andrew-marr

Andrew Marr reveals his stroke has changed marriage for the better

Gemma Strong

Andrew Marr has spoken candidly about life after a stroke. The BBC presenter opened up the physical difficulties he now faces as a result of his condition – from tying his own shoelaces to cutting up a steak - but said that his marriage to fellow journalist Jackie Ashley has actually strengthened as a result of it. "It's probably made it better and warmer, actually," he told the Radio Times. "I was very lucky with Jackie because she had grown up from when she was a young girl with a father who was deaf. You might think she had had the worst luck of all, having looked after her father, and then this happens to me. But she has been very good about shepherding me through the process."

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Andrw Marr has said his marriage to Jackie Ashley is "better" following his stroke

Andrew, 57, suffered a stroke in January 2013, and was in hospital for two months. He returned to presenting The Andrew Marr Show in September of that year. He admitted that he tries to conceal the effect of his stroke from his viewers when he records the political programme. "You don't want people to think, 'Ooh, how is his left hand doing?' You want them to be thinking about the questions I am asking and, more importantly, the answers I am or am not getting," he said.

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Interviewing Theresa May on The Andrew Marr Show

Andrew's stroke was almost certainly brought on by him overdoing things – the night before he tried to row 5km in 20 minutes on his rowing machine. Initially his family were told it was unlikely he would survive, and were then informed that he would be unable to speak and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The star said he was initially in denial about how "disabled" he was – but reality gradually sank in, "I was never suicidal. I was upset," he said. "What I have to emphasise is: it’s not the great big existential questions; it's that yet again it takes 35 minutes to get dressed; yet again you drop the toast on the floor; yet again you find you can't walk from A to B properly. It's the small things that accumulate and make life a bit [harder] than it otherwise would be."

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Since then, he has made big changes, including moving from his "very large" house in south west London to a smaller one in Primrose Hill, so he can walk to Broadcasting House. He can't do up his top button or shoelaces, and has to wear drawstring trainers, nor can he swim, ski or cycle. And he says cooking is "frankly dangerous as well as difficult, chopping things one handed with a sharp knife"; in restaurants he has to have food like steak or pheasant cut up for him.

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Andrew's documentary, My Brain and Me, aired on BBC Two on Tuesday

On Tuesday, viewers got a fascinating insight into Andrew's world, thanks to his new documentary, My Brain and Me, which sees the TV presenter travel to the US to try out a new anti-inflammatory drug. He said he had made the programme because he felt an obligation to share his "positive" experiences with others. "I don't really like talking about these things, or certainly being filmed," he said. "I didn't enjoy watching the film. But when you are in public life, and something bad but very common happens to you – 1.4 million people are surviving strokes at the moment – then you have a kind of obligation to share your experience, particularly if it's positive, and is going to encourage other people."

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