How ITV's Tipping Point helped a woman get her voice back

The popular game show hosted by Ben Shephard has given a lady a new lease of life

ITV's Tipping Point, Tipping Point host Ben Shephard
(Image credit: ITV Pictures)

ITV's Tipping Point gameshow has helped a woman regain her voice in the most unlikely way.

Scientists have successfully reunited pensioner Helen Whitelaw, 76, with her own voice after she lost the ability to speak when she fell ill with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Helen, who was a 2019 contestant answered general knowledge questions to win counters to play the large coin pusher machine and won £3,000. But just a year later she was diagnosed with MND which caused her speech to be slurred, as a result of failing muscles in the tongue, lips, vocal cords, and chest.

As a result of the rapid illness, her voice was almost gone and she was unable to make recordings of her own voice for a computer aid which would later help her communicate with others. But thanks to her quick-thinking husband Charles, who remembered she had been on TV, engineers were able to use footage from her Tipping Point TV appearance to capture the sound of her voice and build it into the machine. 

Mrs. Whitelaw, from Glasgow, is now able to express herself more clearly. She told viewers she was 'extremely grateful' to have her voice back, and added, "The diagnosis was devastating. I wanted people to know what I was saying – and I did not want to sound like a machine."

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ITV's Tipping Point, Tipping point coin drop slot machine ITV

(Image credit: ITV Pictures)

She continued, "I have to thank my husband Charlie for suggesting this. My frustration has vanished and I can have satisfactory conversations." 

Mrs. Whitelaw and her daughter, Gillian Scott, reunited with ITV's Tipping Point host Ben Shephard on Good Morning Britain and Gillian told him the family feared 'all hope was lost'. 

'You lose so much with MND to think she can still have that voice, it's something that identifies you and we can recognise her when we are having Facetimes or things like that so it's fabulous.'

Alice Smith of SpeakUnique, the Edinburgh firm that developed the voice, revealed that there are even a few catchphrases from the show like 'Drop zone four' and 'Come to mama' which Mrs. Whitelaw can also use to remind her of her speech saving appearance.

Where is ITV's Tipping Point filmed?

The game show is filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol. 

Host Ben Shephard previously teased fans with his phone camera in selfie mode as he gave a sneak peek at shows already filmed, including a double jackpot as well as a "double, double drop that has never happened before." After adding that the latter "threw everyone in a spin," 

But what might be most surprising about the show is the number of episodes that are filmed at once. Ben captioned a video, "Ahhh my home from home for the next 4 months -175 eps to film, hundreds of contestants to meet thousands of pounds to be won!'

" @TippingPointITV#LuckyStars starts on Sunday + brand new series of @TippingPointITV April 12th @ITV 4pm!! Bags of tipping point for you you lucky lot!"

Selina Maycock
Selina Maycock

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for GoodtoKnow, Woman&Home and My Imperfect Life.

Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. Having spent the start of her career working on local newspapers and online, Selina spent six years as Acting News Editor and Entertainment Reporter at the Scunthorpe Telegraph where she dug into hard news stories, conducted interviews, covered court reporting, features, and entertainment, whilst going to gigs in her spare time.

Whilst at the paper she was awarded an O2 Media Judges' Special Award for helping a terminally ill cancer sufferer realise his dying wish and marry his childhood sweetheart through a successful newspaper campaign. Things like this are close to her heart when it comes to using journalism to make a positive difference in people's lives.

Selina later branched further into all things celebrity to became a Showbiz Writer at Heat magazine, covering red carpet events, showbiz parties, and various launches before going freelance for two years. One of her biggest celebrity achievements - aside from generating celebrity exclusives - was interviewing Take That (including Robbie Williams) and bumping into Simon Cowell so much at events she told him 'I'm calling you my showbiz dad!'

In 2017 she joined TI Media as a senior reporter on Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, Woman's Weekly celebrity desk before branching online in 2020 when Future gave her the opportunity to focus on digital-first.

When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.