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Lost for words

The King’s Speech is the first film to portray my speech defect realistically, says the Man Booker-nominated novelist David Mitchell

By David Mitchell   March 2011

Being the owner of a speech defect, I watch the portrayal of stammerers in the arts with a hypercritical eye. No film (to my knowledge) comes close to the intelligence with which the award-winning The King’s Speech handles the subject of stammering. Scriptwriter David Seidler and actor Colin Firth’s portrait of George VI’s struggles is perceptive, unsentimental and refreshingly accurate.

The future monarch’s speech is dogged by a phonetic band of main offenders—hard Cs and Ks, Gs and Qu-words—plus a narrower group of sporadic “guest” troublemakers: Fs, Phs, and Ws. Bang on. Many fictional stammerers stumble over random letters—a dead…

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