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The talented Mr Ridley: Q&A with the Lost Voice Guy

Written by Arts, Latest

The Lost Voice Guy is a stand-up comedian who was crowned the winner of Britain’s Got Talent in 2018. Lee Ridley was diagnosed with a neurological form of cerebral palsy during infancy which induced a brain infection and left him unable to speak. In later life he received a communication device. He is now renowned for being the first stand-up comedian in Britain to use a communication aid during his live performances. After stealing the nations hearts back in 2018 he now takes the country by storm on his extended UK tour Only in it for the Parking. Lee plans to hit the Toon at The New Vic, Newcastle on Saturday 2nd November. Prior to his performance, writer Sophie Wilson quizzed the comedian on his time at university, dealing with fame and all things comedy.

Did you enjoy your time studying journalism at the University of Central Lancashire?

I adored my time at university it really was some of the best years of my life. I would really love to go back in time and experience it all again. It was my first real taste of independence and I grew up a lot when I was there. It definitely shaped me into the person I am today.

Do you have any particular fond memories of your time at university?

To be honest most of my favourite memories of university are of going out with my friends and getting drunk in Preston. I made some really good mates in Preston and we’ve kept in touch ever since. It was definitely those people who made my university experience so good.

Do you have any advice for undergraduate students about how to make the most of university, and how they can use their degree to get a job that they enjoy?

I would just advise students to enjoy every second of it because it really does go so quickly. One moment you are a Fresher and the next you are graduating with a degree. People should definitely just take a step back from time to time and appreciate everything they’ve got. Don’t let stress spoil it for you.  

Being a patron of the Sequal Trust must be a rewarding experience. The charity says that its mission is to help people be seen as individuals rather than as being seen through their disability. Do you think that universities should be doing more to help those with any type of disability feel comfortable at university?

Yes, I’d like to see universities do more to help disabled people whilst they are studying. I was made to feel really at home when I started university myself so it would be nice to think that other disabled people have similar experiences. I think many universities already do a good job but it’s important that they keep on improving further.

“For the first time they seem comfortable talking to a disabled person”

What is your favourite part of your job?

My favourite part of the job is definitely the reaction I get from the audience. One of the best things to happen since I started comedy is that people are engaging with me a lot more than they would have in the past. For the first time they seem comfortable talking to a disabled person. I am used to being stared at for negative reasons so it’s nice to be stared at for positive reasons for a change.

What has been your favourite place to perform at from all of your gigs?

This is very biased of me, but I love performing in my home city of Newcastle. You just can’t beat playing in front of a home crowd who all adore you. So, I always look forward to shows in Newcastle the most.

“I think my favourite memory from the whole thing was the face that I made when I won”

How surreal was the Britain’s Got Talent experience, and what is your favourite memory of it?

The whole experience has been amazing from start to finish and I’ve had the best 12 months. I’ve made some really good friends by doing the show and the reaction from the general public was phenomenal. Winning the show has changed my life in so many ways. I am busier than I ever was before as a comedian. I am on a nationwide tour and I have also written a book called ‘I am only in it for the parking’. I think my favourite memory from the whole thing was the face that I made when I won. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as excited as that before.

How did you cope with such a big lifestyle change when you were propelled into the public limelight?

I think I just had to adapt to the changes really. For example, I used to check my social media a lot more than I do now. It was almost part of my daily routine but now I’ve learned that you can’t keep on top of everything, so I don’t check it as often. It also helps that I turned off the social media notifications on my phone as well. I also think I’ve become much better at managing my time too. I plan what I need to do much more than I used to, so it doesn’t all creep up on me at once. My physical health is definitely a lot harder to look after because I am often travelling, I get quite tired from that. So, I have to pace myself and not push myself to do too much. Once again, I think that I’ve learned to do this better over the year. I’ve realised that my health is much more important than my job.

Lee’s upcoming show Only in it for the Parking tours at The New Vic in Newcastle on 2nd November.

Last modified: 29th October 2019

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