Gareth Gates: Rowan Atkinson inspired me to try acting in spite of stammer

Gareth Gates has said Rowan Atkinson inspired him to try acting, after learning the Mr Bean star also has a stammer.

Pop Idol winner Gates has often spoken about his struggles with his speech impediment and said he was surprised when he found out that Atkinson faced the same challenge.

Gates told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I met the incredible Rowan Atkinson and he introduced himself and I could instantly see he had a really bad stammer.

“I was really amazed by this, he’s a very well-known actor.

Wonka photo call – London
Blackadder and Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson learned how to manage his speech impediment (Ian West/PA)

“We sat down and I chatted with him for hours, obviously, because we can’t speak.

“He actually inspired me to act and, off the back of meeting him, I’ve done lots of West End shows, I’ve learned scripts and dialogue.

“I can now speak on stage, purely down to him, so we all inspire each other.”

Gates will soon be appearing on stage in his new show Gareth Gates Sings Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, and has previously appeared in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Les Miserables, Footloose, Boogie Nights, and Legally Blonde.

Atkinson has starred in films such as Wonka, Love Actually and Johnny English, as well as cult TV series Blackadder.

Gates also addressed how it feels when other people interrupt to finish his sentences when he is stammering, often thinking they are helping.

He said: “It can be very frustrating if you finish a sentence that I’m trying to say, and it’s the wrong thing. No, I’m not trying to say that!

“The advice is just be patient, and if you are patient, it’s just accepting them for who they are and giving them the space that they need.”

Gates has previously bonded with GMB host Ed Balls about living with a stammer, with the politician turned presenter saying he was inspired by the musician.

Balls said he still sometimes struggles to get words out while he is hosting live television, but co-presenter Susanna Reid knows to give him the time he needs.

He said to Reid: “Every now and then I will have a bit of a block and it’s momentary.

“But I know that you now know that, when that happens, you just wait, and then we carry on, whereas the instinct is ‘Oh my gosh, he’s in trouble, should I jump in?’ and that ends up being destabilising.

“Susanna is brilliant at it, because she can see it and read it.

“And that is what teachers need to do, it’s what mums and dads learn to do, it is what we all need.”