AWARD-winning comic Lee Ridley was born in County Durham, but don’t expect a Geordie accent.
He’s also known as Lost Voice Guy and won Britain’s Got Talent by performing stand-up using a communication aid…which appears to have a southern accent.
“I have lived in Newcastle all my life, but for some reason, I still haven’t picked up the accent,” laughs Lee, who has never been able to talk naturally. “However, if you are trying to place my accent, it’s from PC World…
“To be honest, I didn’t have much choice. The app I use to speak only had a limited number of voices to choose from, and my particular voice was the best of a bad bunch.
“I’m quite used to sounding like a posh version of RoboCop now though, and I think the posh accent makes my jokes even funnier. I’ve sounded like this for most of my life, so I do think of it as being my own voice. I’d feel weird if I had to change it now.”
The 39-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, says the main reason he entered Britain’s Got Talent was “obviously to meet Ant and Dec” but adds: “I also did it because I thought it would help me develop as a performer. Of course, I never expected to win it. In fact, I had to cancel my summer holiday because it clashed with the final.”
Lee encourages people to laugh with him about disability, and derides those who are patronising or prejudiced, and says life has changed a lot since his TV success.
“As a comedian, I’m busier than ever,” he says. “But one of the best things to happen since I won 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’m used to being stared at for negative reasons, so it’s nice to be stared at for positive reasons for a change.
“You would be surprised at how many people come up to me after gigs and ask if I really can’t speak. Because, of course, it would totally be acceptable to pretend to be disabled for a laugh!”
Lee, who last year became the star of Radio 4 sitcom Ability, is out on the road with his latest stand-up show, I’m Only In It For The Parking, and brings it to G Live, Guildford, on Saturday 5 October and Camberley Theatre on Monday 14 October.