I refused to let Tourette's syndrome stop me from becoming a TV presenter
‘People think we’re saying c**t, f**k, and s**t all the time,’ says Aidy Smith, presenter of Amazon Prime Video’s The Three Drinkers, one of the few TV hosts living with Tourette’s syndrome.
No-hold bars swearing is one of the greatest misconceptions many of us have of people with Tourette’s and could explain why you don’t find many Aidy Smiths on your television.
But the 29-year-old took matters into his own hands, and instead of waiting for the phone to ring, praying the right job would come along, he wrote his own story instead.
Described as a ‘21st century Top Gear about booze,’ The Three Drinkers sees Aidy joined by co-hosts Helena Nicklin and Colin Hampden-White taking a deep-dive, figuratively speaking, into the world of whiskey.
Together, the trio funded Three Drinkers, produced Three Drinkers, it’s been sold to 172 territories worldwide and they’re about to film their second series.
But you’d probably get lost trying to find a single viewer who picked up on Aidy’s tics. When the cameras start rolling, they take a back seat.
‘On camera, it completely disappears,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘We have a lot of excess energy that goes into those tics and when we’re doing something we really love, I like to call it our superpower, all of that excess energy is diverted away from the tics and goes into the thing we’re actually doing and we really focus.
‘So the minute I’m presenting a masterclass or a corporate talk or I’m on camera it absolutely disappears.’
While Aidy appears to be brimming with confidence now, growing up that wasn’t always the case.
‘I was diagnosed around about seven-years-old and at that time I developed a whooping noise,’ he recalls.
‘I remember having a pretty severe neck twitch where I threw my neck backward and that gave me severe pain, and then I developed a sniffing twitch as well.
I thought, no one’s ever going to accept me on TV, I’m never going to get anywhere with this
‘It slowly developed where it got to the point when I got the vocal tic and the neck tic. That’s when my parents realised there was something really up here.’
‘I thought, no one’s ever going to accept me on TV, I’m never going to get anywhere with this,’ he continued.
‘I was still part of an acting school, but I gave that up. When I was on stage it was fine because the Tourettes just disappears when you’re focusing on something, but when your back stage and you’re a kid and your hormones are all over and you’ve got mass anxiety because all the other kids are giving you grief – if you make a really loud noise the audience might hear and ruin the play.
‘There’s so much stress.’
These days, however, Aidy has learned to embrace his Tourette’s, using his platform to spread awareness – not just of Tourette’s, but the many mistruths about tics that are still widely accepted.
For anyone living with involuntary tics, it’s not just vital they know they’re not alone but they can still achieve anything they want to.
Aidy is exactly what he preaches; living proof that tics aren’t the be all and end all.
‘I had an epiphany over a year ago because of the TV series and the work I’ve been doing to build up my personality – I’ve got a platform,’ he enthuses.
‘I’ve come across loads of hurdles in life and for me I just make things happen.’
As for what’s next, Aidy’s not slowing down.
‘The next step is to produce more TV shows and also to be able to raise awareness of Tourettes, but to raise awareness of the accuracies of Tourettes for the 100 percent and not just the story for the media.’
The Three Drinkers Do Scotch Whisky is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. To hear more from Aidy, follow him on Instagram here.
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