Mark Mardell on his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis: “I do expect it to get worse”

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Author: Scarlett SherriffPublished: 13 October 2022

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Mark Mardell in the studio wearing headphones

UK journalist and presenter Mark Mardell has spoken out about his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis, receiving a positive response from colleagues and the community beyond

Former BBC editor Mark Mardell has received supportive comments from colleagues and members of the Parkinson’s community since sharing that he has been diagnosed with the condition.

The journalist and presenter spoke about his diagnosis on an episode of UK broadcaster Roger Bolton’s podcast, ‘Beeb Watch’. “I’m feeling fine and dandy, but I have to share with you that I have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease,” said Mardell, “which means my voice is rather strange and weak… I’ve lost a bit of my boom. And I’m getting used to being the quietest person in the room rather than the loudest.”

Bolton, who also spoke with Mardell about recent cuts to the BBC World Service and asked whether the former editor is nurturing young talent, replied: “Your voice may be weaker, but your brain certainly isn’t.”

“It’s irritating and a nuisance rather than a nightmare at the moment”

The former presenter explained that he first noticed symptoms whilst shopping at the UK supermarket, Waitrose, earlier this year. “I started thinking at the beginning of this year Waitrose are making their packaging really hard to get into these days – what’s this about?” he said. “And then I found my arms suddenly lifting above my head for no particular reason, or at least staying there.”

Mardell explained that it was at dinner with a physiotherapist friend that he was encouraged to visit his doctor.

Last week, Mardell joined BBC Radio 4’s flagship programme, ‘Today’, alongside Rory Cellan-Jones, a former BBC technology editor who lives with Parkinson’s himself, and who often discusses the condition in his healthtech-focused newsletter, ‘Always On’.

Reflecting on life with the condition to date, Mardell said: “It’s irritating and a nuisance rather than a nightmare at the moment… It’ll take me twice as long to cook the tea. It’ll take me twice as long to get dressed. It’ll take me too long to get out of the car… I do expect it to get worse, but I’m rather burying my head in the sand.”

“Burying your head in the sand is one way of putting it; a more positive way of putting it is just getting on with life,” replied ‘Today’ presenter, Justin Webb.

Across social media, friends, colleagues and members of Parkinson’s community have shared their support for Mardell.

BBC journalist and presenter, Jane Hill, gave tribute to her “excellent” former colleague:

TV and radio journalist, Kate Dixon, commended Mardell’s upbeat attitude:

Jane Jackson, a member of Parkinson’s community, thanked him for his honesty:

Read more:

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