HE is best known for his work on comedy shows The Vicar of Dibley and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, but scriptwriter Paul Mayhew-Archer is tackling a new topic.
Three years ago, Mr Mayhew-Archer was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and he has spoken out and taken part in various events – including ballet classes – to highlight the disease and its effects.
Speaking as Parkinson’s Awareness Week ended last night, he said: “There are a lot of different symptoms. People think of Parkinson’s as the shakes, but I don’t shake.
“Lots of people don’t shake.
“The symptoms are so varied it’s difficult to point out what the symptoms are.
“A lot of people don’t know about the freezing of muscles that occurs.”
Parkinson’s is a neurological condition that affects more than 127,000 people in the UK.
There is currently no cure, but charity Parkinson’s UK is funding research to find one.
Mr Mayhew-Archer, who lives in Drayton, said: “People need to be patient with us.
Dawn French as Vicar of Dibley Geraldine Granger
“When I go to the supermarket it takes me a while to bag things up and it takes me forever to get my wallet out. My fingers simply are not dextrous enough. If more people know about Parkinson’s, then maybe people would understand.”
Mr Mayhew-Archer, 61, may have to slow down, but he’s certainly not stopping.
He said: “I am determined not to let it get me down. It’s galvanised me into doing things.
“I had gotten to the stage in my life where I was semi-retired, I was just doing a couple of projects but that’s it.
“Now I’ve taken on new responsibilities.”
The cast of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps
As well as working on new writing projects – including a television adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot, which begins filming with Judi Dench and James Corden this month – he has become involved with Parkinson’s UK.
He said: “I’m a member of the local group, and we meet once a month.
“I’ve decided to talk about it and raise awareness, and to try and see the lighter side of Parkinson’s.”
One of the events for Parkinson’s Awareness Week was a ballet class in the Oxford Town Hall as part of Dance 4 Parkinson’s with the English National Ballet.
Mr Mayhew-Archer said: “It was fantastic exercise. Really, I move pretty well so I enjoyed it.”
Mr Mayhew-Archer joked: “Other illnesses get a day, and we seem to get a week. Maybe it’s because this disease makes us all a bit slower.”
For more information on Parkinson’s disease visit parkinsons.org.uk
Parkinson’s Disease - the facts
ONE in every 500 people have Parkinson’s disease, which means more than 1,300 people in Oxfordshire have the condition.
Named after Dr James Parkinson who published an essay on it in 1817, it is a neurological condition that gets progressively worse.
People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of the chemical dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died.
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are shaking, stiffness and slowness of movement.
Other symtoms include eye and speech problems, depression and fatigue.
These can be controlled using different drugs, therapies and surgeries, but there is no known cure.
Several celebrities have been diagnosed with the disease, including Muhammad Ali, Michael J Fox and most recently Billy Connolly.