Having won the 2018 edition of Britain’s Got Talent (the first comedian to do so) Lost Voice Guy has landed his biggest gig yet – appearing in front of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex for the Royal Variety Performance.
Lee Ridley uses a voice synthesiser to perform his act, a self-deprecating look at life as a disabled person. But who is the man behind the comedy stylings? Here’s everything you need to know…
Lee Ridley – the early years
Lee Ridley was born in Consett, Country Durham, on 31st December 1980, but developed a brain infection at just six months old, sparked by a cold sore.
Ridley was left in a coma for two weeks – with his family initially doubting he would survive.
His illness led to Ridley receiving a diagnosis of cerebral palsy – leaving him with a limp and rendering him speechless.
Ridley has explained that growing up in Newcastle, his inability to speak left him feeling lonely and isolated as a child.
“I think one of the [hardest] things about my disability when I was younger was socialising,” he told The Sun.
"I didn't really have friends as a child because obviously I found it hard to communicate so I felt very isolated at times.”
However, Ridley, who was spent to a specialist school to cater for his needs, felt his confidence grow when he was given his first communication device at the age of eight.
Ridley went to study an undergraduate and Masters degree in Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire between 1999-2002, before going on to work as a journalist and for the BBC in Newcastle, and as an online content manager in Sunderland.
When Lee Ridley became Lost Voice Guy
Ridley took the plunge into the world of comedy in 2012 – a long-time comedy fan, he only took to the stage after a friend recommended he give it a try.
“Being a stand-up was always a dream job,” he said to the BBC. “But that’s all I thought it was though, a dream. I gave it a go because I thought I’d regret it if I didn’t.”
Performing under the alias Lost Voice Guy, Ridley’s self-deprecating swipes about life as a disabled person, and life under the Tory government, soon saw him making waves on the Newcastle stand-up circuit, as he performed his comedy stylings on iPad voice synthesizer app Speak It.
Being offered a support slot for Ross Noble, Ridley took his comedy to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2013 – before winning the BBC New Comedy Award in 2014, a prize previously won by Peter Kay and Russell Howard.
“It may be funny, it may be uncomfortable at times, but in the end I think it’s worth it because everyone (including me) goes away with a better understanding of life,” he told The Guardian.
“Comedy allows people to look at things in a slightly different light. It’s almost as if you’re enjoying yourself while learning something or hearing a different opinion at the same time. Laughter is a very powerful weapon.”
Lost Voice Guy – before Britain’s Got Talent
In 2015, Ridley began to pursue a full-time career in comedy, launching a second Edinburgh Fringe show called Disability for Dunces, alongside a sequel the following year.
In 2017 came a follow-up show named Inspiration Porn, which mocked videos and memes about disability.
Before he stole the show with his Britain’s Got Talent audition, he co-wrote and starred in Radio 4 sitcom Ability with Katherine Jakeways, which sees his character Matt move out of his parent’s home to live with his best friend, and bad influence, Bob.
Britain’s Got Talent
Ridley was the first comedy act to take the top Britain’s Got Talent prize beating fellow comedian Robert White to win £250,000 and a spot at the Royal Variety Performance in 2018.
After winning the show, he told ITV’s Lorraine, “A comedian has never won Britain’s Got Talent before so I wasn’t sure how well my act would go down with the audience. I was surprised when I made the final and I certainly never expected to win, so it turned out perfectly.
“I’m definitely going to get a Geordie accent for my iPad, because I’m sick of sounding like a posh version of Robocop.”