Lost Voice Guy

Lost Voice Guy

Lost Voice Guy, aka Lee Ridley, suffers from cerebral palsy, which means he has no speech, and uses an iPad app to talk for him. He took up comedy in 2012, and made his Edinburgh debut in 2013, although his run was cut short when he became ill, and he returned for the full festival the following year. In 2014, he wonthe BBC Radio New Comedy Awards.
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Champion! Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley gets his Geordie accent

...and he'll be using it on tour

Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley has finally received delivery of his new Geordie voice – which he says he will use on his new tour.

The news comes a year after the Consett-born comic – who was left unable to talk after he developed the brain inflammation encephalitis as a baby – first put out an appeal to replace the robotic voice in his communication device with his native accent.

He chose voiceover artist Dan Pye, from Whickham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, for the job.

Ridley said: ‘It feels amazing to finally sound more like my family and friends. I’ve dreamed about this day since I got my first communication aid when I was eight years old.

‘I’ve already been enjoying saying all my favourite Geordie phrases such as "whey aye man"  and "howay". It’s nice to have a local accent at last! I can’t wait to try it out on my new tour.’
Ridley gave fans a preview of the voice during the Christmas Comedy Club he hosted for  ITV at the end of last year:


At the time he said he hadn’t made a decision whether he should permanently dump the original voice – called ‘UK Adult Male Graham’ – in his stage act, which includes many gags about the unrealistic tones.

He told Metro: ‘‘I’ve had the same voice for most of my life now, so it’s going to be a big change. I would definitely like to use it in my day-to-day life, though.

‘My fans are always asking me when I’m going to get a Geordie accent, so I think they’d be quite pleased if I used it in my routines. I do think that swearing in a posh voice is much funnier though… So it’s going to be a hard choice to make.’

More than 500 potential ‘voice donors’ from the Newcastle area responded to Ridley’s initial appeal. Each as asked to read a short extract from his memoirs, so the comic could best select the voice that he felt best suited his regional and family accent.

Pye said: ‘Being able to help Lee communicate in a tone which is more personal to him is fantastic. Being a Geordie has a very distinctive, nationally recognisable tone which I am very proud of. Sharing that with Lee, I hope will give him a sense of identity that the rest of the North East are famed for.’

Speech software experts CereProc customised the vocabulary  to include phrases that Lee will say, including regional Geordie slang.

Pye spent six hours in the studio recording all the necessary sounds, in a range of vocal emotional styles ro help Ridley  express himself better.

The company’s chairman Paul Welham said the technology ‘gives Lee and others the freedom to have their own accent to talk with, rather than a bland BBC accent. To hear Lee speak with a Geordie accent has been an ambition of mine since we first met, as I believe Lee is such a great inspiration to everyone with a disability.’

In a 2018 BBC Three documentary, Ridley investigated whether Geordie was the funniest accent.

And the following year he made a film for The One Show in which he helped a young man called Jack acquire a Black Country voice for his synthesiser to match his family and friends, which gave the comic the idea to seek his own regional accent,

However, he’s previously been in two minds as to whether he should give his software a more natural voice.

In a 2019 interview, he said he ‘didn’t have much choice’ in how he spoke as the app  only had a limited number of voices, but added: ‘I think the posh accent makes my jokes even funnier. I’ve sounded like this for most of my life now, so I do think of it as being my own voice. I think I’d feel weird if I had to change it now.’

And in his book, Only In It For The Parking, he wrote: ‘Stephen Hawking’s voice identified him, my UK Adult Male Graham voice is as much a part of my stand-up now as my humour, T-shirts and facial expressions.’

Ridley starts his tour, Cerebral LOL-sy, at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree Theatre on March 7.

» Lost Voice Guy tour dates

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Published: 21 Feb 2022

Champion! | Lost Voice Guy finds his Geordie accent


Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley has found his Geordie accent. After…

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