THE traditional refined English accent is in danger of disappearing, and the hit Australian TV soap Neighbours could be partly to blame.
Casting directors for a range of plays, TV shows and films in Britain are struggling to find actors who can speak proper English.
The problem appears to stem from a drop in the number of young people brought up to speak with a clipped English accent known as received pronunciation (RP), The Times newspaper reported.
Known as "the accent of educated south-eastern England" and famously used by BBC announcers, RP is gradually being replaced by the classless estuary English, which is based on non-regional and southeastern English pronunciation and intonation.
And it seems parts of Australian accents could be filtering into the mix.
TV producer Suzan Harrison said she had found casting children in British dramas difficult because many had picked up "an Antipodean lilt from watching Neighbours".
The BBC is also finding it difficult to find two girls to star in a feature-length adaptation of the children's novel Ballet Shoes, which is set in London during the 1930s.
The show's producers claim they are unable to find girls who can dance, act and speak in middle-class accents.
"We've been to drama schools, ordinary schools and children's agents but we still haven't found the right girls," casting director Susie Parriss told the newspaper.
"It doesn't matter whether you got to public schools or comprehensives, children just speak common estuary now.
"That is the trend. But our story requires our leads to speak with a clear middle-class accent."