Meet Spelling Bee's wordsmith Chris Edmund

Chris Edmund is the pronouncer on the TV series The Great Australian Spelling Bee.
Chris Edmund is the pronouncer on the TV series The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Channel 10

CHRIS Edmund has held many jobs over the years - teacher, actor, director, playwright.

But the role of spelling bee pronouncer is his newest, and most unexpected.

The former Head of Acting at the prestigious Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) has the all-important job of delivering the words that children must spell on Channel 10's hit new show The Great Australian Spelling Bee.

Edmund was initially reluctant to audition for the role, which he was nominated for by a former WAAPA student.

"I've been teaching actors for most of my career so I've always been on the other side of it (the camera), really. Being in front of the cameras was a very strange experience," Edmund told APN.

"I trained as an actor originally, so it's come full circle.

"It was one of those wonderful things in life that randomly just came out of the blue."

Chris Edmund is the pronouncer on the TV series The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Supplied by Channel 10.
Chris Edmund is the pronouncer on the TV series The Great Australian Spelling Bee. Supplied by Channel 10.

The show turned out to be a pleasant surprise for Edmunds and viewers, becoming a top trending topic on social media and debuting to a national audience of 1.19 million.

"I thought the show would, hopefully, touch a nerve. It has all the right ingredients," he said.

Edmund must clearly pronounce words for the children to spell, give the word's definition or origin if requested, and deliver the eagerly awaited new of if a word has been spelled correctly.

While he must remain objective, Edmunds is able to brandish the odd smile or "you can do better" look.

"They (the producers) didn't want me to be intimidating at all but they certainly wanted that distance," he said.

"When the kids came up to the spelling gate I'd try to give them a little smile of reassurance to put them at ease."

Edmund has a screen at his desk which is connected to the show's "war room", where representatives from the Macquarie Dictionary confirm the spelling of each word.

But he is already very familiar with the words for every episode well before they flash in front of him.

"We usually started filming around 10.30am so I would get in at 7.30am, sit down with the people from the Macquarie Dictionary and go through every word that might come up that day," he said.

"There were lots of words I didn't know and I had to make sure I was familiar with the meaning."

While Edmund is supposed to be retired, he continues to teach the occasional acting master-class and wrote and directed his own play in Dublin last year.

Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborah Lee Furness have teamed up with MasterCard to set up a scholarship in Edmund's name.

The first Chris Edmund Performing Art Scholarship will be awarded in October.

"I had a 30-year contribution to the acting course at WAAPA, so this is a lovely way to acknowledge that," he said.

"It will be given to a third-year student to assist them in however they want to use it in those difficult months when they leave the security of their WAAPA training."

The Great Australian Spelling Bee airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on Channel 10.

Topics:  chrissie swan grant denyer the great australian spelling bee

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