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tv   I Cant Say My Name  BBC News  December 28, 2021 1:30pm-2:01pm GMT

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now on bbc news, producer felicity baker, who has a stammer, reveals what it is like to live with the condition. 0k. i've worked for bbc news for ten years as a producer, always behind the scenes, finding guests, setting up stories. i wondered if you had someone that might be available for an interview? but recently, during a chance conversation with the presenter sophie raworth, i revealed my secret. i have a stammer. hello. i'm calling from the bbc. i've spent my whole life trying to hide it. now, i'm discovering that i'm not alone, and i'm not the only one who struggles to say my name. and i know you can say your name. will you say it? ican. ijust have to breathe. crowd jeers there's the rugby player
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who says his violence on the pitch was driven by his stammer. the self—loathing. i hated myself. i hated myself because i wasn't like other people. #pray, i guarantee you heard this song _ #you gon' remember the name... the young man who was bullied at school, but found an escape in music... i'm going to rap cos i can't talk. ijust think...little do you know. - ..the art student who refuses to be underestimated... oh, i'm not dumb! trust me. ijust can't say it. because people can, like, interrupt you without you not even knowing. ..the parents watching their son grow up with a stammer... it's heart—breaking. yeah. i mean, many a tears. oh, come on! sorry.
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i'm sorry. ..the film star whose father stammered... ah... i would bring friends home from school who didn't know that my father stammered, and i got a bit embarrassed about that. ..the president who stammers and knows just how it feels. it drags you down in that empty hole in your chest. that feeling of panic you get and then anger. stammering is something i think about every single day, but no—one ever talks about it. so, now i'm stepping out in front of the camera to put stammering in the spotlight. # i said biggy is the name. # killing all the game. # k—killing all the... # i said biggy is the name... #yeah!# hi! i'm shelby, i'm 11 years old, and i have a stammer. shelby started stammering when he was two and a half. what is it you wanted? stammering: can. . . ..i...have... -
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he stammers. one chocolate! both he and his brother stammer. it's not been easy, particularly at school. some people can be a tiny bit naive and not know, like... um, like, what, like, is wrong. and, like, they don't know that i have a stammer. this... yeah? around a million children in the uk will stammer at some point. stammering: - for - daddy. most will go on to talk fluently. having two sons who stammer is not easy. to see them struggling, definitely, it wrenches your heart. it's painful, very painful. i remember that when they were younger, having two together, often the headache, you know? just having... having that in your everyday life is really hard to just step back and be calm and be patient, and not try and step
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in and stop them. that's probably the hardest thing. it's something that - as a parent you want to fix. you can see your child's having difficulty speaking, _ so you really want to help them and fix the problem. _ sometimes, i—it... sometimes it can make me feel tired because of, um... if, like, you keep on... it's quite hard to, like, keep on speaking when if you speak and then you, like, stammer, so you have to say it again. it's, like, double what you're trying to say. grace cronshaw is 19, an art student in london. like shelby, she has always struggled with her speech. she says people have no idea how much of an effort it can be. ijust think, "little do you know". often it's people's reactions that bother her most. stammering: with a stammer you, like, have to avoid, _
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um, a lot of words. stammering: the... um, uh... _ the — the... the words i could say were, like, very simple words, so then people would just think, "oh, no, she's kind of dumb or likejust kind of dim." and i was like, "i'm not dumb! trust me ijust can't say it." i mean, like, i'm definitely worried about going into a job interview and just kind of making... i mean, making a fool of myself, butjust not being able to, like, answer any of the questions that they, like, give me, like, that's one of my fears in life i get so anxious if i'm put in a situation where i feel like someone's going to say to me, "what's your name?" or you have to make a phone call and, say, introduce yourself. whenever i meet someone new, i... i will eitherjust like say, "hey, hey..." stammering: �*mmm. . . my name's grace." - just like there, just to make sure that, like, i don't have to have
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that, like... that, like, moment of them being, like... being, like, "what's your name?" and me just being like, "it's..." ugh. andjust, like, not being... like, not being able to say it. i know just how she feels. looking for the best... this was me ten years ago. could you tell me . your name, please? felicity... she stammers ..baker. um, i work for the bbc at the moment. ok, so, what brought you here, then? - around 1.5 million adults stammer in the uk, and i'm one of them. i've been struggling a bit on the telephone. you also have to use your tannoy, occasionally. being a woman who stammers is unusual. men are up to four times more likely to be affected. until now, i've never wanted to talk about it to anyone. i'm fine! but sophie's genuine interest when she asked me about it recently... it's a complete role reversal. this is great. ..persuaded me to open up. i'm going to interview you. how are you feeling about doing this?
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i'm feeling very nervous. it's very weird, actually, being in the — normally, i'm standing behind the camera, and i'm out of it. i worked with you last year for pretty much a full year doing documentaries. we travelled, we filmed, we spoke on the phone, a lot. i never knew. i know. i'm very good at hiding it, and i've been hiding it, honestly, for as long as i can remember, for as long as i can speak, i think. i learnt very quickly. i think a lot of people do. and i want to appear fluent. and i've spent so long kind of trying to appear fluent, that i... ijust avoid words and situations, and... i'm trying to think of the best way to describe it. and ifeel like quite a good thing is the image of a swan across the lake. and you kind of — i know i appear like i'm not... i'm not stammering now, but underneath the surface is kind of this mad pedalling. you know, i'm thinking, as i'm speaking to you, i'm thinking, you know, how i'm going to avoid diff... difficult words, difficult sounds. i know the sounds that i find hard to say. and so i don't tend to use them in my vocabulary. i've learnt over the
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years not to use them. i'm constantly thinking ahead as to how i'm going to get through it without st... ..without stammering. what kind...? what do you find difficult to say? so, i do find my name... my name is quite a difficult sound. ifind hard letters, so... let's begin with b. my surname is quite a hard word for me to say because it's just a very... it's a very hard... it's a very hard sound. you know, you kind of have to go straight in with that word. and if someone says to me, "what's your name?" that's where i, you know... if the pressure's put on me to say it, that's when i find it really hard to... to get the words out. but i can, yeah. i mean, with a lot of breathing techniques...| have learnt to say it, but i'd rather not, and i do try and avoid it. that is extraordinary. to go through life... your name is felicity baker, but it's quite something to go through life not being able to say your own name. it's hard because everyone else says their name with such ease and you kind of feel
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like you should be able to. and that's something that i do find quite difficult cos it's your identity, and you feel like you should be able to own that. commentator: he's under the scottish posts. - but wales, once more, going for the try. - markjones is a former welsh rugby international. but it's a try for markjones in his first international... he gained 15 caps for his country in rugby union and played rugby league for great britain. he was known as one of rugby's hard men. it's a headbutt. it's a real bad one. my reputation was... ..of... ..ofa bad man, really, i think. some would say that i was a dirty player. crowd jeers it's only now, decades later, that he feels ready to open up about the huge impact his stammer had on his behaviour. crowd jeers the style of play i had... ..was driven... ..from the stammer.
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i'v e. i've hit a couple of people, done this and that, but it was... none of it was ever... ..targeted. shouting it was just that release. at home in wales, it's been... i've been looked at as a bit of a clown, yeah? but the stammer. .. . . influences your. . .your behaviour. it... it makes you into a bit of an outcast your own head, and it's always like... it's as if your heads in a fish tank. commentator: out there, phil pugh. - anger was a big thing, yeah. the frustration, you'd be laughed at.
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i hated myself because i wasn't like other people. i've only ever spoken about it with my wife. no—one else. why did you want to hide it? the embarrassment you feel... well, it'�*s a constant fight. it's as if you're not normal. you look back, you know, history, literature, it's the stuttering fool. caaaa. .. plenty of time. caaaaa. . .. caaaaa. .. the caaa.... oh, come on! sorry. i'm sorry. um... the actor sir michael palin plays the stammering ken pile in the 1980s hit film a fish called wanda. he knewjust what it was like. his father, ted,
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stammered all his life. cathcart towers hotel? cathcart towers hotel. john cleese, who wrote the film, approached me and said he was writing a heist movie in which one of the main characters has a stammer and can't, at the vital moment, give the information, which i thought was a very funny idea, not in a way of mocking anyone or anything like that. itjust is a situation that might occur. and john was very... john knew that my father stammered. he said, "i mean, can we talk about it? and how would the stammer manifest itself?" so we talked through all the various aspects of the stammer. and in the end, i said, "well, i'll do it." i wouldn't have done it when my father was alive i don't think i could have done, really. but i'll do it because, you know, it's sort of... i can be more sympathetic, perhaps. and how difficult do you think it was for him to cope with? i never spoke about it with him. this was really... you know, i can see now,
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a major, major sort of problem to our understanding of it, because i think, you know, there was no... one felt there was nothing you could do. so, how would we talk about it? and at what stage do you suddenly say, "is there anything we can do to stop your stammer?" or, "how did you first get a stammer?" i'd love to have asked all these questions, but we just didn't because it would feel like rubbing in, you know, rubbing it all in, making him even more aware of it. and so there was a sort of unspoken feeling that we just accepted it in the family. and we did, really, around the table and all that. um... and to sort of single it out and sit and talk about it as if it were a disability would be..would be sort of, as i say, sort of underlining something he didn't want to be underlined. it was only after his father's death that he understood the importance of being open about stammering. he agreed to put his name to the michael palin centre for stammering in london
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to help raise awareness of this hidden disability. it hasn't got one single cause that one single intervention is going to cure. what we know now is that stammering is a neurological condition. we know that there are differences, neurological differences, things in the brain that are different in people who stammer. and we know now from the research that that's... we can see that in children, so it's notjust because they've been stammering for years, but they are different from the... ..from the beginning. i stop talking. idecide..? the centre runs courses for children and adults to help them learn to cope with their speech. so, parents are really worried about saying, "oh, you know, i can see that that was hard for you to say, wasn't it?" they're really worried about drawing their child's attention to it. but we have a problem that can start because of that, that it becomes something that nobody talks about,
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so it becomes a taboo. and we have teenagers who come to the centre and say, "i've never spoken to my parents about my stammer because they didn't mention it and neither did i." and that becomes a whole big thing around, "well, i've got this big secret," and it's the shame thing can build into that, too, if we're not careful. so, primary message, it's ok to acknowledge it. you can call it a stammer. it's not going to cause a problem for the child if you start talking about it. it's a word i really struggle to say, so we're going to be solving linear... pupils: ..equations. abed ahmed was told his stammer meant teaching wasn't for him. now, head of maths at a school in birmingham, he uses his experience to help others. what i focus mainly on is confidence first. that's the most important thing. the most important thing is not trying to speak fluently.
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i think we measure success by being fluent in so manyjobs. unfortunately, for people like me and 1% of the world, that can't be. ..done. so, i teach some techniques that i've learnt in my life, so things like breathing techniques, just to calm and relax them a bit more so, i tackle a lot of things with humour as well, and i tell the kids as well, you know, try and tackle something with humour, because itjust removes that tension. so, ijust tell people who ask me my name, "sorry, i do have a stammer and it might take me a very long time, but in some part of this conversation, i will tell you my name, erm, stay with me" and they're like, "it's fine, man." i'mjust like, "yeah, it's fine, too." # yeah, i told my brother on the chat now # you ain't gotta be no g to be rap now # you can make p off the beats and stack wild...# he's called big heath. he's a rapperfrom cambridge. # i don't need no gat to rhyme # time for you to come alive...# his grandfather stammered, his father does, too.
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when i was in primary school, it wasn't as bad in primary school, ithink, cos, like, you're too young for kids to really pick on you that bad in primary school. it was always a thing, there was always... our mates were like, "heath's got a stutter, that's just heath." people laugh, stuff like that. but it is what it is back then. but i think when i went to, like, secondary school, it was dreadful, actually dreadful. like, i was overweight and that, and when i think back to it, being picked on for being overweight was bad, but the stutter was way worse, because my weight i can do something about. my stutter is... i can't do anything about that. so, i think that... i always got a lot more... erm... not upset about it, but was a lot more, like... it hurt me more cos it was like, i can't do anything about my stutter. # like my mind was a prison, i was stuck in a tower # you see, bullies used to laugh # every time i used to speak # i used to s—s—stutter, man it made me feel so weak # it's funny now cos when they see me # up in the streets # they be like, yo, big heath, yo, what's happenin�*, my g?# his real name
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is chris, but, like me, saying his name isn't easy. i'd rather say heath than my christian name. cos heath is easy to say. "heath," i canjust say. heath, heath, heath. when "christopher," i can say it now, but it always used be so much harder to say, so much harder. he started listening to rap music at school and was amazed to find that when he rapped, he never stammered. # i didn't choose rap, bro # understand the game chose me # and that's the realest thing...# my brother picked me up from my speech therapist. he was playing, like, kanye west when i was really young, and i remember him looking at me. i'd probably over and over heard the same song, i started to rap it, and he looked to me and he was like, "you can do it," and i think subconsciously ijust fell in love with it, and i was able to, like, say what i wanted to say. obviously, i wouldn't go into a class and rap what i wanted to say, but the same way you rap, you take your breath control, you pause, the way you flow on a beat is the same way i overcome a stutter, like take little breaths, then speak. and it's the same sort of... but as i say, i don't think it was on purpose. i think ijust subconsciously
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fell in love with the fact that i could say what i wanted to say without it happening, and it was just... i love it. # ..the rapping's automatic # ain't no lacking or distractions # till my album's wrapped in plastic...# so, when i stutter, i do hand movements like i would if i'm holding a mic. so, it's like... i've actually never thought about that! i do, when i stutter sometimes, itap, and i do, like, little... as if i'm rapping, as if it's like... when my girlfriend's at home sometimes, i stutter, she'll see me, like, not, like, making movements, but i might, like, my whole body stutters, and then i finally get out the word. i think sometimes you sort ofjam up your whole brain. if i'm having that, ijust, i hit my leg really hard. yeah! what you're tapping is continuing the sentence which your mouth can't, so you're like, "go on, go on." and then you finally do it. # if i was born 1,000 years ago, i'd be a king # i'd be the greatest for my people though named bling # i'd find the poorest peasant...# honestly, if someone asked me now would you rather have had a stutter, i actually would.
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i think it's made me a better person. notjudge other people with disabilities, even though i don't have a disability, it's made me, like, notjudge other people's, like, i don't know, other things they have. and it's made me a lot more of... i don't know, i do actually think it's made me, like, a better person. i don't laugh at people when they maybe have something wrong... not "wrong", but you know what i'm trying to say. yeah, i kind of enjoy... now when i think about my stutter, it's different now, cos i've got ways of getting round it. butl... itjust made me stronger, made me... when i went into actual life, i feel like getting picked on then made me realise it's not that bad, people laugh, but you still get by. # i guarantee you heard this song # you gon�* remember the name # big heath is the name, killing all the game...# i have a stutter. i have to say that every show, otherwise people look at me like, "does he know?" laughter. 29—year—old drew lynch has used laughter to help him cope with his stammer. i repeat myself, not because i'm disabled, but, you know, because you're dumb. laughter.
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he only started stammering ten years ago after a head injury playing sport. it's taken me a lot longer than i — i'm kind of ashamed to admit maybe how long it really took me to fully accept that this is... ..this is who i am. and it's not... it's not entirely who i am, but it's something that is a part of me, and i'm ok with it. i go to speech therapy and regular therapy, because i want my problems to sound good. laughter. he threw himself into the spotlight, a finalist on america's got talent, using his stammer, or stutter, as they call it in america, to make him a star. going on stage was something that made me feel... ..just like a human being again, like, people were listening to me again, because something about stuttering that i had to find out the hard way is, you know, a lot of people are impatient or they're...
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..or they're dismissive, or they're not as understanding. i want joe biden to win. cheering. hang on. applause. here's why. he's a person who stutters. cheering. that's the only reason why. laughter. it's not often you hear presidentjoe biden stammer, but he does. this isn't about... there's a reason why he's br...bringing up all this malarkey. he has spent his whole life mastering techniques to control his speech. but for him, it's no laughing matter. you know, think about it. stutter is the only thing people think they can laugh at. if i were standing up here talking about having a cleft palate, and how i had that operated on, or i had a withered arm... ..or i was partially paralysed...—one would make fun of it
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at all, but think about it. stuttering is the only thing that good people think it's still 0k to laugh about. and those of you who are stutterers, remember how it feels. remember how it feels. it drags you down in that empty hole in your chest. that feeling of panic you get and then anger. for a while, there was not a realisation that he had a stutter, or a stammer, and it's only him talking about it where it's become clear. i think that he just is determined that people will see that, yes, he might have a stutter, but he is clear about what he wants to say, and it may fumble a bit, and there may be times when sentences don't come out as perfectly formed as he would like, but he's not going to keep addressing people
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who say, "you're an idiot, you're simple, you're senile," because i think he just doesn't want to be defined in that particular way and made to feel that he's permanently on the defensive. over the years, joe biden has worked hard to use his position to help and encourage others who stammer. to all of you young people and parents who are here tonight, if i could share one piece of advice with you, it would be this. first, your stutter does not define who you are. your stutter is not about who you are. it has nothing to do with who you are at your core. with your intellectual competence. it has nothing to do with your decency, your character. everything that matters, it has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with. it's not been easy talking
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about my stammer after hiding it for so long, but i realise now i'm not alone. it turns out being more open can help, and i now know i'm not the only one who dreads being asked my name. and i know you can say your name. will you say it? 0k, 0k. erm... i can, ijust have to breathe. 0k. felicity baker. yes! brilliant! that's brilliant. thank you. that's lovely. you were amazing! that was so lovely. oh, my god. oh, god. yes. situations i least like — interviews, so you guys. "oh, you're doing really well today." most of the time, itjust makes me stammer more. i'm trying to say a simple word, and they tell me i
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what the word is like i don't know it. - don't pity me don't feel sorry for me if you're going to stammer, then you might as well stammer with. ..confidence. no, no. i pat myself on the back. everyone needs to be heard. everyone has a voice. and the idea, the old idea that . stammerers somehow have little to say or, you know, - weren't as bright as anybody else, i mean, that's- so utterly, ridiculously wrong. the cliche that it's owned me... ..and now i own it. just let me do it. i will finish that sentence if i want to. i can't believe you've got me talking about this after 36 years! # see, i'm a modern day robin hood # i'm just a man of the people, make sure it's understood # see, i could never envision that i'd be making cream # just a man with a team trying
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to achieve my dream the haters, i'mma see you in the afterlife # i'll be kicking bat with the gods, smoking half a pipe # and i ain't never going to change or do switch up # anybody hating on my name # big heath is the name, killing all the game, we've got some exceptionally mild air on the way over the next couple of days, with temperatures across parts of england set to surge as high as 17 celsius, compared with the december average, which is 8 celsius. the current england december temperature record stands at 17.7, so it is going to be really close to hitting those record levels. today, the best of the bright weather across scotland and northern ireland, still some patches of rain slow to clear away from eastern coastal counties of england, but eventually this evening that rain will clear off, and then we will start to get a band of heavy rain moving into the south—west overnight, and behind that band of rain we will start getting the exceptionally mild air with temperatures 1a degrees in plymouth by the end
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of the night, frosty fog patches in scotland in contrast. tomorrow, this band of rain will push its way north and east and behind this rain we will see temperatures surging, particularly in england, with highs expected to reach around 16—17.
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this is bbc news, this broadcasting to viewers in the uk and around the world. our top stories. the hospitality sector welcomes the decision not to impose further covid restrictions in england before the new year, but ministers are watching the data carefully and urge people to take extra care over the festive period. so, be cautious, take a lateralflow test before you go out. go to well ventilated areas. in the united states, people without covid symptoms can end their isolation period earlier — from 10 days to five, amid a surge in cases. more young children are being forced to work on the streets, as afghanistan's humanitarian crisis deepens — we'll bring
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you a special report from kabul. it's all over — australia thrash england to win the ashes,


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