Schoolgirl offers to do Big Ben's bongs

Big Ben being cleaned
The face of the clocktower being cleaned (Getty)

A young schoolgirl has offered up her voice to fill in for Big Ben when it falls silent early next year.

The famous London bell won't ring for several months while repairs to the clocktower are carried out.

"During this period there will be no chiming or striking," the UK parliament says on its website. "Striking and tolling will be maintained for important events."

Father Jon Hanson wrote on Facebook on Thursday: "Phoebe, my daughter, wrote a letter to Radio 4's PM show worried about how they are going to lead up to the 6 o'clock news with Big Ben being out of action next year.

"She offered her services to fill in and say BONG for them, their response was priceless."

Mr Hanson posted a letter from Roger Sawyer, editor of Radio 4's PM programme, in which he thanks her for her suggestion: "Some of the cleverest and most important people at the BBC are scratching their heads, wondering quite what do". 

Mr Sawyer advised young Phoebe "it would be quite a task for you doing the bongs: you'd have to rush in after school each day (and at the weekend), rush home for tea, homework, a bit of chillin', then a quick sleep.

"And then - here's the hard bit - you'd have to rush back in again at midnight, because there are live bongs again before the midnight news. That's an awful lot of work for someone who is still quite young."

He did thank Phoebe for her offer though, and said he was "very impressed" that she listened to Radio 4.

"I wish my two children did.

"Have a spiffing Christmas and stupendous and lucky 2017," he signed off.

Next year's silence will be the bell's third in 150 years, having previously stopped for nine months of repairs in 1976 and six weeks in 2007.