Lee Ridley (comedian)

Lee Ridley (born 31 December 1980) is an English stand-up comedian. Disabled since early life, and unable to speak, he is the first standup comedian in Britain to use a communication aid in his routines, performing them under the stage name of Lost Voice Guy.[2] He rose to prominence in June 2018 after winning the 12th series of Britain's Got Talent.[3]

Lee Ridley
PseudonymLost Voice Guy
Born (1980-12-31) 31 December 1980
Consett, County Durham, England [1]
MediumStand-up, television
Years active2012–present
GenresImprovisational comedy, observational comedy
Notable works and rolesBritain's Got Talent (2018)
America's Got Talent: The Champions (2019)
WebsiteOfficial website


Early life

Ridley is originally from Consett, County Durham.[1] At the age of six months he was diagnosed with a neurological form of cerebral palsy, brought about by a brain infection that left him in a coma for two months,[4] which affected his movement and rendered him unable to speak.[2][5] His disability in early life made it difficult to communicate with people, until the age of eight when he received his first communication device,[4] while his education at a school for disabled children was aided by supportive teachers.[4] Between 1999 and 2002, he studied journalism and online journalism at the University of Central Lancashire,[6] achieving an undergraduate degree in the former, and a master's degree in the latter. In 2006, he worked as a journalist with the BBC and local newspapers,[7] before taking on the role of online content manager for the city of Sunderland in 2007.[8]


Ridley began performing comedy in 2012,[9] having grown up with a love for it, including standup performances.[4] His decision to perform standup himself came in the aftermath of a gig conducted by Ross Noble, in which Ridley encountered the comedian and challenged him on the quality of Noble's impersonation of Stephen Hawking,[5] claiming he could do a far better impersonation of the renowned physicist. To formulate his routines, Ridley purchased an iPad voice synthesizer app called Speak It!, which he pre-programmed with sentences based on material he created.[10][11] Following his first show, Ridley adapted his routine by selecting material that had received favourable audience reaction, and adopting a style of improvisation in which he occasionally created new material onstage through his synthesizer in real-time.[5] His first successful show was at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2013,[10] although he was forced to cut this short after he developed pneumonia.[12]

In 2014, Ridley won the BBC Radio New Comedy Awards,[13] and by 2015, he began to pursue a professional comedy career,[14] performing a new show entitled Disability for Dunces, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe that year. The following year, he performed a sequel of the show, entitled "Volume 2", and in 2017, launched a new show entitled Inspiration Porn, which made fun of "inspirational" videos and memes about disability.[15] After winning the award, he was contacted by The Sequal Trust, who asked him to come on board as a patron of their communication disability charity, a title he still holds today.

In 2018, Ridley took a starring role on Radio 4 sitcom Ability, which he co-wrote with the writer and comedian Katherine Jakeways.[15] His role involved him playing as the disabled 'Matt', who moves out from his parents' home to share with his best friend from school, who refreshingly treats him as an equal but is not the influence Matt's concerned parents are looking for.[16][17] In June 2018, Ridley won the 12th series of Britain's Got Talent after successfully making it through the audition stages, and winning the show by the public vote.[18][3][19]

In 2019, Ridley competed in America's Got Talent: The Champions, where he was eliminated in the preliminaries.

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2018 Talent Recap Fan Choice Awards Favorite Talent Show Winner Britain's Got Talent Nominated


  1. Autograph – Lee Ridley, in Living North; retrieved 4 July 2015
  2. Lost Voice Guy: Heard the one about the stand-up comedian who can't speak?, by Alice Jones, in the Independent; published 11 December 2014; retrieved 4 July 2015
  3. Natasha Sporn (4 June 2018). "Britain's Got Talent winner: Lost Voice Guy crowned 2018 champion". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  4. Amy Brookbanks (6 June 2018). "Britain's Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy reveals 'I didn't have any friends as a child and my iPad saved me'". TheSun.co.uk. Retrieved 6 June 2018.
  5. Lee Ridley: making comedy out of silence, by Gary Evans, in the Guardian; published 6 June 2012; retrieved 4 July 2015
  6. "Former Preston student Lee Ridley through to the next round of Britain's Got Talent". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  7. CM Admin (20 November 2012), "Finding My Voice" – Lee Ridley, retrieved 23 April 2018
  8. Lee Ridley: ‘Disabled people are either inspirational, or benefit cheats’, by Mary O'Hara, at the Guardian; published 15 April 2015; retrieved 4 July 2015
  9. The stand-up comic who cannot speak, by Colin Paterson; at the BBC; published 13 April 2012; retrieved 4 July 2015; "two months ago he did his first show"
  10. Lee Ridley: Stand-up success for 'Lost Voice Guy' comic, by Phil Mawson, at the BBC; published 9 August 2012; retrieved 4 July 2015
  11. "BBC – The Ouch! Blog: Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy: the communication revolution (technology and disabled people series)". Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  12. Voiceless comedian in hospital after contracting pneumonia during Edinburgh Fringe performances, by Jane O'Neill, in the Sunderland Echo; published 27 August 2013; retrieved 4 July 2015
  13. Lost Voice Guy wins BBC New Comedy Award 2014, at British Comedy Guide; published 17 December 2014
  14. BBC launches its 2015 New Comedy Award, by Andrew Dipper; at GiggleBeats; published 17 June 2015; retrieved 5 July 2015
  15. Peacock, Robert (21 April 2018). "Interview: Lost Voice Guy". The Wee Review. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
  16. Hodgson, Barbara (6 January 2017). "Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley stars in new BBC Radio 4 sitcom". nechronicle. Retrieved 23 April 2018.
  17. Guide, British Comedy. "Ability - Radio 4 Sitcom". British Comedy Guide.
  18. Hegarty, Tasha (21 April 2018). "Britain's Got Talent's The Lost Voice Guy has everyone in stitches". Digital Spy. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  19. "Revealed: Just how clear was Lost Voice Guy's victory". www.chortle.co.uk. Chortle. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 4 June 2018.
Preceded by
Tokio Myers
Winner of Britain's Got Talent
Succeeded by
Colin Thackery
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