Ed Balls on overcoming stammer: I thought hosting 'GMB' would lead to meltdown

Watch: Ed Balls admits he never would have thought he could host a TV show

Ed Balls has opened up about his stammer on Good Morning Britain, admitted he previously doubted his ability to host a live breakfast TV show.

The former politician — who has joined Susanna Reid as co-host of the ITV show this week and has been criticised by some viewers for his awkward use of the autocue — urged anyone with a speech impediment that acceptance is the first step to overcoming it.

Balls, 54, confessed: "The idea that I could be on Good Morning Britain, looking at the screen, reading the autocue and getting through a morning like this with all this noise in my year — 12 years ago I would have been in meltdown. And actually today I'm loving it."

Read more: Ed Balls admits nerves as he makes 'GMB' hosting debut and struggles with autocue

The former Labour secretary of state for children, schools and families revealed his stammer was not diagnosed until adulthood, but making it public had been the greatest step in overcoming the challenge.

Ed Balls said accepting his stammer as part of him was the first step to overcoming it. (PA)
Ed Balls said accepting his stammer as part of him was the first step to overcoming it. (PA)

He said: "I didn't find out it was a stammer until it was already in the cabinet.

"My dad said to me when I got selected as an MP, 'I don't know what it is but you've got the same as me, I think it will stop you getting on'.

"In the cabinet, I couldn't do autocue. I could never read a speech. I would learn my speeches and then do them as if off the cuff but, in fact, I knew what I was saying.

"Questions in the Commons when you had to read out the precise words, it was a nightmare.

"And they said to me, until you are public about it, it will never get better. I didn't do that until 2009 and since then, it takes the pressure away.

Programme Name: Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls - TX: n/a - Episode: Inside the Care Crisis with Ed Balls - ep 2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: with (l-r) Betty and Phyllis. Ed Balls - (C) Expectation Entertainment  - Photographer: Stuart Wood
Ed Balls recently presented a new documentary Inside the Care Crisis. (BBC)

"Sometimes it goes wrong, but that's fine. We all are not fluent in speaking in our normal life."

"You have to just accept — it never goes away. It's part of who you are and if you own it and just say 'This is who I am, take it or leave it,' If you have a go then it's amazing what you can do.

"I stammer all the time. I will stammer for two-and-a-half hours through this show and most people will say 'Didn't notice anything'. You ride with it and roll through and think 'It's just me'.

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Balls lost his seat as a Labour MP in 2015 and took part in Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.

<p>The hit politician-turned-ballroom dancer would be a dream contestant for the ‘New Stars’ team. </p>
Ed Balls competed on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016. (BBC)

He guest hosted political panel show Have I Got News For You in 2017 and earlier this year was crowned the winner of reality show Celebrity Best Home Cook.

Balls also fronted a new two-part documentary series Inside the Care Crisis, which now available on BBC iPlayer.