'I'm lucky to be alive' says Marr in first television appearance since suffering stroke


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The Independent Online

Andrew Marr has said he feels “lucky to be alive” following a major stroke brought on by an intense exercise session on a rowing machine.

The BBC presenter made his first television appearance since suffering a stroke in January. He told viewers of his Sunday morning current affairs show that his left arm “isn’t much good yet” but his voice and memory were unaffected.

The 53-year-old blamed a combination of rigorous physical activity and overworking for his health scare.

“I had a major stroke, I’m frankly lucky to be alive. I had been heavily overworking – mostly my own fault – in the year before that,” he said.

“I’d had two minor strokes, it turned out, in that year – which I hadn’t noticed – and then I did the terrible thing of believing what I read in the newspapers, because the newspapers were saying what we must all do is take very intensive exercise, in short bursts, and that’s the way to health.

“Well I went onto a rowing machine and gave it everything I had, and had a strange feeling afterwards – a blinding headache, and flashes of light – served out the family meal, went to bed, woke up the next morning lying on the floor unable to move.

“And what I’d done, I’d torn the carotid artery, which takes blood into the brain, and had a stroke overnight - which basically wipes out a bit of your brain.”

The stroke impaired the left hand side of his body, leaving him unable to “walk fluently”. Instead, he said, he had mastered “a kind of elegant hobble”.

While Mr Marr pre-recorded interviews with Margaret Thatcher’s former Transport Secretary Lord Parkinson and the Labour peer Baroness Kennedy for today’s show, the live segments continue to be hosted by guest presenters. Standing in today was newsreader Sophie Raworth.

But the veteran presenter told her he was going to be “taking your chair” when he recovers, saying he was undergoing sessions of intensive physiotherapy to help him convalesce.

“I’m now in the period where if I really concentrate on the physio, I will get better, and if I don’t, I won’t. Which is why I'm not back trying to do the job full-time, I have to say.

“I’m going to be taking your chair I’m absolutely sure, when I’m ready. I’m certainly coming back. I’ve got a lot more to say about it all, but I’m going to wait until I've gone through the physio to do so.”