Meet Marc Silk: The voice behind a galaxy of cartoon characters
Chances are you hear him every day, yet you’d pass him in the street without a glance. Jo Ind meets Marc Silk
A day never passes when I do not hear the voice of Marc Silk. Every evening, when I get home from work, I listen. I sometimes hear him as I get the breakfast ready too.
Marc’s nasal/slug-like/dulcet/husky/sonorous/tones are an inescapable feature of my life but, unless I had met him, I might never have known just how much he is part of my daily routine.
“I’m the most famous person you’ve never heard of,” says Marc who is the voice of Bob the Builder in the USA, of Bumble and Slugsy in Fifi and the Flowertots and of Maxi, Flash, Heli, Drifter and Dinky in Roary the Racing Car. These are voices that hold my three-year-old son enthralled.
Marc, who is aged 36, can also be heard in Johnny Bravo on the Cartoon Network, Starwars and Pingu. And he was the announcer at Prince Charles’s 60th birthday party, broadcast on ITV last year starring John Cleese, Robin Williams and Rowan Atkinson.
His voice is heard right across the globe – literally – but most of his recordings are made from his studio in Solihull. He has worked with stars like comedian Peter Kaye and actress Jane Horrocks – and yet few would recognise him if you passed him in the street.
“There is so much you can do with sound,” says Marc. “I like creating something from scratch. I like the idea of saying to your audience, ‘Shut your eyes and let me tell you a story’.
“One day I’ll be doing something for Play Station 3 and the next day I’ll be the voice of Bob the Builder. I wouldn’t be able to do so much if I was a regular actor. Being anonymous means I get to do a great variety of things.
“I get to have a regular life and yet I get to work with the most amazing people. I get the best of both worlds.
“I was at an event in Birmingham the other day and a woman was really excited to meet me when she knew who I was. I enjoy that. It’s fantastic but then I like to be able to walk through the Bullring with nobody knowing me.”
He has created an ideal career for himself, yet he has done it with no training in acting or producing or IT.
“At school I was the quiet one,” says Marc who went to Park Hall in Castle Bromwich. “I was the one sitting at the front taking it all in. All the loud people sat at the back.
“I never thought of myself as a performer. I wanted to be the button guy. When I was younger I wanted to be a lift attendant because I wanted to press the buttons.”
But when he was at school he took a course in media and got to work on a radio show.
“It was just so exhilarating,” says Marc. “It was everything I loved all together – music, creativity, characters, the buttons ...”
He did work experience with BRMB – filing in the library to be precise – and knew then with a passion that radio was where he wanted to be. When he left school after his GCSEs he did a radio show for Mercia based in Coventry and after six months was invited to have a show with Radio 1.