Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51: who is The Repair Shop presenter - dyslexia battle, partner and children

Jay Blades learned he was dyslexic at the age of 31, and now works with charity Read Easy UK

Jay Blades, holding out cards with the letters a b c on them (Credit: BBC / Hungry Bear / Ben Gregory-Ring)
Jay Blades, holding out cards with the letters a b c on them (Credit: BBC / Hungry Bear / Ben Gregory-Ring)
Jay Blades, holding out cards with the letters a b c on them (Credit: BBC / Hungry Bear / Ben Gregory-Ring)

Jay Blades, host of The Repair Shop, has made a documentary about his efforts to improve his literacy.

The documentary, called Learning to Read at 51, sees Blades using techniques that are used within prisons to help inmates with their reading and writing. Blades is dyslexic, but was not diagnosed at school.

Here’s everything you need to know about Learning to Read at 51.

Who is Jay Blades?

Jay Blades is a furniture restorer and television presenter. He hosts The Repair Shop on BBC One, and he’s also appeared on a number of other programmes like Richard Osman’s House of Games and the recent Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special.

In December, Blades announced that he had got married to Lisa-Marie Zbozen. Blades designed the ring, which was made by one of his Repair Shop colleagues, goldsmith Richard Talman.

Blades has three children from previous relationships.

What is Learning to Read at 51 about?

Blades learned he was dyslexic at university, where he enrolled as a mature student at 31. He was told he had the reading age of an 11 year old.

In August 2021, Blades began to work with the charity Read Easy UK, who work to improve adult literacy in prisons. The documentary shows how working on his literacy fit around his various filming commitments as well.

One of his aims as part of the documentary is to try and read a book to his daughter (he explains that he would previously pretend to read and make up a different story).

The documentary Learning to Read at 51 charts Blades’ efforts, and offers some advice for any viewers who may be interested in working on their own reading comprehension.

How is Jay Blades learning to read and who are Read Easy UK?

Jay Blades is learning to read with techniques that were developed to teach prison literacy, working in particular on a phonics programme. He’s also supported by a Read Easy Reading Coach.

In the documentary, Blades advises contacting your local library or an Adult Education group for advice on the best way to learn in your local area.

Ready Easy UK are the adult literacy charity who worked with Blades on the documentary. Their website explains that 2.4 million adults in England alone cannot read at all or can barely read.

What time is Learning to Read at 51 on and how can I watch it?

Learning to Read at 51 will air on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 26 January.

It will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer immediately afterwards.

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