Sue Perkins hails importance of audio description to make cinema more inclusive

Sue Perkins has said she hopes more prominence is placed on audio description in movies so “everybody experiences the wonder of cinema equally”.

The comedian and TV presenter, 53, has lent her voice to upcoming fantasy film Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves, which stars Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, Rege-Jean Page, Sophia Lillis and Hugh Grant.

Audio description is a form of narration providing information on key visual elements, such as expressions, movements or body language, for blind or partially sighted viewers, communicated through a personal headset.

Perkins, who started off doing voiceovers for animations and video games and provided some audio description of the action during her time on The Great British Bake Off, told the PA news agency she enjoyed recording the narration for the film.

“I really hope they do more of these and more prominence is placed on it… You’re a tiny cog in the wheel but you’re helping to properly give value to making cinema more accessible,” she said.

“If cinema can’t be accessible we’re really screwed because imagination, after all, is for everyone.

“I think at the moment, perhaps more than any other time in my life, we’ve needed storytelling and fun and the expansiveness of the human imagination, and the idea that those things aren’t available in fullness to everybody saddens me.

“I know people who are visually impaired and the idea that there are audio descriptions that really flesh out for them, and obviously the film itself has extraordinary sound and musical textures within it that transport you, but then you get the voice describing all the particularities of movements and character and stuff.

“It just means that everyone can have that rounded cinematic experience that, to be honest, people like me take for granted.”

She also reflected on the importance of wheelchair accessibility in cinemas as well as improving the experience for those who are blind, deaf or who need extra accommodations.

“I think they’re all very important adjuncts to make sure that everybody experiences the wonder of cinema equally,” she said.

The cinematic adaptation of the famous role-playing game follows a charming thief and a band of unlikely adventurers who undertake a heist to retrieve a lost relic.

Things go dangerously awry when they run into difficulty with the wrong people.

Perkins said she was proud to reveal that she played the game a lot in her youth and still dabbles occasionally.

“People like me got cast rather negatively as sort of nerdish but it’s just a great way, when you’re little, which is when I first got into it, of exploring the realms of your own imagination and it’s fun,” she said.

“The film is fabulous in the sense that it doesn’t denigrate that community, it really upholds the fun of playing D&D whilst giving people who aren’t interested or don’t know that world a really rollicking good movie.

“I think the world of magic in particular is incredibly transporting at the moment, the idea that you can literally conjure another reality.

“And that’s what cinema at its best does really… it transports you from the humdrum or the sad or the whatever into a whole new plane.

“And with Dungeons and Dragons, of course, you’re literally doing that, they’re casting portals into other realms, they’re using their various toolkits of spells and extraordinariness to enhance or change reality.

“It’s lovely, you go into that darkened space and you should be transported, you should be captivated.

“I think it can be pretty dismal outside of the cinema sometimes so I try and spend as much time inside there as I can.”

Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves is released in cinemas on March 31.