BBC's Maryam Moshiri attempts seagull impression after report on bizarre contest

BBC's Maryam Moshiri attempts seagull impression after report on bizarre contest
BBC News presenter impersonates seagull after news report
BBC News

When it comes to niche competitions we didn’t know we needed in our lives, we’d argue that the EC Gull Screeching Competition takes the biscuit – or rather, chippy – and a nine-year-old boy from Derbyshire has won this year’s contest.

Cooper, also known as “Seagull Boy”, first started his vocal impressions of a seagull after being pecked by one in Devon while tucking into a tuna sandwich, initially annoying mum Lauren before realising her son was actually rather good at impersonating the bird.

She told the BBC: “People would start to turn around and look for the seagull.”

Cooper himself said: “I feel like they’re a really nice animal. I like them because of their noise.

“Sometimes they can be a bit scary and I’m still a bit wary of eating at the beach, so that’s why I eat in a small tent.

“The last meal I had at the beach was an ice cream.”

He also has a lucky mascot in the form of a model seagull, which his parents call Steven Seagull, in a pun referring to the Above the Law actor Steven Seagal.

Cooper just calls him Stephen.

It turns out Cooper’s family were first made aware of the competition from a random man at a soft-play centre who heard the boy’s impression and thought he should take part – so he did, and scored an impressive 92 points out of a possible 100 at the competition in Belgium.

So how do you even score a person’s seagull impression? The BBC reports each judge has a maximum of 20 points to award to a contestant, including up to five points for the individual’s costume/appearance and their behaviour.

As for the remaining 15 points, judge and marine biologist Jan Seys explained: “We pay attention to timbre, rhythm, as well as variation. After all, seagulls have a fairly extensive repertoire of sounds, ranging from alarm calls to long calls that make it clear that they do not want any unwanted intruders in their territory.

“[The competition] is more than fun and entertainment; it is also meant to elicit some sympathy for seagulls, which are an essential element of our coasts but are often maligned as 'rats of the sea'," he said.

"Also, we conceive of the judging as serious business, with a jury composed of professionals experienced in gull research and/or policy."

Social media users have been pretty shocked by the accuracy of Cooper’s performance, and he even got to show it off to former Years and Years frontman and Eurovision contender Olly Alexander:

And even BBC newsreader Maryam Moshiri – of middle finger and supermoon fame – tried her hand at an impression too:

Moshiri has since responded to a clip of her attempt, describing it as "literally the worst squawking ever".

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