Melissa Rauch reveals the origins of Bernadette's signature high-pitched voice in The Big Bang Theory. After becoming a recurring guest star, Rauch's Bernadette was eventually promoted to a series regular in season 4, alongside Mayim Bialik's Amy. Introduced as Penny's The Cheesecake Factory co-worker, Bernadette became Howard's love interest. Among the many great things about her character, her most well-known trait is her voice.
Years after The Big Bang Theory ended in 2019, Rauch tells co-star Bialik in her guest appearance on Mayim Bialik's Breakdown that Bernadette's voice wasn't actually in the script. Instead, she came up with it to stand out during auditions. Furthermore, Rauch says that her mother inspired her voice as Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory, although by no means are they similar. Read her full explanation below:
At the audition, I hadn't planned on doing it. It was just for a guest star initially, and I was just very nervous in the waiting room and there was so many there, and I just wanted to try something different and I just been on the phone with my mother whose register is very close to Bernadette's. And there was little bit like my mother in Bernadette. They're not by any means very similar, but there was just in the side that I was auditioning with that day in that material there... there's some characteristics that just reminded me of my mother. So I sorta did a little bit of an imitation of my mom without the Jersey accent.
Previously, Rauch revealed that her stint as The Big Bang Theory's Bernadette was only meant to be a guest role for a handful of episodes. Eventually, CBS decided to promote her full-time after the producers decided to expand the cast of The Big Bang Theory season 4. Despite not being always at the center of its storytelling, Bernadette was important to the nerd-centric sitcom. Had it not been for her and her relationship with Howard, Simon Helberg's character could have stayed sleazy for far longer, making criticisms about the show's brand of comedy worse.
As a character, Bernadette played a major role in making the show better, and her voice added a layer of emotionality to its storytelling. Aside from her, Mrs. Wolowitz was the only other The Big Bang Theory character known for her voice. In later seasons, Bernadette started to sound like her mother-in-law in some instances. While that could be scary for some partners, it wasn't for Howard. It may have been comforting for him after his mom died, given how close he was to her. Despite bickering with Mrs. Wolowitz, there was no doubt that he loved his mom, and Bernadette having a similar voice to her likely helped in his grieving process.
The Big Bang Theory was known for many recurring gags. It includes Raj's inability to speak to women, Sheldon's odd knocking habit, and even his "Bazinga" catchphrase. However, most of them were eventually dropped as the sitcom went on. Only Bernadette's voice remained consistent until the project wrapped up after 12 years, making Rauch's commitment to the bit very impressive.