Entertainment

Matt Baker on how dyslexia has made him better at his job

Autocues, scripts and emails – which he has to learn out stay on TV – have proved a nightmare through the years for Matt Baker, who has dyslexia.

Now 44, The One Show and Countryfile presenter – who was not too long ago awarded an MBE within the New Year Honours record – says he has developed a photographic reminiscence, which helps him deal with scripts. But he recollects how, at college, he how he would take a look at the phrases on a web page and they’d leap round or simply look jumbled and he would cease mid-sentence, usually making up the tip of it.

In his world, full stops are non-existent, he can’t fathom the place one sentence ends and the following begins. Being a countryman and benefiting from the nice open air has helped him escape from his struggles with dyslexia although – and Baker not too long ago wrote a e book, a memoir known as A Year On Our Farm.

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Today, he’s again at house on his smallholding within the Chilterns together with his spouse Nicola and two kids, Luke and Molly, after a 12 months at his mother and father’ farm within the Durham Dales, the place he made the Channel 4 documentary, Our Farm In The Dales, which has been commissioned for an additional two collection.

Here, Baker tells us extra about his life with dyslexia…

When do you know that you just had an issue?

“I’ve never not known that I had a problem, because my dad’s heavily dyslexic. I’ve grown up knowing that things are quite tricky in that department. As soon as I started having problems at school, it became very evident, really.”

Was it ever formally recognized?

“Dad was officially diagnosed and I just went along with everything he does to get through it.”


How exhausting did dyslexia make faculty life?

“I just wasn’t interested in the subjects I really struggled with – and I didn’t realise at the time. Reading was always an issue and even now, reading aloud is a nightmare. No matter how hard I try, I can’t read aloud.”

How does that have an effect on you engaged on TV?

“The scariest factor somebody can do to me is hand me an e mail on stay tv and ask me to learn it out. It does one thing to me. It’s completely petrifying. Whatever I learn, I study. I block all of it out in methods which suggests I can recognise sentences.

“We [people with dyslexia] recognise words but we don’t read them as such. It’s like flash cards all the time. If you see something, you say what you think it is and then you dig yourself out of it if you’re wrong.”

Before you have been a TV presenter, you went to drama faculty in Edinburgh. How did dyslexia have an effect on that path?

“Acting was great because it meant I could learn the words. I’d get books and plays at the city library on audio books so I could listen to them.”

How did you deal with autocues and scripts on TV?

“Script conferences have been horrible for me, the place any individual desires to take a seat down and skim a script – that was terrible. I’d get in and skim forward of time and make strategies from that.

“With autocue, I found a font called Dyslexie, which stops the words from jumping on the line and we got it put on the autocue. I always get my autocue spaced out, so that I can see the phrase and I say what I think it says. It’s as hard for the autocue operator as it is for me.”

Have you ever made any howlers utilizing that method?

“Oh, every show. It’s constant, never-ending. If I started working with a producer who didn’t really understand my challenges and they said, ‘I’ve changed the last thing, just read what it says’, now that is hideous for me.”

Has dyslexia helped your interview method in any respect?

“I listen to people more in my interviews because I’m not reading from the autocue. I will only ask what’s relevant to what somebody is saying to me, because I’m listening to what they are saying.”

Have you developed any methods for managing dyslexia?

“Trust me, I’m the world’s biggest try-hard. I have tried everything, and the best system I’ve got is that when I do read aloud, all of my full-stops are slashes. I will print out on blue paper because the reflection of the white doesn’t really help. I put certain key phrases in bold and then you don’t get hung up on incidental words.”

Do you could have any recommendation for different folks with dyslexia?

“Don’t worry it, as a result of it’s the very best factor ever. My dyslexia has inadvertently gifted me with an interview type folks appear to search out enjoyable. If any individual requested me if I may stay my life once more with out dyslexia, I might say no, since you recognise issues and also you do issues otherwise to the best way all people else does, and that will get you to the entrance of the queue.

“You see things which are very obvious to you. I’m very practical and visual – that’s what I’m drawn to. And you find ways around challenges and it gives you a different perspective on life.”

A Year On Our Farm by Matt Baker is revealed by Michael Joseph, priced £20. Available now.



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