Woman gets voice back after scientists used Tipping Point appearance

Woman, 76, gets her voice back after scientists used her appearance on TV game show as a guide to how she speaks

  • Helen Whitelaw appeared on ITV’s Tipping Point in 2019, winning almost £3,000
  • Year later, she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, affecting her speech
  • But engineers have now used show footage to capture the sound of her voice 

A pensioner whose ability to talk was lost to illness has had her own voice reconstructed on computer – thanks to an earlier appearance on a TV gameshow.

Helen Whitelaw, 76, appeared on ITV’s Tipping Point in 2019, winning almost £3,000.

A year later, she was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, which makes speech slurred due to failing muscles in the tongue, lips, vocal cords and chest.

But engineers have now used her Tipping Point footage to capture the sound of her voice and build it into a computer aid that enables her to express herself more clearly.

A pensioner whose ability to talk was lost to illness has had her own voice reconstructed on computer – thanks to an earlier appearance on a TV gameshow. Helen Whitelaw, 76, appeared on ITV’s Tipping Point in 2019, winning almost £3,000

Mrs Whitelaw, from Glasgow, said she was ‘extremely grateful’ to have her voice back, adding: ‘The diagnosis was devastating. 

‘I wanted people to know what I was saying – and I did not want to sound like a machine. My frustration has vanished and I can have satisfactory conversations.’

Her daughter, Gillian Scott, told Tipping Point host Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain yesterday, that the family feared ‘all hope was lost’. 

But thanks to SpeakUnique, the Edinburgh firm that developed the voice, Miss Scott said it was ‘just the best’ to hear her mother’s voice again.

Alice Smith, of Speak Unique, said: ‘We were joking that she’d definitely be able to say, ‘Drop zone four’, as that was such a catchphrase during the show!’

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