Lee Ridley’s sheer talent shone through as he was crowned the winner of Britain’s Got Talent last night.
Lee, aka Lost Voice Guy, has been delighting fans week-in week-out with his hilarious one-liners, winning the hearts of the judges and the public alike.
It was fantastic to see this brilliant, hard-working disabled comedian given a platform to share his skills, with 10.6 million viewers tuning in to last night’s final.
Lee personifies the phrase, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.
When I say that, I’m not talking about his condition, cerebral palsy.
Because Lee took these comments and negative attitudes and turned them into a brilliant stand-up routine, he has just been crowned as the first comedian to win Britain’s Got Talent.
Lee – who is unable to speak due to his condition – performs using pre-recorded sentences on a Lightwriter computer.
His routine not only pokes fun at some of the ridiculous misconceptions people have about disability, it also shows how doing traditional stand-up in a different way can capture the public’s imagination.
Writing a blog for Scope long before he was crowned the nation’s champion, Lee said: “Basically, I’ve decided to answer all the stupid questions that I’ve ever been asked about disability.
“I’m even inviting the public to submit further questions to me if they are curious about anything, and if it’s good enough, I’ll put it in the show.
“It’s just a bit of fun really, but I guess I’d like to make people think a bit more before opening their mouths.
“It’s fun to play with people’s perceptions, and I think it helps take away some of the stigma from disability.”
Lee’s much-deserved victory is fantastic news for him personally and all of us at Scope were delighted to see him crowned champion on last night’s show. He’s a brilliant talent and he’s worked incredibly hard.
However Lee’s win could also be a milestone in improving public attitudes and understanding towards disability.
Too often disabled people’s ambitions, talent and potential go unrecognised as a result of negative attitudes and stigma.
Lee’s victory shows what can happen when we see a disabled person for who they are, and not just as their condition or impairment.
Disabled people remain hugely underrepresented on our screens, stages and in the public eye.
Just 2.5 per cent of people on our screens are disabled, and Scope’s research shows that 81 per cent of disabled people feel they are not well represented in the media.
Humour is a great way to challenge attitudes, break down barriers and bring people together. That’s why last November, Scope held its first stand-up show Joke for Scope, featuring brilliant disabled comedians Adam Hills, Rosie Jones and Steve Day.
Lee was backed overwhelmingly by the public in a final in which two of the top three contestants were disabled - fellow finalist Robert White has Asperger’s Syndrome - but we know there is still a huge way to go to improve attitudes towards disability.
Scope research published last month showed that a third (32%) of disabled people feel there is a lot of prejudice towards disability – a figure which has barely changed in nearly two decades.
We need to ensure disabled people are given the same opportunities as everyone else in all areas of life. Otherwise negative attitudes towards disability will keep Britain’s disabled talent waiting in the wings forever.