I'm no Henry Higgins but at least I can tell North of England from Southern and even suss from their voices that Ant and Dec from the TV are Geordies. I can also hear basic London (the now ubiquitous Estuary voice, innit?), Mancunian and of course Liverpudlian. And of course 99% of the time I can tell an Australian accent from one of the English ones - New Zealand sounds just like it to me and 'Seth Effrican' (South African) is amazingly similar to these (they all were colonized around the same time), only with a stiff, slightly Germanic sound from Afrikaans mixed in.
I think most Americans are only aware of two English accents, posh and stage-Cockney - the only ones heard in American movies and TV - and maybe three, with Liverpudlian if they're big Beatles fans from that period.
Tangential thought: if Loyd Grossman, OBE is so successful, and he is (but how on earth has he lasted in broadcasting talking the way he does?), why doesn't he pay the money and hire Gwyneth Paltrow's or Meryl Streep's accent coach for elocution lessons and learn how to do a decent English accent (or any
English accent) instead of that self-invented one he uses
, let's look at the evidence... the dawdgy accent... ') Either that or just drop it and use his original American voice, which shows up in every other sentence anyway. Then again, trying to improve NHS food was genuinely nice - maybe for that he earns the right to talk however he likes along with the Queen's honours. (Are his sauces any good? Haven't been to Tesco's in over a decade.)
Back to accents and TV - in the States one only hears about six American accents: neutral newsreader-speak (a flat Midwestern or Californian accent, considered posh in a way); Valley Girl talk, which in 20 years has gone from a joke to the way white Generation Y really talks; surfer-dude-speak, the male version of Valley Girl; Noo Yawk-speak for white tough-guy characters, even if they're from Milwaukee (Fonzie); Southern for comic white characters, even if they're supposed to be in Vermont; and black, a kind of Southern accent heard all over the country that's considered hip and widely imitated (Two Beer White Guy
), rather like Estuary/Mockney in England (talk downmarket to sound cool).