NEWS_161012_TV Doctor couldn’t hear the TV...
TV Doctor couldn’t hear the TV...
As the 'TV doctor' on ITV's This Morning programme for almost 25 years, Dr Chris Steele is a warm and familiar face to millions.
And for many hundreds of people in South Manchester he was also their trusted General Practitioner, a job he loved. 'I became a doctor because I wanted to help people,' he told amplifonLife.
His name was first mentioned to producers of the show by TV couple Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, whose GP he was at the time. At first I said 'me, on TV? No way' - but my kids all thought it was hilarious and said 'Dad, you've just got to do it' - so I did!'
He agreed to a three month run on the programme with a short item once a week... and the rest, as they say, is history!
Affectionately known as 'Dr Chris,' he broke new ground by broadcasting practical and educational demonstrations to help identify the early signs of breast and testicular cancer. And when the letters poured in telling him 'you saved my life,'... 'you saved my wife's life' - he knew just what a powerful part he could play in improving people's health.
In fact his work was recognised by the Queen in 2008 with the award of an MBE for his services to the medical profession and to broadcasting.
Dr Chris says being a GP and knowing the theory and symptoms of hearing loss in no way prepared him for his own experience: 'I was just like everyone else,' he told amplifonLife, 'I thought there's nothing wrong with my hearing, even when my wife kept telling me to turn the television down - a bit ironic when I was appearing on it every week!
One of the things that brought it home to him was Christmas time with the family. 'I've got four children and two grandchildren - so you can imagine what it's like when everyone's talking and laughing around the dinner table - the sheer noise!
'When your hearing is going, you can't follow a conversation in noisy environments, so you do miss out. That's when it hits you - just how isolating it can be. I'm lucky, I have a big family, but there are many, particularly older people, who are on their own. It's hard enough for them to go to places and meet people, but if they can't hear properly they can withdraw into themselves. I know what it's like - you're afraid you'll mishear and give inappropriate answers - you're afraid of looking silly.'
'I know people think there's a stigma about having hearing aids - it's admitting you're getting older - but there are so many people who can be helped if they just do something about it.
'Having a hearing test himself and being fitted with hearing aids was a complete revelation: 'One of the first things I noticed was the rustling of paper on the desk - I just hadn't realised I'd stopped hearing that. Then when I got outside I was hearing birds singing for the first time in years.' Dr Chris also believes his much improved hearing is helping him professionally - making sure he is at the top of his game in the busy studio environment each week.
He is delighted to be an ambassador to help raise awareness of hearing loss alongside Amplifon - and he was keen to experience a modern hearing assessment first hand. 'Forget I'm a doctor, just treat me as you would any other patient,' he told Hearing Aid Audiologist Lee Thompson at his local Wilmslow branch.
He was impressed with what he saw: 'It was very thorough,' he said, 'and Lee was so patient. He was happy to explain every aspect and really wanted to know about my lifestyle. I simply said I wanted to hear better, but he explained that the type of hearing aids and settings would be different depending on how I spend my time and what was important to me. I hadn't appreciated that he would tailor my hearing 'system', just for me.
'And I can't believe how small my hearing aids are - we've come a long way from the 'beige banana' that is still in some people's minds. Some hearing aids even sit inside your ear canal and really are invisible. I wear 'behind the ear' models and was talking to the sound guys who work on This Morning about them. Those guys are sound professionals yet they hadn't even noticed them - in fact they didn't even believe I was wearing any until I took them off and showed them!