Chris Tarrant on suffering stroke: ‘I tried to call my wife because I thought I was going to die'

The Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host gives first interview since his health scare left him unable to fully regain his movement or speech

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The Independent Online

The first thing Chris Tarrant did when he realised he was suffering from a stroke was to call his wife Jane Bird and tell her he loved her, because he thought he was going to die.

The former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? host has been unable to fully regain his movement or speech since suffering from the condition on a flight from Bangkok to London in March.

But the 67-year-old did manage to recall the frightening ordeal in an interview with The Sun on Sunday.

Describing it as the "most terrifying moment" of his life, Tarrant said he feels "incredibly lucky" to be alive.

"I got very panicky. I was very alone up there, thinking, 'I could die'," he said.

"I wasn't sure if I was going to fade away completely on my own. I am incredibly lucky to be alive because one in three people who have strokes don't make it.

"It has made me appreciate my life so much more."


He went on to explain that, although he isn’t back to full health, he has been undergoing physiotherapy and has made several changes to his lifestyle in order to minimise the risk of it happening again.

The presenter was returning to London from filming a fishing show in Burma when he fell ill on a connecting plane.

He was rushed from Heathrow Airport to Charing Cross Hospital in West London, where doctors initially suspected he was suffering from a bad asthma attack.

After further investigation, they discovered a blood clot in his leg, and performed emergency surgery to destroy it before it dislodged and caused a full-scale stroke.

"The doctor describes it as a mini stroke, probably brought on by the asthma and bronchitis on the plane," Tarrant’s manager, Paul Vaughan, said.

"They found a clot which they managed to break up.

"It was a clot in the leg and that can immediately go to the brain or lungs."

"He is determined to leave hospital. But he’s not going back to work," he added at the time. "This is a nasty wake-up call."

Tarrant left his famed role as quiz host on the long-running TV show in February.