The ‘Movers and Shakers’ podcast: “We all have such different perspectives”


Author: Sophie ParrottPublished: 22 June 2023

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Six high-flyers have come together to launch the 'Movers and Shakers' podcast.

A group of UK-based high-flyers – including comedy legend Paul Mayhew-Archer, journalist Mark Mardell and former news host Gillian Lacey-Solymar – have launched a podcast for the Parkinson’s community. In this article, three co-hosts discuss the aim behind ‘Movers and Shakers’ and how it came to be

If you’ve ever crossed paths with someone who has worked as a journalist or broadcaster, you may be aware that interviewing and asking (sometimes difficult) questions is a big part of the job.

This is something that Gillian Lacey-Solymar will know all too well from her time spent as a journalist and co-host of the BBC business and news show ‘Working Lunch’. But after years of asking the questions, she has now taken a seat on the other side of the microphone to discuss her experiences of living with Parkinson’s.

Diagnosed with the condition 11 years ago, Gillian – who has also worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and a lecturer at University College London, UK – describes her experience of receiving the news as “terrible”.

“My leg was trembling, and I had convinced myself that I had a trapped nerve,” she says. “The doctor did a scan on my brain and said: ‘I think you’ve got Parkinson’s’.”

More than a decade later, Gillian is one of six UK-based high-flyers – including Jeremy Paxman, Mark Mardell and Rory Cellan-Jones – who have come together to launch the ‘Movers and Shakers’ podcast.

First aired in March 2023, the audio series seeks to raise awareness of the condition – and boost fundraising efforts for the Parkinson’s community.

'Movers and Shakers' podcast.

The ‘Movers and Shakers’ podcast was first launched in March 2023. Image credit: Till Lukat.

“It meshes together quite nicely”

‘Movers and Shakers’ sees the group regularly convene to discuss the challenges – and the positives – of their Parkinson’s experiences. The episodes will cover a variety of topics, from Parkinson’s links with sex and shopping to diet, dating and new research.

Also joining Gillian, Jeremy, Mark and Rory as co-hosts are Sir Nicholas Mostyn, a High Court judge known for handling a string of high-profile divorces, and Paul Mayhew-Archer MBE, best known as the co-writer of the British sitcom ‘The Vicar of Dibley’.

Since his diagnosis in 2011, Paul has campaigned and fundraised for research into the condition. He also created the award-winning documentary ‘Parkinson’s: The Funny Side’, charting his own experience.

“From the moment I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I decided to try and find the funny side – and that kept my spirits up. I started to think of jokes [having] to do with Parkinson’s,” he says. “I adore performing, and it has led me to experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” Now, Paul tours up and down the country with his stand-up comedy show, ‘Incurable Optimists’.

Gillian says that Paul is a hilarious co-host and praises the humour he brings to the podcast. “Everyone has their own role to play,” she says. “Mark has very recently been diagnosed; I’ve had deep brain stimulation (DBS) surgery; Rory is the one who probably has the most interaction with doctors, and so on. We all have such different perspectives on things that it meshes together quite nicely.”

Sitting down to discuss their own experiences is a big part of the podcast offering – but the group also invites specialists and international experts to shed light on different aspects of the condition. “Recently, we have had some of the most fantastic guests on – including one of the greatest DBS surgeons in the world and a wonderful former surgeon who is an expert on different forms of exercise,” says Paul.

Published on a weekly basis, the episodes are recorded in a pub in Notting Hill in London – where the group can be seen squeezing around a narrow table to interact with one another. Laughing, Paul says: “It would be an awkward place for able-bodied people to go, even more so for people with Parkinson’s! Every time one of us needs to go to the toilet, we have to clamber over one another. It’s terribly funny.”

The six co-hosts of the 'Movers and Shakers' podcast.

“We all have such different perspectives on things,” Gillian explains. Image credit: Sally Jones.

A resource for the Parkinson’s community

The podcast may have only been on the scene for a couple of months now – but the co-hosts explain that ‘Movers and Shakers’ has already received fantastic feedback from the audience. “I think there are a lot of very lonely people out there who think nobody really understands Parkinson’s,” says Paul. “We’re saying: ‘We’re here, and it’s similar for us.’”

Gillian adds that they have received a host of letters, emails and comments from listeners. “It’s overwhelming that we have connected with so many people out there. I think they are grateful that we’re talking about the condition and perhaps that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

Looking to the future, Mark – who recently shared his story with Parkinson’s Life – says he hopes that the podcast will do “for listeners what it has done for me”.

“Hearing from my clever fellows delivers a jolt of recognition, that someone else has the same weird symptoms, the same strange thoughts and fears,” he says. “Parkinson’s is not a death sentence but rather life without any current prospect of parole – but it shouldn’t mean you’re locked in solitary. Join us and you won’t be alone.”

Need to know

‘Movers and Shakers’ is a weekly podcast created to help raise awareness of Parkinson’s and provide a resource to others in the community. Launched by a group of high-flyers living with the condition – Jeremy Paxman, Mark Mardell, Rory Cellan-Jones, Gillian Lacey-Solymar, Paul Mayhew-Archer and Sir Nicholas Mostyn – the podcast stimulates honest and open conversations about the challenges and positives of Parkinson’s.

Read more:

Mark Mardell: “I’ve always tried to be open and honest – it’s what makes me a journalist

Have you seen Jeremy Paxman’s new documentary about Parkinson’s disease?

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