet Radio my arse

    Yeah, because internet radio would work *really* well in my car on the drive to work - 53 miles each way with perfect DAB coverage across Suffolk and into Cambridge with the enjoyable company of 6Music. Don't get me wrong - I love inernet radio. At home. With a computer (or my Squeezebox). With broadband. Please just stop slagging DAB - you clearly don't actually use it. Only a few of the issues you constantly raise are legit - yes DAB+ would be better, etc, etc. but it's hardly the end of the world if it doesn't work in Europe (you've clearly not listened to French radio) but the audio quality issue is completely bogus - it sounds perfectly good in the car and on my Pure Evoke Flow in the kitchen, and is shed-loads better than the AM tech which seemed to suffice for Radio 1 until 1988 - nobody moaned constantly about that (much). Enough already!

  15. Piro

    Stephen Fry, you disappoint

    First, your lust for the iPad, second, plugging DAB.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Register's mistake

    Is The Register's mistake trying to lay into the lovely Stephen Fry? Leave him alone!

    1. Piro

      Internet Radio is not anywhere near as bad as you imagine

      Even over GPRS, I can get near-continuous streaming on my htc magic on a 32kbps AAC+ stream (which sounds way better than.. that sounds). Tested on a 40+ odd mile trip.

      With a roof mounted aerial and slightly better 3G coverage, you could stream something far higher quality than DAB+.

    2. The Indomitable Gall

      6music, eh?

      You do realise that 6music is on the chopping block, don't you? Hardly worth going DAB for that....

    3. David Beck
      Thumb Down

      Doesn't work in France?

      Or ANY other European country. French radio may be crap to you but there are good classical stations and more importantly there are good travel bulletins regarding the autoroutes, fortunately these remain on FM too.

      I would also like to point out not everyone lives around Cambridge and where I live in Oxfordshire, while FM is fine, DAB is almost non-existent.

      When DAB signals are available at the same density and quality as FM and a DAB receiver can operate for 20 hours on a single AAA cell I will become interested.

  17. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Slightly off topic...

    The Nokia Home Music thing... anyone know if it will stream media content off of my Synology DS109j as this could be jst what I am looking for.


    1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Slightly off topic...

      If the Synology box acts as a UPnP server, then it should. If not, you'll have to plug it in directly. But I'm still testing...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Internet Radio

    Not sure that is the solution - my internet doesn't work so well in the car, or on the beach, or the race track.

    If 3G was uncapped and universally available then great, but it's not.

    DAB works great for me in my house but I do have a big DAB tower that was recently erected on the hill just over the road. However I have also used it at other locations where you go from 99% signal to 30% (and the bubbling) just by moving the aerial a centimetre to one side. I guess that when coverage is extended and the power increased then it will be a lot better, although I can't ever see it being an easy transition from cheap FM sets.

  19. mmm mmm


    I live in London and can't get a decent signal on anything I'd consider worth listening to (rock and alternative channels mostly) although an experimental go at radio 1, 2, and 4 were shocking as well. To my mind (or ear at least), it sounds like the broadcasts are being dragged over sandpaper or emery cloth. It's awful.

  20. Slatters

    Thank you!

    I'll admit I'm already biased - I can't stand Stephen Fry for many reasons - but still I was stunned to hear him fronting this shameless nonsense. With the exception of a minority for whom DAB is "good enough", we all know why it sucks.

    It just verifies what I've long thought - Fry is merely a BBC (and maybe Apple) shill. At last I'm not the only one to notice!

    I guess it also goes some way to demonstrate that he isn't clued up about technology at all - he presumably just likes shiney new things with a price tag. And showing them off to the world. Part and parcel really of the personality type that insists on boosting popularity by twitter...contemptible man. Go away.

  21. Mr Brush

    Unlike most Appletards

    Mr Fry freely admits he is a w*nker.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Im am only suprised at your simshock

    S. Fry was a bankrupt (all senses),druggy thief that managed to play a part in the brilliant Black Adder of course he is after the money, DUH

    P.S. I dont see him as a nation treasure

  23. Matthew Malthouse
    Dead Vulture

    Dab on wheels... or not.

    DAB's oaky...

    Unless you want to go abroad - and 3K of the 4K miles I've driven in the last 8 months have been in continental Europe.

    So no DAB car replacement for me.

  24. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. Lutin

    Internet radio on the go

    DAB's dead baby, DAB's dead.

    You can use internet radio on the go (and in a car!) if you can get internet on your phone. This is what I use to listen to 6 music and french stations (which are magnifique) on my daily commute.

    Get yourself acquainted with and you don't even need 3g.

    (btw before anyone starts moaning about data charges, i'm on a cheapo O2 simplicity and never once been charged extra)

  26. RustyNailed
    Thumb Down

    Slightly Unfair

    From the authors own link, Stephen Frys "indiscriminate love of a voiceover cheque" amounts to one voiceover this year (not including the DAB one which is not listed). Of course, he indiscriminately did 5 last year (ignoring that 4 were for the same brand), 1 in 2008 and 2 in 2007. A shocking number amounting to 10 in the last 3.5 years, or 6 for different brands. How could he be so ruthlessly indiscriminate?

    Whatever the merits, or lack of, DAB, I'm not sure the attack is justified for the reasons suggested by the article, and based on data the author links to. Not really sure what the motivation for this article really was.....


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