Old tapes may give journalist his voice `back'

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The Independent Online
THE BROADCASTER and journalist John Diamond may regain the voice he lost to cancer, through a new system that computerises faces and then moves them so they "speak".

Mr Diamond, whose speech has become severely limited by cancer of the tongue and throat, is intrigued by the promises held out by the system, which is being developed at British Telecom's research laboratories in Martlesham Heath near Ipswich.

BT has already produced a closely scanned image of Mr Diamond's face. The next step is to develop it so that the movement of the face and jaw will match spoken words. The development offers hope to the one-time radio journalist and author of C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too, who now communicates largely in writing after most of his tongue was removed in an effort to beat the spread of the cancer.

"There's talk of BT building me a voice from my old broadcasting tapes," he noted yesterday. "That will be weird - especially as my youngest child [who is three] has never heard my `proper' voice.

"When bits of your body start going wrong, you lose your sense of self: this, I hope, might help to get that back," he said.

Equally, the research may provide a lasting testament to Mr Diamond. Earlier this year he was told that his cancer is terminal.