Dick Van Dyke apologises for accent in Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke has apologised for his ‘atrocious’ cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Disney’s 1964 classic Mary Poppins. 

The American actor, 91, made the comments after he was chosen by Bafta to receive The Britannia Award For Excellence In Television this October.

He joked: ‘I appreciate this opportunity to apologise to the members of Bafta for inflicting on them the most atrocious cockney accent in the history of cinema.’ 

Dick Van Dyke today apologised for his 'atrocious' cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Disney's 1964 classic Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke today apologised for his ‘atrocious’ cockney accent as Bert the chimney sweep in Disney’s 1964 classic Mary Poppins

The star has long been derided for his attempt at an east end accent, but this is the first time he has publicly apologised for his efforts. 

In 2014 he said: ‘People in the UK love to rib me about my accent, I will never live it down. 

‘They ask what part of England I was meant to be from and I say it was a little shire in the north where most of the people were from Ohio.’

In the film, Van Dyke’s attempted Cockney drawl saw him utter phrases such as ‘Now this im-posin’ edifice what first meets the eye is the ‘ome of Admiral Boom’.

Other remarks, which saw him liberally dropping his vowels, included ‘The constable – responstable! Now ‘ow does that sound?’  

Dick Van Dyke who played Bert in Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke who played Bert in Mary Poppins

Dick Van Dyke who played Bert in Mary Poppins

But Van Dyke claimed he had no idea during the making of the film that there was anything wrong with his accent. 

He said: ‘I was working with an entire English cast and nobody said a word, not Julie [Andrews], not anybody said I needed to work on it, so I thought I was alright.’ 

His award recognises those whose special talents and appeal have elevated television and Van Dyke’s more than seven-decade career has been deemed worthy of the honour.

CEO of Bafta Los Angeles Chantal Rickards said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to honour the iconic Dick Van Dyke at this year’s British Academy Britannia Awards.

‘We truly are in a golden age of television and we couldn’t think of a better way to recognise this than by celebrating someone who was at the forefront of making it the global medium that it has become.

‘We look forward to his acceptance speech in whatever accent he chooses on the night. We have no doubt it will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!’

Van Dyke’s performances have earned him a trophy cabinet of five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Television Hall Of Fame.

Van Dyke's performances have earned him a trophy cabinet of five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Television Hall Of Fame

Van Dyke's performances have earned him a trophy cabinet of five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Television Hall Of Fame

Van Dyke’s performances have earned him a trophy cabinet of five Emmys, a Tony, a Grammy, the SAG Lifetime Achievement Award, and induction into the Television Hall Of Fame

His career took off with a Broadway role in musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1961, which he won his Tony Award for, and which was later adapted into a film he also starred in

His career took off with a Broadway role in musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1961, which he won his Tony Award for, and which was later adapted into a film he also starred in

His career took off with a Broadway role in musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1961, which he won his Tony Award for, and which was later adapted into a film he also starred in

His career took off with a Broadway role in musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1961, which he won his Tony Award for, and which was later adapted into a film he also starred in.

The sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, which also launched in 1961, solidified his star status and his most memorable film roles included Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews (1964), 1968’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Dick Tracy (1990) and the Night At The Museum films opposite Ben Stiller.

His hit TV series Diagnosis: Murder ran from 1993 to 2001 and spawned two TV films in 2002. 

Van Dyke is set to appear in the Mary Poppins sequel, which stars Emily Blunt as the famous nanny and Van Dyke playing Mr Dawes Jr. In the original film he donned a grey wig and beard to play banker Mr Dawes Sr. 

The film is due for release in 2018. 

This year’s AMD British Academy Britannia Awards will take place on October 27 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, Bafta’s biggest event outside of the UK. 

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