‘You feel gutted’ Jay Blades on ‘embarrassment’ of being unable to read

Jay Blades discusses having physio during Strictly training

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Jay has confronted his struggle with reading in a new BBC documentary, Learning to Read at 51. The programme explores Jay’s journey as he details how he has been able to “blag it” to get to where he is despite lacking the skill. The TV presenter, most famous for hit show The Repair Shop, admitted he felt “a bit gutted” as he realised how he missed out on a good education as a child, which left him illiterate into adulthood.

Explaining his journey of learning to read, Jay talked about the way in which learning syllables helped him enormously.

He recalled how he asked his teacher when most people learn about them, believing it was something taught at university level. 

He explained: “She goes, ‘No, you learn that in school, Jay’. And then you go, ‘I didn’t learn none of this.’ You feel a bit gutted.”

Jay was placed in the “Ls” group at his school as a child, which stood for “learners”.

Speaking to Radio Times, he continued: “The L became for loser rather than for learning, so they told us effectively we weren’t there to learn.

“That disincentivised us from the start. The way the other students were treated by the teachers and the support they received was completely different.

“When the teacher tells you you’re a dunce and you’re never going to amount to anything, that sticks with you.”

He added: “People are embarrassed to admit they’re dyslexic. I’m 51 years old, and I’m getting taught like I’m a kid again.”

He told the publication it took “a lot of guts” to be prepared to learn what most people learn in childhood.

The show explores the way in which, in Britain, up to eight million adults and more than half the prison population struggle to read.

Jay became a famous face after The Repair Shop first aired in 2017.

The emotional show is a popular series with viewers, with a mix of artistic skill, nostalgia and touching moments shown as guests arrive at the famous barn hoping their cherished items can be restored.

Jay revealed he had suffered huge lows in life before landing the big break.

He is now instantly recognisable to fans of the show, who enjoy his skill and warmth as he hosts the emotional series.

Last month, the presenter shared a rare picture of him and his partner Lisa Zbozen to announce they had become engaged just before Christmas.

The photo showed Jay’s wife-to-be flashing her engagement ring, which was designed by him.

He went on to share pictures of the pair from their holiday together in Barbados.

Sharing the picture, Jay wrote: “Good afternoon all. Lunchtime Treat. It gives me great pleasure to announce that I got engaged to @lisamariezbozen.

“We wanted to share this news with you as we are very happy & hope to bring the same happiness your way. Ring designed by me & made by @rtfj.”

Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 airs on January 26 Jan at 9pm on BBC One.

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