Don't peh-nic: Alaskan TikToker's guide to Scottish regional accents

The Glasgow-based actor and comedian is wowing Scots with his talented take on a variety of regional accents.

An Alaskan actor and comedian is sending Scots into hysterics with his take on regional Scottish accents.

Tyler Collins, 33, racked up one million TikTok views last October with a video which saw him sweep through accents from Glasgow, Dundee, Fife, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Borders.

The performer has been living in Glasgow for 16 years and has mastered a variety of localised accents – from a Dundonian burr to the dulcet tones of Morningside.

His latest clip, under @the_two_metre_man on Tiktok, saw his attempt on the Ayrshire accent – paying tribute to Robert Burns and explaining the meaning of the well-used word ‘Gadz’.

The clips have gone down a storm with Scots who applauded his “impressive and accurate” ability – with one adding “Hollywood could never”.

He told STV News: “I think a lot of it has been the shock value of an American doing a lot of different accents, but the reaction from folk has been really lovely.

“An interesting thing that I’ve noticed is that highlighting all the kinds of accents makes people feel seen. There are so many small towns and areas of Scotland that aren’t that acknowledged.

“The amount of Fifers that have said ‘no one talks about Fife’…

“Each of the regional ones, people in those areas will latch on to and comment.

“I’ve always been interested in how people communicate with each other. It’s great to make people laugh.

“Scots don’t hear it as much but as an outsider, it’s helped me pick up on minute differences between each accents, which is always a fun conversation.”

After receiving a scholarship to study at the Interlochen Arts Academy, he moved to Glasgow to study drama at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2007.

Tyler said he has always been a “natural mimic”, imitating cartoon characters and classmates at high school.

He admitted it took him around three years to nail a “passable” Scottish accent, which helped him land voiceover gigs and the lead of an Irn Bru advert in 2013.

“That went a long way for me to be able to work and live and Scotland, and not just for being American,” he said.

The multi-talented actor has scored a series of roles on stage, film and TV throughout his career – more recently the all singing-all dancing Seaweed from Cbeebies’ children’s show Swashbuckle – and his knack for a variety of accents has earned him a number of Scottish parts too.

He starred as Hen Broon in the stage show of the Broons in 2017 and is currently featuring in musical Scots at the Oran Mor, which sees him take on five different regional accents.

He said: “As an American, you don’t hear the Glaswegian accent on many things – across the pond it’s either slowed down, or done poorly.

“So my goal while at uni had been to master a Scottish accent good enough to fool the Scots. I did a Scots competition and one judge even thought I was from Scotland.

“I guess I didn’t understand it as a talent, I just knew it was something I wanted to work on to pay the bills.

“I realised it was my niche when I started being put up for parts alongside native Scots.”

So what does a native Alaskan accent sound like?

To the untrained ear, Tyler sounds like an average American, but he demonstrated the difference with a comparison.

“We’re mostly immigrants, so there’s not a specific accent. I’d say we sort of trail off towards the end of sentences, like a downward inflection where we go quieter – whereas a Californian accent often has an upward inflection, like this?”

Tyler picks up accents by ear in the same way he learned to play piano without reading music, though he studies them more in-depth when auditioning for parts.

“Being around people is the best way to learn; you get the energy of why they talk the way they talk.

“One of my friends is from Coatbridge – I can imitate their accent really well.

“What’s interesting is that Coatbridge and Bathgate is almost split down the centre and Bathgate sounds ever so slightly more Edinburgh. Lewis Capaldi is from Bathgate but people always claim he’s Glaswegian.”

He added: “I didn’t understand the humour in Still Game when I first got here and a few years later, thought it was brilliant – it really encapsulates the feeling of the west coast.

“I love Scottish Twitter as I know exactly what everyone’s saying. It’s a tonal thing;you have to know the energy in some capacity.”

He explained how performing different accents depends on tongue placement and “creating room” in the mouth.

“I discovered how to create anchors in my mouth to certain accents. Tongue placement changes vowel sounds and consonants,” he said.

“It’s been hard for me to master an Irish accent as it is similar to American. Certain things have to change, like really light Ls, dentalising the T, a slight breathiness to do that.

“English people tend to ‘breathe through’ their sentences. The Scottish have a mix of that with a staccato.

“I also have phrases to help me get into each one; I place my tongue at the back of my mouth for a Dundee accent and say something like ‘Hullo, it’s John.'”

One of his favourite regional accents is the Borders; which he described as “lyrical” and varies from “east coast to west coast.”

‘Knackered’, ‘boke’, ‘scunnered’ and ‘shanner’ are also, in his opinion, some of the best words in Scottish vocabulary.

“‘Yous’ is the absolute antithesis of anything you’re taught in English, I didn’t understand it for ages.

Right now, Tyler is challenging himself to learn Scots Doric, a language spoken in the north-east.

He added: “They have a lot of different words for things, but it’s cool and exciting. I’m always trying to add to my repertoire.”

The actor said his dream is to create a “Scottish SNL” which represented parts of Scotland outside of Glasgow or Edinburgh and points to online comedians like Shetlander Marjolein Robertson.

“I’ve always been a comedian, so that’s my pipe dream. I would love to produce Scottish work that translates well to America, Canada and Australia.

“Glaswegian comedy is great but I don’t feel an ownership of that. I would love to see what more people across wider Scotland could do together.”