Town crier championships are being held in silence due to Covid

Virgin Radio

20 Apr 2021, 16:58

We promise we're not making this up.

Covid has cancelled many gigs and festivals - and now it's claimed the British Town Crier Championships too.

For the first time in the history of the event, the competition will be held in complete silence. 

Hundreds of the best criers from across the country gather every year to shout ‘Oyez, Oyezs’.

Due to Covid, this year the entrants will be judged on 140-word written entries.

Yes, the town criers have been sadly silenced.

Initial plans were for video entries, but many of the criers found it challenging to submit good enough recordings. 

Organiser and Bishops Stortford crier Carole Williams said the new format was ‘a return to the bare bones of crying’.

‘It’s a real skill to write a cry that sticks to the theme, that enlightens people, and doesn’t bore the audience. And it all has to be done in 140 words,’ she said. Remember when Twitter only gave you 140 characters?

The Loyal Company of Town Criers says it has received hundreds of entries despite the criers not being able to vocalise.

Ms Williams said judges usually looked at three distinct parts of a cry: ‘Sustained volume and clarity, diction and inflection, and content.’

The written entries are to be around the theme of ‘nature and the environment’.

The current national champion is ten-times winner Alistair Chisholm from Dorchester. 

He describes crying as ‘an extreme sport’.

‘When you write a cry you write it for you,’ he told the BBC. ‘You put in your own expression onto the page for your voice alone.’

He said crying with a mask on didn't work as ‘they make it come out all muffly’.

Eliza Watson is the crier for Barnoldswick in Lancashire.

She thinks the written format could change things up.

‘Usually those criers who are not naturally as loud or as experienced tend to miss out on winning, but this year there’s a feeling it’s a real level field – it might be the year of an outsider,’ she said.