Jay Blades has never been able to read - but why?

Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 – why can’t the Repair Shop star read?

Jay goes on an inspirational journey

Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 airs tonight on BBC One (Wednesday January 26) – why can’t the popular host read?

The Repair Shop star has battled dyslexia for many years.

And in this one-off show, he details his biggest challenge – learning to read as a middle-aged man.

But what happened to Jay and why can’t he read?

Jay Blades has never been able to read - but why?
The Repair Shop star embarks on a special journey (Credit: BBC)

Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51: What’s it all about?

Jay says in the show that trying to read is “pure pain”.

After half a decade of not being able to read, he sets himself a challenge: to read a story to his youngest daughter before she turns 16.

But it’s going to be hard work.

Read more: The Repair Shop star Jay Blades reveals he contemplated suicide and didn’t ‘see a future’

And he admits that this is his first attempt to learn to read since school.

In an interview ahead of the show, he said about reading: “The letters are all ants, and they just keep on moving around. So you try and hold them down.”

“It’s insane, I’m telling you.

“And it gives you a headache because imagine trying to see something that’s constantly moving.”

Jay Blades has never been able to read - but why?
Jay slipped through the net at school (Credit: BBC)

Why can’t Jay Blades read?

Jay has always got by thanks to his bravado and confidence, and asking people to read things for him.

His struggles with reading began at school.

Appearing on an episode of Lorraine, he explained: “I did slip through the net.

“My school was broken up into different classes – so you had people who were in the ‘Ps’ who were quite intelligent and people in the ‘Ms’ who were medium learners.

“Then you had the Ls. And I was in the Ls. At school we called it for the losers because we didn’t really do much work and never got much homework.

“There wasn’t really an emphasis on getting us to learn. That’s how I slipped through the net.”

the repair shop on bbc one
Jay on The Repair Shop (Credit: BBC)

When was he diagnosed with dyslexia?

A difficult childhood saw him estranged from his father and in later life he found out he had 25 brothers and sisters.

Leaving school undiagnosed with dyslexia, he worked as a labourer and in factories.

And it wasn’t until he reached 30 and attended Buckinghamshire New University (to study criminology) that he was finally diagnosed properly.

At aged 31 he was told he had the reading age of 11.

Jay Blades has never been able to read - but why?
Jay employs an assistant to help with emails (Credit: BBC)

Asking others to read for him

For decades Jay lived in silence about his inability to read or write.

He hid his poor reading and writing skills from employers, pals and even girlfriends.

Jay says he pretended to have forgotten his glasses if he was ever asked to read a letter, and once had to ask a stranger at a bus stop to read a letter from the hospital.

And for the first three years of The Repair Shop, scripts and schedules remained unread.

Now he employs an assistant to read his emails for him.

Read more: The Repair Shop star Jay Blades announces he’s engaged to partner Lisa

In an interview with iNews, he said: “It’s not because I’m showbiz; it’s just because I can’t do it.

“I’m very fortunate that I can pay for someone to answer emails.”

But still his inability to read has caused him problems. When he appeared on Richard Osman’s House Of Games he came last because he couldn’t read the questions.

He said he found the experience “really difficult”.

But now, embarking on a new journey, he hopes the show will inspire others.

“I think a lot of people [who struggle to read] are embarrassed. I hope it will inspire other people to give it a go.”

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