Beat It: The Boy with the Stammer, Monday June 25

beat it
the boy with the stammer (2/3)

Continuing tonight on Five is a series of documentaries following members of the public as they attempt to overcome a variety of psychological difficulties. Tonight’s instalment follows schoolboy Cameron’s attempt to defeat the stammer that cripples his self-confidence and prevents him from expressing himself. Ever since he could speak, 13-year-old Cameron has stammered. When he began to talk “in a jumbled-up way”, his mother took him to a speech therapist. She was told he would hopefully grow out of it – but he has not. Cameron is articulate when he can force the words out, but most of the time, he explains, “my throat gets so tight, nothing gets out.” Cameron talks candidly about his “stressful” and “disheartening” condition: “It’s kind of like a parasite,” he says. “It just won’t leave.”

Before his last birthday, Cameron told his mum, Jane, that he did not want any presents – just a new voice box so he could speak normally. Then, he said, he would “have so much confidence it would be unbelievable.” Determined to help her son beat this problem, Jane has enrolled him on an intensive residential course where teachers use a breathing technique to help people manage their stammers. The Starfish course is run by Anne Blight, who explains that the technique of “costal breathing” is simple and well established: “It’s not rocket science,” she says.

The technique centres on stammerers taking a deep breath before speaking to help them get the words out. The first morning of the course finds Cameron in a room full of adults, who introduce themselves by recording a piece to video. Many of the participants struggle to speak, and for Jane, sitting at the back of the room, it is a heart-rending experience: “Lots of people there seem to have struggled and ended up not doing what they wanted to do with their lives – and all because of a speech problem,” she says. The afternoon session sees the stammerers begin using the breathing technique, with belts tied around their chests to help them inhale deeply. Using a “buddy system”, participants stand in a line facing their partner and practise saying their names. With the help of his partner Matt – himself an ex-stammerer – Cameron seems to make rapid progress: “It’s weird,” he says. “It’s actually working!” Jane is equally impressed: “I didn’t really appreciate how effective it would be and how quickly people could pick it up,” she says.

Day two finds Cameron suffering a crisis of confidence, as the sudden hope of life without a stammer temporarily overwhelms him. But with encouragement from Anne and Matt, Cameron is able to stand up in front of the group and briefly introduce himself. It is a watershed moment for the lad, who finds renewed confidence in the afternoon session, when the stammerers confront one of their greatest fears: a live telephone call.

Using a speakerphone in front of the group, Cameron successfully calls directory enquiries – and is so enthused by his achievement that he volunteers to do it again. Cameron ends the day on a high, being the second person to stand up before the room and express his gratitude to the course organisers. “I’m a very proud, happy young boy,” he says. “You’re all a great inspiration to me and hopefully we can help many other people like us.” Cameron finishes the course determined to build on what he has accomplished: “It may not be a cure,” he says. “But it helps a hell of a lot!”

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  • Marie Dixon

    Does anyone have a copy of this programme, we were unable to watch it due to bad weather interference with our sky reception and my eldest son has a severe stammer.

    Many Thanks

  • Cameron’s Mum Jane

    Hi Marie….I’m Cam’s mum (the boy in the documentary). I would suggest that you contact Channel 5 and explain your dilemma. Their email from the prog was The course that Cameron went on was the Starfish Project run by Anne Blight and they do run a seperate course for young people. I really reccommend you give it a go. It will help your son and I know how important that is. Their web site is uk. Good luck. Jane

  • Gladys

    I too have been trying to get a copy of the programme “Beat it The Boy with a Stammer” televised on 25th June on chanel 5. After reading Cam’s mother Jane’s suggestions I contacted Chanel 5 but they do not keep copies of programmes not made by themelves but gave me the details of the company who made the programme Landmark Films who now tell me they do not have a copy as they have sold off the business and equipment now. In despair I phoned the Starfish Project and spoke to David Blight himself who said that they now only have their master copy which they dare not loan out. Apparently they did have one other copy which they loaned to someone in Amsterdam who has as yet still not returned it. Phoned chanel 5 again to ask if there is any chance of a repeat being shown but apparently as it was only broadcast in June they said it was “too soon for a repeat” and there was no plan to repeat it for the next few months as far as they could tell. Please please does anyone have a copy I could borrow which I promise to return within 48hours. I saw the programme but my son did not and he so needs to see this programme. Where else can I try????

  • Neil (Shropshire)

    Are you still looking for a copy of this programme?
    I copied it myself – as an “occasional” stammer I found it very interesting..
    I would be more than pleased to send you a copy.

    Neil (Shropshire)

  • Anonymous

    Same applies to you Marie.
    I would be more than pleased to send you a copy.

    Great to see that parents are making an effort.

    Neil (Shropshire)

  • Anonymous


    Does anyone have a copy of this programme.

    Most grateful if i could get one.

    All the best!!!

  • Yep – as mentioned previously I’ll send you a copy (DVD) – just send me your details.


  • Chris Innocent

    Hi Neil,

    I’m writing because a young friend of mine Richard (he’s 14) watched the programe with his mum & he is keen to do something to minimise his own stammer, but until we had a chat this morning, he had forgotton who had made this film. We have trawelled the internet together to find it and he’s pretty certain that this is the TV programme that interested him.

    Can you please let me too have have a copy of the DVD

    Many thanks
    Chris Innocent

    SENCO St. Bede’s High School,
    St. Anne’s Road,
    L39 4TA

    tel 01695 570 335

  • lee

    hello i see from this site that there is a dvd about stammering as i suffer from this is it possible for me to have one to lee chaplin ,15 warne st,fleur-de-lys,blackwood ,gwent,np123rs thanks

  • anonymous

    dear neil, my daughter has a bad stammer but is too embarrassed to have any treatment. Could you send me a DVD of the program Beat It about the Starfish course. I saw from a link to your name that you support people looking for sponsors for a cancer charity. Would you like me to send you something for the DVD or it be good if I sent them a donation, all the best, bryony

  • claire – sheffield

    I have just read the comments on the page about the boy with the stammer. My son has just come back from a three day course at the starfish project. My husband went with him and said everyone at the course was friendly helpful and the most genuine people he has ever met. I watched the programme last year when it was screened on channel five along with my son and it was then he said he wanted to attend the course. I would love to be able to get hold of a copy of the dvd from the programme and if anyone has any information about where i can get one i would appreciate an email, My email address is :

    Its a brilliant opportunity for people who have a stammer and my son has had it since he started school. He is now nearly 13. He came home and said i can now speak properly and was punching his hands in the air. That for me was a very special moment. Thank you to all involved in the project and my son will be down on the refreshers without a doubt.

  • claire carlisle

    can i just also add – its not a cure, but its a breathing technique to help the stammerers control their speech. For all whose been on the course or who is thinking of going – GO FOR IT and keep talking!!!

    See you in August!!!

    claire – sheffield

  • sharon whiting

    My Son & I went on the Starfish course in March this year.I can honestly say they the most emotional 3 days I have ever spent. I spent most of my time crying, its unbelievable the passion that Anne & David have, and the support from the refreshers.To hear my Son speak fluently after stammering for 11 years was better than winning the lottery.He went back as a refresher on Sunday, being part of starfish is like being a member of a huge family.If anyone reading this has a child with a stammer , please, please, please get them on a starfish course, it has changed my Son’s life.

  • claire –

    Hello sharon, this is Brandons mum. I know ur son went on the course the same time as brandon cus i have heard him mention his name. I didnt get down in march but am hoping to attend in August. If ur heading down there it would be lovely to meet u. You are right about the big extended family, my husband said the same…really genuine people and just wanting to help. My email address is on the comments on this page somewhere, it would be lovely to hear from you.


  • hi im james and im 16 years old and im a proud recovering stammerer. i have recently returned back from a starfish course for young adults which was from july 22nd-25th. before i went to starfish i had a stammer which i could hide and most people who i met or got to know me either didnt know i had a stammer. my stammer was terrible but i found that it was worse when i was around people who i knew and was relaxed around. on the days leading up to starfish i was quite calm and hoping for the best, when i arrived at the hotel which holds the starfish courses, i would just like to thank the hotel for hosting the course and for good service, i was so nervous and so were the other teenagers who arrived. we were all very shy and kept ourselves to ourselves. in the evening we all had a meal and got to know each other but the teenagers were all very shy and tense including myself. in the morning we all met with anne and david blight who are so passionate and dedicated to helping stammerers it is unbelivable. in total there were about 12 of us all with either our mother or father, we had to start the course by recording video talking about ourselves. we then purchased a belt that anne and david’s friends kindly make just for starfish and then on we started to learn costal breathing and a new speaking techniqe which is hardwork but if you are prepared to work hard the rewards are spectacular. with the help of the refreshers who are previous stammerers who come back on courses to help ‘new people’ and their guidence and support is irreplacable. i would like to thank all the refreshers including matt, ross, both james’s, trevor, tom, suhail, barry, judith the list is to long to carry on but everyone i spoke to and met you are an inspiration and motivation. you are all my idols and my respect for you all will never be douted. the second day we did roleplays for example ordering food introducing ourselves at partys whic was great fun. on the third day we filmed our final video and the progress made by my fellow recovering stammerers was unbeliable and the parents were all so emotional. we ended the course going into eastbourn shopping centre and asking random people questions and creating situats which would challenge our new techniqe. at first it is quite hard and scary but you slowly build confidence. these are the situations that will occur in the future. i would just like to thank anna david, the refreshers, pauline who helps anna organise th course and the hotel. my speech has inproved dramatically and i praise starfish. i will be returning in the near future and try and lend my experience to others. if you or someone else is considering going on starfish dont miss the opportunity. it take lots of hard work and you get tired easily but this is so worthwhile and the best experience of my life. also use the phonelist it is fanstastic for support and guidence,i used it the day after i returned from my course. all the best james and i hope we might meet on a course in the future.

  • sorry about my spelling in my previous passage its terrible. and i have spelt anne wrong twice. sorry anne

  • We have only just been made aware of this thread – If anyone wants a copy of the film we have them, or any other information on the course please contact us.
    Anne and David

  • Fiona

    Hi Anne and David,
    I would very much like a copy of this film. I am a speech and language therapist working with children and this would be a useful film to show to some of the children I work with.
    Please let me know re. costs.
    Thank you

  • Fiona

    Hi Anne and David,
    I would very much like a copy of this film. I am a speech and language therapist working with children and this would be a useful film to show to some of the children I work with.
    Please let me know re. costs.
    Thank you

  • Tom

    Please remember that the Starship Programme was entirely copied from another, longer established course called the McGuire Programme.

    It’s really just a nicey nicey version. ‘McGuire Lite’ you could call it. I did them both so I should know! If you’re serious about your stutter, I’d advise going for McGuire.

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