Lost Voice Guy Wins BGT: Is It a Big Deal?
The 10th series of Britain’s Got Talent (BGT) show just wrapped up this past weekend. Its winner, Lee Ridley, made history in being not only the first comedian to win this talent show but also the first disabled contestant to win.
Primarily Known as the ‘Lost Voice Guy’, Lee Ridley, as you probably guessed by now has no voice, so in his stand-up he uses a voice box which communicates for him. I won’t go into a full breakdown of his stand-up because
- a) He stole all of my jokes, (at least all of the good ones)
- b) I’m currently suing him for his £250,000 prize money, for plagiarism (refer to point A) and I don’t want to put my case in jeopardy.
If you wish to hear the blatantly ripped of comedy routine click here
Instead, I would like to propose the question, is this a watershed moment for disability? A day after Lee Ridley was crowned the winner; this question was raised in a BBC article to a few disabled celebrities in similar industries to Lee Ridley. Their response seemed to be quite heated and centered around the way the media represent disabled people.
“No,” says broadcaster Mik Scarlet, a former news broadcaster, who is now an inclusion and equality trainer. “I think it’s just another one of those moments that happens throughout the history of media.
“The media has always believed that the public can’t cope with disability, but that’s just never been my experience. What this actually needs to be is a watershed moment where the media wakes up to the fact that, actually, the general public are absolutely fine with disability.”
I think I understand Mik’s point of view and I agree with him somewhat, in the sense that we can always do more to raise awareness of disability, but we can say that about any minorities living in society today. I disagree with Mik on his opening gambit “The media has always believed” because in the last five years, disability has been slowly getting more “mainstream” coverage – for a lack of a better word, whether it be on television with niche shows like EastEnders and Game Of Thrones. An Oscar winning film about the late Stephen Hawking was met with critical acclaim. Even Netflix has gotten into the action with shows like Atypical, about a teenage boy with autism, dealing with the highs and lows of being a high school student.
Granted, there is a risk that these shows can do more harm then good, in regards to exploiting stereotypes and relying on cliché storylines. Case in point, the film, Me Before You, a film so bad I’m surprised it didn’t set back disability issues 20 years. I think that’s where Mik’s view of the media comes from, an idea that because you are disabled you can’t lead a fulfilling and happy life, which Me Before You continued to perpetuate throughout the film.
With Lee Ridley winning Britain’s Got Talent, I think it’s another big step in bringing disability to the forefront of the public, and opening up more opportunities for the disabled in film, TV and radio industries. To me, Lee Ridley was just funny. That’s it, and the public responded to it. Obviously, he draws a lot of material from his disability and some people may be uncomfortable by some of his jokes. In my experience of watching comedians, a lot of their comedy comes from their personal lives. If you’re funny, you’re funny and the Lost Voice Guy is.
Now to sue him for all he’s worth!