Linda Poon is a staff writer at CityLab covering science and urban technology, including smart cities and climate change. She previously covered global health and development for NPR’s Goats and Soda blog.
Phil Sayer, best known for his announcements in the London subway and the U.K.’s railway, has died at age 62.
For years, Phil Sayer reminded Londoners to “mind the gap” between the train and the platform and to “stand clear of the doors.” His announcements helped millions of passengers navigate the various train routes in the U.K. He told them which trains offer drinks and light refreshments. And when there were weather delays, he apologized for the inconvenience.
But Londoners won’t get to hear Sayer’s voice anymore. His wife, Elinore Hamilton, announced Friday that Sayer has died. He was 62 and had esophageal cancer. “Phil Sayer – voice of reason, radio, and railways. A dearly loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle and friend,” Hamilton wrote on Facebook.
For those who regularly take public transit, Sayer’s calm, yet stern, voice is a familiar one. He and Hamilton have both recorded announcements for the London Underground and for the railway for years. They’ve described themselves as the U.K.’s most apologetic couple, since their voices were the ones to break the bad news about delays and canceled trains.
Sayer was a presenter for the BBC and several radio stations before he switched gears and became a voiceover artist. And though he’s read the news to millions of people and voiced many commercials, Sayer’s biggest legacy is surely his turn being the “mind the gap” voice.
He had the perfect formula: “When you start to feel slightly ridiculous in yourself, you’re probably just about getting it right,” he told the Manchester Evening News in 2010. “All it is, is actually just a very exaggerated version of your real self.”
When news of his death went public, some Londoners wrote that they remember his as a prominent voice of their childhood:
Others vowed not to forget him:
One even wrote Sayer a poem:
And Hamilton signed off her Facebook announcement in the best way possible: “We are sorry to announce that this service terminates here.”