Jay Blades reveals motivation behind learning to read

The Repair Shop host Jay Blades said he started learning to read in the hope he could read his teenage daughter a bedtime story for the first time.

The TV star’s learning journey is to be documented in a one-off BBC One film, Jay Blades: Learning To Read At 51.

Speaking on The One Show to co-host Jermaine Jenas, Blades said: “For me it is always about inspiring people, the whole point around the documentary was to show people if I can do it at the age I’m at, then you can give it a go.

“The other reason, a big reason, was to read my daughter a bedtime story, I’ve never done that and she’s 15 years old now.

“I feel unbelievable about learning.”

Blades, originally from Hackney in east London, said his girlfriend read him the letter saying he was being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours and being made an MBE for his services to craft.

The furniture restorer, who recently appeared on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special, disclosed the coping strategies he has used to get by over the years.

He said: “When I was trying to get a job, you know you have to fill in the application forms, I would always say I didn’t have my glasses.

“I didn’t wear glasses at the time, and I would take it away and get someone else to fill it in.

Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special
Luba Mushtuk and her dance partner Jay Blades in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special (Guy Levy/BBC)

“I remember once I had a letter from a doctor and I had to go out on the street and get someone to read it to me because I didn’t know what it said in there.

“It was quite strange walking out to someone at the bus stop and they are looking at me… you find loads of coping strategies.

“Working in the TV world there’s a lot of emails, I haven’t read a lot of them, because I can’t do them.”

After leaving school, Blades worked in a number of jobs including in a frozen sausage factory, a bottle factory and a Christmas card factory, before retraining aged 29.

Jay Blades: Learning To Read At 51 is on BBC One on Wednesday January 26.