Shoppers left spooked after 'Boris Johnson sounding' voice is randomly played in town centre

A voice sounding like Boris Johnson was played from CCTV speakers in Middlesbrough town centre. (swns)
A voice sounding like Boris Johnson was played from CCTV speakers in Middlesbrough town centre. (swns)

Shoppers were left bemused when CCTV speakers started making strange broadcasts.

Emma Martinez was walking through Middlesbrough town centre at around 2:30pm on Friday when she heard a familiar sounding voice.

One broadcast started "Good morning, good morning, good morning, and what a lovely day it is. Rise and shine. Rise and shine," before playing jolly jingle music.

Another, sounding like the voice of Boris Johnson, said: "We intend to unite and level up across the whole of our United Kingdom."

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Outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street, London, before leaving for Balmoral for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II to formally resign as Prime Minister. Picture date: Tuesday September 6, 2022.
The voice from the speakers sounded like ex-prime minister Boris Johnson. (PA)

Martinez said: "I think someone had hacked into the sound system. I think they were talking about BP but not sure as I did not catch what they said.

"People were looking, but not everyone could make out where it was coming from."

But it turned out they were not imagining things and it was actually a temporary installation as part of Middlesbrough Art Weekender.

Andrew Glover, of Middlesbrough Council, confirmed the speakers would be used for one hour a day between now and Sunday for the project.

According to the weekender's programme brochure, the broadcast appeared to be the 'LOL' performance, listed as "a sonic intervention through Middlesbrough's CCTV surveillance network."

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Described as a “three-part collage”, it was created by Sound Art Brighton artist Olivia Louvel.

It also features field recordings by Swiss artist Stefano Christen and was produced with Kersten Glandien.

The description on the weekender's website reads: “LOL is a site-specific sonic intervention delivered through the public address system of Middlesbrough’s CCTV surveillance network.

“On dedicated sites in the centre of town passers-by will hear political slogans, news headlines - read by the AI voice ‘Kate’ - and the sounds of protest, reflecting the current state of political affairs in Britain.”

French-born British artist Louvel uses voice, computer music and digital narrative to create her pieces and says her art is “built upon a long-standing exploration of the voice, sung, or spoken, and its manipulation through digital technology as a compositional method.”