Rowan Atkinson says Mr Bean is a 'natural born anarchist'
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“I find when I play a character other than myself, the stammering disappears,” Rowan Atkinson said. “That may have been some of the inspiration for pursuing the career I did,” he told Time magazine in 2007. Born in January 1955 in County Durham, England, Atkinson first pursued a career in electrical engineering, studying for his degrees in Newcastle University and Oxford University.
However, during his studies, he met the screenwriter Richard Curtis, and the pair wrote and performed comedy together.
Later, he co-wrote and appeared in Not The Nine O’Clock News, which won an International Emmy Award, landing Atkinson the BBC Personality Of The Year in 1979.
From there, Atkinson starred in the TV series Blackadder II, and leant his voice to Zazu in The Lion King (1994).
Despite a speech impediment, Atkinson has continued to be cast in movies, including Johnny English (2003) and Love Actually (2003).
A speech impediment
MedlinePlus said dysarthria is when the “person has problems expressing certain sounds or words”.
Poorly pronounced speech can come out as slurring, and the rhythm and speed of speech can be altered.
“Usually, a nerve or brain disorder has made it difficult to control the tongue, lips, larynx, or vocal cords,” MedlinePlus stated.
The NHS says stammering “is a relatively common speech problem in childhood”, which can persist in adulthood.
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Stammering is when a person either repeats sounds or syllables, for example, saying, “”mu-mu-mu-mummy”.
Stammering can also be when sounds are made longer, such as “mmmmmmummy”, or if a word “gets stuck or does not come out at all”.
“Stammering varies in severity from person to person, and from situation to situation,” the NHS adds.
“Someone might have periods of stammering followed by times when they speak relatively fluently.”
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There are two main types of stammering: developmental or acquired stammering.
The former, developmental stammering, is the most common, which happens in early childhood when speech and language skills are developing quickly.
An acquired stammer is when a stammer occurs in older children or adulthood as a result of a head injury, stroke, or a progressive neurological condition.
“It can also be caused by certain drugs, medicines, or psychological or emotional trauma,” the NHS adds.
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What causes stammering in children?
Developmental and inherited factors are thought to play a part, along with differences in how efficiently the speech areas of the brain are functioning.
Children are capable of growing out of stammers, but seeking treatment in pre-school age children increases the success rate of overcoming the stammer.
The British Stammering Association helpline is available is 0808 802 0002.
Rowan Atkinson stars in Mr Bean’s Holiday, which features on ITV on Saturday, October 22 at 3.20pm.
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