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13 Questions: actor Ryan Kelly

by Ivy Broadhead

It’s pretty easy to find examples of non-disabled actors playing disabled characters (often badly), but the reverse situation is considerably more difficult to come by.
Ryan Kelly
Blind actor Ryan Kelly is one person who has managed to escape pigeon-holing, with his role as fully sighted Jack ‘Jazzer’ McCreary in the long-running Radio 4 soap, The Archers.

Sometime car thief, drug user and womaniser, Jazzer has been shocking the inhabitants of Ambridge for nearly a decade. But as I found out, Ryan, 34, is not nearly as much of a hell-raiser in real life. He is quite happy at home in Nuneaton with his wife, daughter and dogs.

With the Archers’ 60th anniversary fast approaching, Ryan found time between bouts of Christmas shopping to answer 13 Questions.

My first job...

Was performing with the Old Vic after I finished studying drama there. It was a play called War Music in Battersea, which was staged in complete darkness, like being in a cave. It didn’t make much difference to me though, I was fine!

My guilty pleasure is...

Smoking. There’s not much point in feeling guilty about it though really. People will say "Oh, are you going for a sneaky cig?" and I think "No, I’m just having a cigarette actually."
Ryan Kelly

My weakness is...

Remembering appointments, shopping lists, that sort of thing. It is a bit inconvenient, but doesn’t bother me too much.

My strength is...

Being able to sit there and take things in.

I would ban...

Cruelty to anything or anyone that’s weaker than you. I think people who harm animals or children are just disgusting, they should be hanged for it.

I wish someone would invent...

A robot guide dog. As much as I love my guide dog, Hadley, it would be great to have something that you could talk to and it would talk back, and to be able to read road signs.

If I could live anywhere...

I would definitely stay in Britain. When I go abroad, I really miss English radio, and even English food. I don’t mind where I live really, as long as my wife Sonia is there with me, but I’m a small-town boy at heart.
Ryan Kelly on the farm

I couldn’t live without...

Audiobooks. I listen to all sorts, from Catherine Cookson to Stephen King. At the moment I’m reading an Alex Ryder audiobook. It’s for children, and it’s terribly hammy, but good escapist fun, which is what you need around the Christmas season.

The piece of advice I’d pass on is...

Not to lie - at least that’s what I’d tell my younger self if I could. Until I was about 20, I used to lie a lot about money, rip people off and then feel horribly guilty. Then I suddenly had a Damascus moment of realisation and decided to do something about it. Honesty and integrity are the most important things to me now.

My motto is...

Know thyself. Before you take the mickey out of someone else you have to be able to laugh at yourself. A lot of my mottos are biblical actually-I’m not particularly religious, I just think they apply to life. ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is another one I try to live by.

If I had one wish...

I’d wish for enough money to keep me and my family sorted for life, so they wouldn’t have to worry about it any more.

The best thing about my job is...

Being in The Archers. I’ve been a fan since I was about eleven, of course all sorts of people listen to the show but it has a big blind following. A lot of the other actors read their lines, lucky things! I have to get the script emailed to me so I can edit it down to my part and learn it by listening. It ends up being in computer speak though, like a robot, which can be quite funny. In the old days I had to have someone read it out to me, and once I learned completely the wrong part, which was very embarrassing.

In the future...

It’d be great to be doing more voiceovers and other radio parts, but I’d love to still be in The Archers. I’m living the dream. All I ever wanted in life was something to do, and someone to do it for, and at the moment I’ve got both.
• The Archers 60th anniversary special will be broadcast on the 2nd of January at 19.00. To find out more information about the show visit The Archers website.

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