Stroke battle left Andrew Marr ‘kinder and sweeter’

Andrew Marr has learned his days as a pugnacious, driven journalist must be left behind after his stroke.  Picture: PA
Andrew Marr has learned his days as a pugnacious, driven journalist must be left behind after his stroke. Picture: PA
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BROADCASTER Andrew Marr has promised to be “sweeter” to those around him when he goes back to work following the stroke he suffered earlier this year.

The 54-year-old, who will return as the host of the Andrew Marr Show in September, said being ill had forced him to re-assess his life and his relationships with others.

In a Sunday newspaper interview, the former BBC political editor, who started his career at The Scotsman, said he intends to “do less, better”, and would not repeat the 18-hour days he worked prior to his stroke.

He said he would dedicate more time to his Sunday talkshow, but was likely to cut back on work commitments elsewhere.

“I’m going back to the Sunday show in September and will see how it goes,” he said. “I’m going to put more time and effort into it, renew my lobby pass and return to my Westminster haunts.”

Asked if he had changed his attitude towards work, he said: “Not enough! I’ve always been a believer in getting your head down and getting on with it. My grandfather used to say, ‘Hard work never killed anyone’. Well, I suppose I’ve done my best to disprove his theory.”

Marr said he had “gobbled too much of life”, attempting to do too much, and worked too hard in the run-up to his stroke.

“I feel more alive again,” he said. “All this has made me, I hope, kinder and nicer. Over the years I’ve had lots of fights with lots of people but now I’m going to try reconciling myself to them. Life is too short for feuds and battles. I’ll aim to be sweeter all round.”

Marr, who fell ill in January, said he had initially ignored his symptoms after attempting to row five kilometres in 20 minutes – “a challenge for a professional oarsman, let alone a sedentary journalist”.

Initially ignoring his wife Jackie’s insistence he should go to hospital, Marr only realised he had suffered a stroke the following morning when he noticed a downward droop of his mouth in the bathroom mirror.

“Why me? I never asked that question,” he said. “No, I thought, Of course me! I’m exactly the kind of person who would have a stroke. I’ve had a life of overreaching.

“I’ve not been particularly nice to people around me, and have obsessed about my public profile. I haven’t spent enough time talking to my children.”

He added: “I was an impatient little bugger and often too abrasive. I’m just going to have to move more slowly now.”

Last week, Marr’s wife, a newspaper columnist, criticised the level of care available to people who have had a stroke once they leave hospital.

She said the intensive daily care in hospital was replaced by – at best – weekly appointments.

Marr spent two months in hospital, followed physio-therapy to help him walk.