Hugh Laurie is an incredibly versatile actor. Quite how the same person can so convincingly portray both Gregory House and the Prince Regent in Blackadder is hard to fathom.

For those of us in the UK he’s perhaps best known for his portrayal of humorously foppish English gentlemen – whether it’s Prince George, or Bertie Wooster. The pitch of his voice rises, a large plum develops in his mouth, and he becomes a naive artistocrat, lost without his faithful (or conniving) butler. So successful was he at these parts that he also made a regular appearance as a voice-over artist for adverts with similar intonation.

Compare that to House. Gone is the bright-eyed stupidity, replaced with dark, brooding intellect. The voice is deeper – and American – and the fresh-faced youth of the past has given way to a craggy, characterful visage. It’s such a convincing portrayal that it’s sometimes hard to remember that he’s the same actor who urged Stephen Fry to “pass the marmalade” in full Pythonesque drag-and-falsetto mode.

When House was first shown on Channel 5 in the UK, however, there was one subtle clue that reminded us of Hugh Laurie’s past on this side of the Atlantic. Almost every break featured an advert for Tiscali (a broadband supplier) with a voice-over performed by Hugh in his foppish Englishman guise. What a great way to destroy the suspension of disbelief!

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↓ Transcript
G1: So you got the job then?

G2: Yep. The best writing job in hollywood. I'm now a staff writer for "House M.D."

G1: Congratulations… but it doesn't sound like the best writing job

G2: No, it is. People would kill for this job

G1: Why? Is it really that good?

G2: Well, you know how House is all about a miserable, offensive guy who deals with weird and wonderful medical cases

G2: Well that means that as a writer I can make the characters do absolutely anything I want, so long as there's a medical reason

G1: Anything?

G2: Yep, anything. Even stuff which you wouldn't normally get away with on TV

[Scene in the House production office. Caption: Some time later…]

G3: Well done. This script you've written is great

G2: You don't think it's too much then?

G3: No, it's fine. I particularly like the six year old girl calling that old lady a motherfrakker due to a brain parasite

G2: And you're sure it's okay for House to punch a disabled guy in the face to cure his hiccups?

G3: Yep, that's just the kind of thing our viewers like