Stephen Critchlow

At the First Stroke - performed by Stephen Critchlow & friends

Fundraising for NHS Charities Together
raised of £1,500 target
by 166 supporters
NHS Charities Together and its members across the UK are hugely grateful for the support received from so many since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.


In January of this year, I had a stroke and spent time at Northampton General Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham.  While in hospital, I experienced first-hand the hard work and pressure facing NHS workers. When I was back home, a writer friend of mine came to visit me.  He suggested I write an account of my time in hospital. This could have a therapeutic effect, he told me, and it has. 

I also wanted to give something back to our amazing NHS, all those people who come from every part of the globe, who work hard and care for us, when we can’t care for ourselves.  I have therefore recorded as honestly as I can the journey of a stroke victim, some of my meetings with staff and patients along the way, and the humour and humanity I found on the hospital wards. 

If you have enjoyed this podcast and would like to show your appreciation of the NHS, please give whatever you feel you can afford.

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Thank you for listening.


THE COAT CUPBOARD COLLECTIVE presents AT THE FIRST STROKE, STEPHEN CRITCHLOW’s uplifting and often hilarious account of his extraordinary recovery from a serious stroke earlier this year while in rehearsals for ALONE IN BERLIN at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton.

With contributions from RACHEL ATKINS, DAVID HOLT, CHRIS PAVLO and DAVID SARGENT. Especial thanks to NAXOS for its generous licensing of the CRUSH COLLISION MARCH by SCOTT JOPLIN.

STEPHEN CRITCHLOW has been a professional actor for over thirty years and a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company no less than five times.  Stage credits include Sir Peter Hall’s HAMLET (Gielgud), Ray Cooney’s PYGMALION (Albery), three years in THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS (Criterion), and CYRANO DE BERGERAC at the Royal National Theatre. Stephen has toured in many productions, including ROUND THE HORNE REVISITED (in which he played Kenneth Horne), and recently THIS HOUSE for Headlong and THE REMAINS OF THE DAY for Out of Joint.  His many TV and film credits include, DOWNTON ABBEY, MIRANDA, SKINS, CIDER WITH ROSIE, RED DWARF 11, HATTIE, FANTABULOZA, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY and CHURCHILL: THE HOLLYWOOD YEARS.

RACHEL ATKINS’ recent theatre work includes, THE COUNTRY GIRLS (Minerva Chichester), INKHEART and ROMEO AND JULIET (Home Theatre Manchester).  For television, she has appeared in CHERNOBYL, THE ROOK, HUMANS, and CALL THE MIDWIFE, and films include THE LAST LETTER FROM YOUR LOVER and THE COUNTRY GIRL.  Rachel has been a member of the BBC Radio Drama Company several times and was a regular in THE ARCHERS.  She has recorded numerous audiobooks as well as voice overs for video games.

DAVID HOLT studied theatre arts in Birmingham in the late 1980s and then moved London to pursue a career as a versatile actor in TV, film, theatre, radio, and as a voice artist. He has appeared in countless productions of all types over a 30+ year career, and is renowned for his animation voice work, having appeared in over 90 animated TV series.

CHRIS PAVLO has worked extensively in the voice world.  He has enjoyed four seasons with the BBC Radio Drama Company, with credits ranging from THE ARCHERS to news-based comedy THE WAY IT IS.  He can also be heard voicing video games, commercials, documentaries and podcasts. Chris co-founded and runs THE PODCAST COMPANY, a production house for podcasts.

DAVID SARGENT has been an actor and voice-over artist for 32 years. He shares a drama school and voice agent with Stephen Critchlow.  Apart from that he has worked in theatre, film, radio and television – most recently in PENNYWORTH for Warner TV, and the films THE COMPLEX and BRITISH PEOPLE released in 2020. 


PRODUCTION | ChromeRadio for the Coat Cupboard Collective | Producer – Catriona Oliphant | Post-production – Catriona Oliphant & Chris Sharp | Tea boy – Martyn Wade.

About the campaign

NHS Charities Together and its members across the UK are hugely grateful for the support received from so many since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

About the charity

NHS Charities Together is a national independent charity caring for the NHS. Together with a network of over 230 NHS charities across the UK, we provide the extra support needed to care for NHS staff, patients and communities.

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