Ability by Lee Ridley – second listen

I just re-listened to this and I’m completely in two minds about it. Ability by Lee Ridley is a new radio sitcom, starring Lost Voice Guy Lee Ridley. While I was very taken by it the first time I heard it, now I’m not so sure. Of course, it’s great to hear a comedy which features a communication aid user so prominently, and to begin with I was very enthused with it. Apart from a few niggles with terminology – ‘carer’ instead of ‘personal assistant’ and so on – it sounded as if Ridley had just about hit the nail on the head. Here at last was a show about someone just like me, which could reveal to the country, or at least the part of it that listens to radio Four, what life is like for a person with cerebral palsy who uses a communication aid.

But then it all fell down: Ridley bit off more than he could chew, trying to write about things he clearly has no knowledge or experience of. Don’t get me wrong, I like where he was going. Yet in trying to turn his character into a drug dealer, helping his agency carer sell weed from his house, the narrative instantly started to sound naive. There is no way a weed dealer would trust a guy with his merchandise like that; such areas of life are far bleaker and more cut-throat than depicted by this show. To be honest, it sounded as if Ridley was trying to introduce subjects and themes he had no actual experience of, like a child trying to sound all grown up by writing about war, or politics. All the while he had the central character telling one-liners clearly ripped from his stand-up show, as if he thinks such subjects are something light and flippant. Thus, while the basic premise is a good one, I found it ultimately mishandled and very naive, and by the end it started to get on my nerves. It’s strange: what two months ago I took to be quite edgy and brave, today seemed naive and immature.

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