Lee Mack sparks uproar with thoughtless mocking of speech impediment

Alex Jones jokes that she ‘hates’ Lee Mack after he mocks her

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Each week, Would I Lie To You sees guests reveal unusual facts and embarrassing personal tales which may or may not be true and the opposing team must decide if they are lying or not. Not Going Out star Lee Mack, who is a regular team captain, found himself in hot water after an unfortunate response when show host Rob Brydon found himself struggling with a word.

In last Friday’s programme Brydon, 54, struggled when saying the word “she”.

This led Mack to begin mocking him as he said: “What is she? What is she, Rob?”

Having raised a chuckle from the studio audience he continued: “The suspense is killing me.”

He proceeded to repeat the word “she” several times while squinting his eyes, which everyone in the studio seemed to find amusing.

Leaving no doubt as to what he was implying Mack asked the Gavin and Stacey star: “Are you auditioning for Open All Hours?”

In the popular 1970s and 80s sitcom Arkwright (played by Ronnie Barker) was portrayed as having a stutter for comedic effect.

The character didn’t have a stutter in the original scripts.

Instead, Barker took Arkwright’s signature stutter from one of his comic mentors, the 1950s writer and performer Glenn Melvyn, who had made it his trademark.

In a press release responding to Mack’s performance, charity STAMMA said it was “disheartening to see Lee Mack and the Would I Lie to You crew mock stammering on Friday night’s show.”

The statement continued: “Around eight percent of kids and at least one percent of adults stammer. This is our voice, it’s how we talk.

“The thoughtless ridicule we saw on Would I Lie to You offers us a stark choice between being laughed at or being silent. We know it wasn’t meant to hurt or offend, but for many who stammer, it does.

“To all those adults and teens out there who stammer, and all those parents who have kids who stammer, know that there are many people who accept that stammering is simply the way some of us talk. Who make space and time for us in conversation and value our fabulous, stammered voices.”

The charity’s CEO Jane Powell also waded in and said “Stammering isn’t a joke, and this isn’t the 70s.

“Thousands of people who love WILTY – and who stammer – will have watched the show on Friday, and felt uncomfortable and embarrassed watching Lee Mack mock how they talk.

“It’s a shame the BBC didn’t see that this was worth editing out.”

The charity said they had contacted the BBC for comment.

It is not the first time Mack has come under fire for insensitivity.

In October 2013 he caused a furore after he suggested during a Desert Island Discs appearance that women were less suited to comedy.

Mack, who wrote a thesis on female comedians for his degree at Brunel University, justified his thinking saying that women are “far more interested in what the other person has to say.”

He claimed: “The conversation is more interactive and less about individually showing off.”

Would I Lie To you is on BBC1 at 9pm on Fridays. Previous episodes are available on the iPlayer.

STAMMA can be contacted through their website https://stamma.org/

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