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Founder of Brentwood cockney website challenges Duchess of Cambridge to recreate My Fair Lady school play role

Cockney Joe Leslie knows his apples and pears, does the duchess? Cockney Joe Leslie knows his apples and pears, does the duchess?

Saturday, February 8, 2014
12:00 PM

A man attempting to keep cockney heritage alive has challenged the Duchess of Cambridge to recreate her performance as Eliza Doolittle in a school production.

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Joe Leslie, 57, has sent a letter to the duchess, now a proud mother to Prince George, asking her to consider reprising her role in My Fair Lady to raise money for a charity of her choice.

She played the lead part in the show as an 11-year-old in 1993, while she was studying at St Andrew’s School, of Pangbourne, Berkshire.

Joe, who set up the Brentwood website Cockney Pride, came up with the idea after being asked by a national newspaper to judge her accent in the performance.

He said: “I gave her 10 out of 10 for trying. Dick Van Dyke was bad [in Mary Poppins], but she was probably the worst I’ve heard.

“Her background dictates her speech and she can’t lose her “poshness,” but that doesn’t mean to say that she can’t do it. I would like to see her do it with a proper cockney accent.”

In his critique of the video, Joe commented that the duchess sounded like a “posh Australian,” but said her age and middle-class upbringing must have made it difficult for her to get into the “skin” of a cockney.

Now Joe is hoping for a response to his letter in the coming weeks. He estimates the chances of the duchess agreeing to his proposal are “50/50”.

However, he added: “I think personally she would be up for it. If it was just left to her and her husband, I’m pretty sure they would do it, because it is not serious.

“We would go through the lines slowly and then practise it until we were both happy that it sounded cockney. It would be fantastic fun.”

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