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David Graham health: Doctor Who star, 96, ‘can’t get out’ after suffering from a stroke

Ben Whishaw says he's 'definitely not Doctor Who'

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Born in 1925, Graham shot to notoriety in the 1960s after playing several characters in sci-fi BBC series Doctor Who. Most notably he lent his voice to one of the most recognisable villains of the series, the Daleks. From there he went on to become the voice of Gordon Tracy, Brains, Parker and Kyrano for the legendary TV series Thunderbirds, as well as its film Thunderbirds Are Go. His other voice work includes the Moomin TV series and more recently as Grandpa in Peppa Pig. Such a talented actor, has also made it to an impressive 96 years of age, but sadly a stroke meant that the star couldn’t get out to carry on his work.

Back in December 2021, George Layton, who is best known for his role in comedy series Doctor in the House and its two subsequent sequels, shared an update with his 5,000 Twitter followers.

Alongside a picture of him and Graham, he tweeted: “With my dear friend, actor David Graham. You might know him better as ‘Parker’ from ‘Thunderbirds’, ‘Grandpa Pig’ & was one of the original Dalek voices.

“He had a stroke six months ago & can’t get out. But this young 96-year old is making a great recovery doing voice work from home!”

A day later, Layton returned to Twitter to share a memory that he and Graham shared when they both appeared in the London production of The Bespoke Overcoat back in 2010.

He said: “David Graham & myself in the London production of Wolf Mankowitz’s classic gem ‘The Bespoke Overcoat’.

“A beautifully written story of love & friendship. We loved working together. Would do it again in a heartbeat…”

Following these tweets, fans from across the globe sent Graham well wishes and praised him for his voice over work over the years.

One user wrote: “Holy hell, didn’t know he had a stroke. Hope he is doing well and good to hear he’s recovering.”

Whilst another added: “So he’s to blame for me hiding behind the settee when Dr Who was on. Get well soon.”

With many remembering him for his older work in Doctor Who and Thunderbirds, a new and younger generation also praised his recent work.

One tweeted: “Please heal up, Grandpa Pig!”

And a second said: “This guy is great. Sorry to hear he is housebound. My son loves Grandpa Pig and The Old Wise Elf from Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. He is a childhood hero for many generations. Thanks for sharing.”

he NHS explains that a stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition. It occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and can lead to permanent damage on how the brain works and how you think and feel.

The three main types of stroke are:

  1. Ischemic stroke – caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke.
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke – caused by a bleeding in or around the brain.
  3. Transient ischemic attack TIA (a warning or “mini-stroke”) – it is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms only last for a short amount of time. This is because the blockage that stops the blood getting to your brain is temporary.

The Stroke Association explains that as we age, arteries become harder and narrower, making it more likely that they will become blocked. Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can also increase an individual’s risk of having a stroke.

Due to the damaging nature of a stroke, it is important that individuals know the signs and first symptoms in order to get medical help as fast as possible.

The NHS recommends remembering the word FAST in order to spot the main symptoms of the condition. This stands for the following:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
  • Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

Depending on the type of stroke an individual has and the part of the brain that has been affected, treatment and recovery will differ. Typically strokes are treated with medication in order to prevent blood clots and reduce both blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

In some cases, procedures may be required to remove blood clots. Surgery may also be required to treat brain swelling and reduce the risk of further bleeding if this was the cause of your stroke.

Recovery is also difficult to predict as some strokes are serious, with others only relatively minor. Some of the most common physical damage caused by stroke include incontinence, problems with swallowing or eating, weakness or paralysis. Nerve damage can cause difficulty with exercise or physical activity, too.

The mental challenges strokes can cause include hallucinations or delusions, and individuals may have to work hard to relearn how to walk, talk and use affected limbs.

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