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Should TV Shows Use French Voice Overs?

TV shows commonly use voice overs all over the world. It mainly applies to foreign TV shows. Broadcasters realise everyone doesn’t enjoy subtitles so they dub the original voices with French equivalents. Recently, this is a debate many people have been having, especially in the UK where learning French is common to nearly every school in the land.

We examine both sides of the debate here. Should TV shows use a French voice over?

Loss of Flavour

Some would say it’s wise to continue using French in certain shows and opt for subtitles instead. The anime community regularly argues over whether subtitles are better than dubbing the Japanese characters with English or American voices.

Advocates say dubbing takes the original flavour away from the show. The voices rarely resemble the characters portrayed in the original episode. This can send mixed messages and temper the intense feelings felt by maintaining the original voices and simply entering subtitles.

Language Learning

It’s no secret the UK has a terrible record for learning other languages. We already have a natural disadvantage, though. The UK is an island and most European destinations have populations who can already speak English. It’s something the government has tried to change. It wants to alter the population’s attitude towards languages.

Implementing a French voice over would enable this to happen. It would allow viewers to pick up little pieces of French and compare it against the subtitles.

It’s how children learn how to speak. They listen to what adults and other children say around them. Over time, they repeat these phrases and form them into sentences. It’s how colloquial dialects continue to endure.

No Ratings

It’s likely to cause some controversy if we decided to take this route. British TV enthusiasts have become so used to dubbing the use of another language could potentially confuse and annoy viewers.

Broadcasters worry it would cause TV ratings to go down. This is the same fear TV networks in the US have. The majority of American TV shows have dubbed characters for this reason.

But this would likely only last temporarily. People naturally resist change. In the UK, it’s a very conservative country and things take a long time to change and adjust. Over time, people would return to their TV screens as they get more used to another language being spoken in place of English.


The implementation of a single language would open the door to other languages, such as Spanish and German, being used. This would likely confuse much of the British population, as they haven’t been widely exposed to such languages.

It’s different in mainland Europe where languages intermingle regularly. Countries like Switzerland, for example, have over three major languages spoken in the country. It wouldn’t be an issue there.

In the UK, things don’t work this way. Whilst it’s a good idea to expose the population to other languages, there are better ways to do it which doesn’t impact TV networks and annoy a large number of the population.

Melody Miler is the mastermind behind this article. She loves sharing her expertise about French voice overs

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