Dream comes true for blind and partially deaf Ipswich man who appears on BBC game show
PUBLISHED: 19:28 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 09:22 01 October 2019
An Ipswich man, who has become the first blind and partially deaf contestant on a BBC game show, says his experience has helped him overcome his feelings of isolation.
Ricky Blair, 29, has fulfilled his "life-long dream" by appearing on this week's Impossible game show on BBC One, which is hosted by Rick Edwards and sees contestants trying to avoid giving 'impossible' answers in hope of winning £10,000.
Ricky, originally from Hornchurch in Essex, was born completely blind and developed a hearing impairment in his teens, which has affected his childhood and his adult years significantly - meaning he has struggled to interact with others especially during his time at university.
He said: "I was completely isolated at university and suffered from severe depression.
"I didn't have any friends and I would spend days in my room without speaking to anyone. I became suicidal and depressed."
The game-show lover was born with Norrie disease, which is an inherited eye disorder that is very rare and leads to blindness in male infants either at birth or soon after.
Ricky says he "never thought it would be possible" to appear on a big game show because of his illness, but says he has always wanted to "make the most of life" and kept his fingers crossed that it would happen.
He said: "I was invited up to Glasgow to record the show and it was incredible to be in such a cohesive environment which really accepted me.
"I've made friends for life and couldn't have asked for a better experience."
"TV is really increasing its diversity. The producers even made the buzzers make a noise and put bumps on them so that I could feel the different buzzers to choose my answers for each question."
The BBC also paid for two support workers to take Ricky up to Scotland and accompany him, as he is unable to go out alone without support.
Despite not making it through to the final, the producers were very impressed with Ricky's lock-in times during the rounds.
"The show was amazing," continued Ricky, who lives in Ipswich with his parents. "Rick Edwards was great fun he made me feel very welcome. People often overlook how well he does, but he is genuinely a really nice chap."
You can see Ricky on the Impossible programme on BBC One at 2.15pm from Monday, September 30 to Friday, October 4.