Posted by
Lasse Holmberg Josephsen
• 01.04.13 09:00 am

I really dislike Northern Irish film critic Mark Cousins.

I’ve never read any of his books.

I’ve never met him.

I don’t know anything about him except that he’s a film critic and that he’s from Northern Ireland.

I know next to nothing about Mark Cousins, but I hate him with a passion that borders on obscene.

He might be the coolest cat to hang out with. He might own every album by Roxy Music ever made. He probably has a really cool apartment with a really nice movie collection. I bet if I got to know him, he’d be the most loyal, helpful, and fun friend ever. We’d maybe hang out in his cool apartment listening to Roxy Music, and he’d tell me stories and fun film facts that would blow my mind, and then we’d be the best of friends, and we’d hang out constantly, and we’d laugh at the same things, and we’d be the best man at each other’s weddings, and he’d never let me down, and he’d help me out of trouble if I fucked up, and I’d help him out, too, and at the end of out lives we would live in the same nursing home and look back at a long and beautiful friendship.

God, how good friends me and Mark Cousins could’ve been!

But all of that will never happen, because I refuse to get to know Mark Cousins. In fact, it’s impossible for me to find out if Mark Cousins really is a cool guy because I couldn’t be in the same room with him for more than 10 seconds.

So why do I hate this man so much? What has Mark Cousins ever done to me? Has he slept with my girlfriend? Poisoned my dog? Taken a shit on my toilet without flushing?

None of those things.

Mark Cousins’s only sin is his way of talking.

My first meeting with his godawful voice was when a friend on Facebook wrote that he just heard the world’s most annoying narrator ever on a documentary series called A Story About Film that was on TV right then.

I turned on the TV, went to the correct channel, and I listened. I heard the narrator’s voice immediately.

“That’s strange,” I thought. “That’s not really an annoying voice. Sounds pretty normal to me.”

10 seconds in, I realized how terribly wrong I was. Cousins ends every sentence by lowering his voice while simultaneously employing the high rising terminal, creating the infuriating effect of being in constant wonderment of his own sentences. It also makes Mark Cousins a bona fide fist magnet if there ever was one.

30 seconds in, I realized it was impossible to watch any further and that I had to turn off the TV before I started ripping off my own pubic hair out of sheer fury.

It might be the fact that I’m Norwegian, but Mark Cousins way of talking is so annoying, it physically hurts.

I’ve always thought that England should give up Northern Ireland. I think it’s the only right thing to do. But if everyone there speaks like Mark Cousins, then the English should definitely remain there and take a tighter grip around that fucking area. The Limeys should try to force them into speaking properly.

If you think I’m exaggerating, well, listen for yourself, muchacho. Here’s Mark Cousins talking about the wonderful Japanese director Yasujiro Uzo:

That clip is eleven-and-a-half minutes long. How long did you manage to watch?

It’s not just when he’s narrating documentaries. Here’s Mark Cousins being interviewed:

Here’s Mark Cousins introducing Nicholas Roeg’s terrifying masterpiece Don’t Look Now:

For fuck’s sake! How can a person talk like that without receiving a fist in his face every minute of his life?

How many TV screens have been smashed to pieces because of Mark Cousins and his infuriating voice?

Oh, and he has an incredibly annoying face.





UPDATE: Apparently we aren’t the only ones to find this guy’s voice infuriating.


  1. jimchuck says:

    It wasn’t until the puppet video that I could really see what you were saying.

    See also: Lars Ulrich

  2. Typo Tony says:

    Ozu not Uzo.

  3. synonymous says:

    film criticism is on par with sportscasting as the most useless contribution to society.

  4. Candylad says:

    Have you seen his feature “The First Movie”? I still get violent PTSD style outbursts from the voice over he did for it.

  5. chris bonk says:

    I still think I’d rather listen to Mark Cousins read the entire Old Testament and Joyce’s “Ulysses” back-to-back than listen to Slavoj Zisek so much as read his zip code out loud.

  6. Lasse says:

    On that we can agree, Chris. Slavoj Žižek is a very disgusting man.

  7. Zlur says:

    The Story of Film was an amazing documentry to be fair tho, maybe watch it with subtitles tho.

  8. Steve says:

    So you get so angry listening to Mark Cousins’ voice you actually pull out your pubic hair? For something that you hate at least Mark Cousins’ voice gave you a large and utterly pointless blog entry.

    Also good job potentially offending everyone in Northern Ireland by offering the stupidest political solution to a non-existing problem. ‘England should give up Northern Ireland’
    You clearly haven’t even read the headlines about what happens in Northern Ireland and its relationship to the rest of the UK. So for any Northern Irish like me reading this piece of shit you’ve made me regard this blog with even MORE disdain.

    @synonymous says:
    film criticism is on par with sportscasting as the most useless contribution to society.

    Wrong, inane blog entries like these are. Just because you admit at the start of the blog you haven’t read or watched and of Cousins’ work doesn’t make continuing with a complete stream of shit any more legit.

    Don’t bother responding, I’m out.

  9. Marisa Wright says:

    I’ll take your comments with a grain of salt – I’m sure you’re exaggerating for effect. As a Scot myself, I don’t like people making fun of regional accents – but in Mark’s case, I don’t think it’s the accent that’s the problem.

    It’s his intonation, his rising inflexion? Living in Australia, I’m very accustomed to a rising terminal but Mark takes it to a ridiculous degree. Besides, he’s a film professional – he should have enough awareness to know that the narration of a documentary is important and should be undertaken by someone with a voice which can carry the material. He must have been either extraordinarily vain or very short of funds, to resort to using his own voice.

    For me, an otherwise excellent series is ruined by that voice, which I cannot listen to for any length of time. Sadly our local TV station is not showing it with subtitles – maybe I’ll have to buy it so I can get subtitles to watch it with.

  10. Ice says:

    I think you’re all nuts, I find his narration very charming.

  11. This is an outstanding and beautiful love letter to film. His voice is as distinctive as his 900 joyful minutes of odyssey through the history of film. It is easy to sit on the armchair and nitpick at other people’s work but before we hear your view perhaps it would be more important to watch your 900 minutes of film first. Until that moment arrives we shall view you as no more than a profoundly obsessed and jealous individual with little else to do but criticise true artists for doing what you are clearly incapable of doing yourself,

  12. AnotherFilmBuff says:

    I love the Northern Irish accent, specially from Belfast and I love film. I’ve seen all the episodes of the history of film and it was very well made, but Mark Cousins intonation was incredibly annoying. Fortunately I could watch the series with sub-titles.

  13. Lisbeth says:

    Wow… Lasse, are you for real?? And thank you to Steve, Marisa, Ice and Irishmediaman for giving Lasse a piece of your mind. I totally agree with you.

  14. Marcus says:

    The first picture I got when I heard this guy was this: when he sits in the studio or whatever where they recorded his voice-overs, he holds his script in one hand and a ciggarte in the other. He wrote the script when he was so shot up on heroine that he doesn’t remember a single line, but since he’s such a great film person he refuses to do re-read the script to make sure evrything’s right. So there by his voice, this is the first time he reads his own heroine script, and since he doesn’t remember a thing, he’s constantly bewildred of what he has written.

    And the subtitle didn’t work, it just a big stamp with the word “pretentious” all the time.

  15. Steffen says:

    Lasse, Thank you! Yes!! Infuriating!
    Nice to know I’m not alone in this weird response.

    I first encountered his narration about 10 minutes ago. At first, I wasn’t paying attention to my tv still being switched on in the livingroom, while I was absorbed in my kitchen. But a new programme had begun. I could barely hear it, and yet my response was along the lines of:
    “WTF?! Who is the selfabsorbed ASSHOLE droning away on my tv?”
    After identifying him, I obviously had to look him up.
    I have never encountered a speechpattern so infuriating. Period.

  16. Gerald says:

    This man should be not allowed to speak.

  17. Tom says:

    His voice didn’t bug me until episode 2 of The Story of Film. And I find his factual mistakes in that series (e.g. “Nanook” died soon after Robert Flaherty filmed him) to be even more irksome. Then there is the frequent arrogance…

  18. Oliver says:

    I also really hate Mark Cousins’ grinning mugshot, which we’re now “treated” to every month in ‘Sight and Sound’ along with yet more of his ramblings.

    And ‘The Story of Film’ is riddled with errors and deliberate omissions — stick to inexpensive secondhand copies of ‘The Chronicle of Cinema’ (David Robinson) or ‘Cinema: The First 100 Years’ (David Shipman) if you want a thorough introduction.

  19. Richo says:

    I went to university with Mark Cousins. He didnt speak like that then. But he was a good guy, maybe a bit of a nerd, who was keen on his movies – and to be honest nothing like as pretentious as some of the clowns who were at Stirling in the 80s

  20. annelise larsen says:

    I have been following the series of film history. I enjoy it so much because of the narraters voice.
    So now I looked in google and found all these letters from enemies of his voice. I just want to
    Say that I could listen to that wonderful accent and slow diction for hours, and my greatest wish
    would be a novel read by him on cd

  21. jojo sissybutt says:

    I was in the kitchen cooking when my husband went to Netflix and found The Story of Film. I was immediately irritated and pissed off at the affront to my ears and brain. I couldn’t figure out if the narrator was for real or playing up a fake voice that he thought would have more interesting character than his own. I knew I couldn’t be the only person with such a strong negative reaction.

  22. mr.antonio says:

    still fucked up. this man shouldnt be allowed any speak –

  23. Rusty P Deeyecks says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I thought that there must be something wrong with me because of the violent urges the popped into my head as I listened to this man’s infuriating narration. What a shame because the content of this documentary is excellent. But I cannot bear to spend the next 15 hours listening to this torment

  24. Viking says:

    I’ll promise to buy that series in Blu-ray twice as soon as the narration gets replaced with some professional narrator. Cousins’ ridiculous intonation makes it impossible to watch it as it is now.

  25. SeentheLight says:

    This is the FIRST time I’ve ever left a comment. I actually googled ‘Who is the annoying narrator in The Story of Film.’ Tried so hard to sit through it but thought I was going to go mad if I have to hear him speak one more word. I do voiceovers so was flummoxed WHY anyone would choose the guy. Now I know he owns the whole thing lock, stock and barrel. It’s such a pity because the film alone was promising.

  26. Simon says:

    I didn’t notice anything unusual, probably because I’m a Brit and I’m used to Northern Irish accents. Didn’t sound like questions to me at all. See

  27. Juuso says:

    Thank you for this rant! I understand what you mean 100%. I have never encountered anything in my life even remotely as utterly infuriating as this human being’s ridiculously rising intonation! In. Every. Fucking. Sentence. Every single one! Oh my god… I have to go punch a pillow. Actually I might have to go bite one while yelling curse words. And I’m usually such a calm guy!

  28. Martin Gray says:

    Ohhh thanwnk gordNESS. I thowwwt it is wassss just MOY.

    Oh blimey, I’m being offensive but it’s not the accent, it’s the way he chooses to deliver his script. Mark Cousins is a seriously knowledgeable, insightful man, and I love film history, but I just cannot listen to that delivery for more than two minutes.

  29. Ian Paisley says:

    It surely is a pitiful accent. Something lacking in the brain and a total lack of awareness of how bad he sounds.

  30. Manufracture says:

    Thanks so much for writing this. I started watching his History of Film documentary in Hulu and could not stand his voice. I has a similar response to what you describe. It is not the accent at all. It is the bizarre inflection he uses that is the problem. Now that I have read your reaction I can pomptly go on with my life knowing that it wasn’t just me.

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