Andrew Marr says he's lucky to be alive after stroke

Media caption,
Andrew Marr: "I'm frankly lucky to be alive"

Broadcaster Andrew Marr has appeared on television for the first time since suffering a major stroke, saying he feels "lucky to be alive".

Speaking on his own programme, BBC Two's Andrew Marr Show, he said he had been "heavily overworking" in the year before the stroke, which was sparked by an intensive rowing machine session.

The 53-year-old presenter, who fell ill in January, said he was doing "a lot of physio" to help with his walking.

He added he would be returning to work.

'Mostly my own fault'

Appearing in a pre-recorded interview on Sunday's programme, the journalist and television presenter took part in a discussion on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher before talking about his illness.

He told guest presenter Sophie Raworth: "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. I'd had two minor strokes it turned out, in that year, which I hadn't noticed."

Marr explained he had fallen into the "terrible" trap of believing what he read in newspapers, which encouraged people to "take very intensive exercise in short bursts - and that's the way to health".

He went on: "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.

"Beware rowing machines, or at least beware being too enthusiastic on rowing machines would be my message to the nation," he said.

Marr said the stroke had not impaired his voice or memory but had affected "the whole left hand side of my body, which is why I'm still not able to walk fluently".

"I do a kind of elegant hobble is the best I can manage - my left arm isn't much good yet and I've got a lot of physio still to do," he said.

'Coming back'

However, the presenter added that, after concentrating on a period of "intensive physio", he planned to return to work.

"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."

Born in Glasgow, Marr began his career in journalism on the Scotsman newspaper in 1981, later moving to London to become its political correspondent.

He was part of the team which launched the Independent in 1986, later becoming its editor.

He joined the BBC as political editor in May 2000.

Marr has also presented a number of history programmes along with his politics show and has had five books published.

He is married to journalist Jackie Ashley and has three children.

His programmes, the Andrew Marr Show and Radio 4's Start The Week, continue to be broadcast with guest presenters in his absence.

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