An aspiring TV star with autism and dyslexia says he is living out his dream thanks to a free television training course that has changed his life.

Alex Gaffney always dreamt of appearing on TV, but due to his learning difficulties and lack of confidence thought he didn’t stand a chance.

In June this year the 26-year-old was introduced to Ticbox – Television Industry Courses For All – run by the region’s biggest casting agent NE1 4.TV.

Fast-forward two months and Alex has appeared on one of ITV’s most popular shows, Vera, and has appeared in a pilot for new Netflix TV drama Two Wolves, with dreams of going on to stardom.

“I was very nervous but excited about Ticbox – I really wanted to do it,” said Alex, who did an intensive week-long course at Sunderland College.

“Once I got there I felt comfortable, I listened to everything they taught me and within a few minutes of being there I thought: ‘I could do this!’.

“I learned about what was important about being a supporting artist including being on time, not wearing any logos, as well as audition techniques.”

After gaining his Ticbox Television Accreditation, Alex was selected to be a supporting artiste on the set of Vera and will appear on our screens for series 9 in 2019.

Alex, from Gateshead, added: “It was a great surprise that I got TV so quickly after doing the Ticbox course. I was background on Vera and had to react to another person in a café, that was my scene.

“When I went on set everything I learned on the course clicked. I saw other people who I had met on Ticbox too and that helped.”

Alex, who was introduced to Ticbox by his support worker Lisa Stephenson from Gateshead Access to Employment Service, says he has proven that disability doesn’t have to be an obstacle to fulfilling your dreams.

He added: “The course has changed my life, for me it has already opened doors and I am excited – I won’t give up I am on the right path now.

“I would say to anyone with a disability, don’t let it hold you back. If you want to be on TV – give it a shot, you only live once! You have to make the most of life and not give up.

“I got out of my comfort zone doing this, and it paid off!”

And the inspiring young man has even created an online vlog sharing tips he learned on the Ticbox course and talking through his preparation for his day on the set of Vera.

Bessie Williams, creator of the Ticbox courses and owner of NE1 4.TV says this is exactly why she wanted to run the courses – to ensure the TV industry is accessible to all.

She said: “When Alex came on the course we could see straight away that he was more than capable of working on TV sets and doing any job.

“He has shown that there are no barriers to being creative and the Ticbox courses are tailored to a creative brain.

“Ticbox has not only given Alex the confidence to realise his dream to appear on TV, but he also wants to follow his passion in music and is now looking for help to create a music video.

“I am so happy for Alex, we will certainly be putting him forward for other TV shows and I have no doubt he will be a huge success.”

The Ticbox courses are part of an ongoing campaign from NE1 4.TV to bring more TV production companies and channels to the North East.

To find out more about NE14.TV and their Ticbox courses, head to NE14.TV.com. You can find them on social media at @NE14.TV.

To see a promo video of the Ticbox courses please go to: https://vimeo.com/193599325 or https://vimeo.com/204893877 for the 1minute version or www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5NSS5J340A

To see Alex’s vlog go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34S2WwM1bYI