Report by Jonny Blair
Britain's Got Talent winner Lost Voice Guy is finally able to use his new Geordie accent.
Lee Ridley, 41, is a comedian and author with cerebral palsy who is unable to speak, but uses a communication device.
In April last year, he chose voice-over artist, Dan Pye, who grew up in Whickham and currently lives in Hunwick, County Durham, to be his new voice donor.
The decision was made after Lee received more than 500 offers from potential donors, who each sent recordings of themselves reading an extract from his book 'I'm Only In It For The Parking'.
"Having this voice will give me a bit of my identity back," he told ITV News Tyne Tees.
"My family are from Consett in County Durham, so I'd like sound as close as I can to that, and I think this voice fits the bill."
"Of course, I've already started saying all the classic Geordie phrases such as 'ha'way the lads' and 'wey-aye, pet'," Lee continued.
Scottish-based speech synthesis company CereProc has been developing the voice, and the process involved Pye recording a script for six hours, during which he recreated a rage of vocal emotional styles.
Lee is thrilled with the outcome, saying: "There was nothing wrong with my other voice, except for the fact it sounded very posh.
"It sounded like I should be reading the shipping forecast on Radio 4, so it means a lot to me to finally sound like my family and friends."
Choosing between half a thousand applications was a difficult process, Lee explained. In the end, Dan's voice was chosen for its warm tone and cheerful cadence.
"I just thought it sounded upbeat and friendly, which is an advantage when you're a comedian" Lee said. "But I also thought it sounded similar to my family as well."
Watch our full interview with Lee - and his new voice
Paul Welham, CereProc's chairman, said: "Working with Lee has been a great opportunity for a greater audience, to see how CereProc's technology can be used to create regional accents, that 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, as he shows what can be achieved and overcome using technology combined wilt Lee's great tenacity."
His tour, entitled Cerebral LOL-sy, begins in March and will be the first time the new Geordie voice is heard on stage.
Ridley debuted a short clip of his new accent during his festive TV special, Christmas Comedy Club With Lost Voice Guy, but was unable to use it for the whole show as it was not yet fully operational.
Dan 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," he continued.
"Sharing that with Lee, I hope will give him a sense of identity that the rest of the North East are famed for."
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