Michael Crawford breaks down in tears on All Star Musicals
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A new documentary, ‘Michael Crawford: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’, airs on Channel 5 tonight. It focuses on the life of the actor, whose career has taken him from appearing with Barbra Streisand in movie musical Hello Dolly, to the West End as the star of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, and his creation of sitcom legend Frank Spencer in Some Mother’s Do ‘Ave ‘Em. Michele Dotrice, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Arlene Phillips, Bill Kenwright and Maria Friedman will contribute to the documentary with their insight. While Mr Crawford is known for his positive, easygoing approach to life, he was dealt a big blow in 2004, when he was forced to leave a show because of ill health.
He learned he was suffering from the post-viral condition myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), which debilitated him for six years.
ME has a wide range of symptoms, but the most common is extreme tiredness.
It’s not entirely clear what causes chronic fatigue syndrome. Possible causes include an infection or problems with your immune system or hormones.
In 2016, as Mr Crawford prepared for a new project, he spoke to Loose Women about how he had coped with the illness.
He said: “It’s something that medically has not been explained yet, so there are thousands and thousands of people suffering.
“What happened to me, it’s something like the flu and it never went away.
“I lost myself. I lost my enthusiasm. The people I speak to, this is exactly how they described it, what I say to people is that you have to find yourself again. Find you inside this person the illness has turned you into.
Host Andrea Mclean asked Mr Crawford: “It’s almost as if your light’s gone out?”
He replied: “Yes. That’s a very good description. Because you don’t have that life.
“I’d wake up in the morning at eight o’clock and I’d think ‘it’s a new day, and you’re alive’ and then you’d get to about 12 o’clock and the day would finish. That’s not a good feeling.
“There are so many children that have it.”
Mr Crawford then spoke candidly about how he recovered from his difficult period with the illness.
He continued: “I was in a fortunate position where I was able to go away, and I’d been touring the world singing, and one of the places I’d been to was New Zealand.
“It was the most beautiful country I’d ever been to, and I went back there, I found somewhere to stay, and I’ve still got that place.
“I go back there quite often, and my life changed. I took away the pressures I was under when I felt unwell.
“When you get older you also become wiser about yourself. I knew that I had to change my lifestyle, and so I went away, I read.
“It took about three or four years, but then I got my enthusiasm back.”
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When he returned to the West End in 2011, Mr Crawford admitted that he feared he wouldn’t be able to continue his career due to the illness.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘If anyone had told me when I was struggling with ME that one day I’d be back in London’s West End, I wouldn’t have thought it possible.
“I thought my career had come to an end because I no longer had the energy, or even the inclination, to work again.
“I’d be totally exhausted by mid-afternoon, and I could barely climb the stairs at home. It was particularly alarming because all my life I’d enjoyed doing all my own stunts in shows, taking on every physical challenge.
“Yet suddenly, I’d become like a very old man. I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea what.”
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