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When he suddenly became King after the abdication of his brother, the painfully shy George VI turned to a speech therapist to help him conquer his lifelong stutter and become a monarch who could lead his country through a war. If I'd been particularly well behaved it might be an American favourite, Burns And Allen, Jack Benny or Bob Hope. He was my King (I felt so proud of being British) and although everyone in the world, ally and enemy alike, listened critically to every syllable he uttered, he doggedly persevered. Abruptly, we boarded a ship filled to the gunwales with folk like ourselves. The Government was trying to relocate as many children as possible; I was one of the lucky ones, travelling with my parents. I further resolved one day I'd write something about my King. My first job was writing Tucker: The Man And His Dream for Francis Ford Coppola, the story of maverick car designer Preston Tucker and his ill-fated challenge to the motoring industry with his revolutionary car concept.

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I remember his voice, high, and tense, with occasional pauses and hesitation. You live in self-imposed silence because it is too painful to speak. My parents told me: 'The King was far worse than you.' George VI of England, known as Bertie, gave inspiration to a little boy exiled to a former colony.

My father had been in the First World War and, as a fur-broker who bought bales of pelts on commission, he had an office in New York City. Off went the convoy of three ships, two filled with families, one with Italian prisoners-of-war from North Africa. I didn't know what, in terms of a story, I was looking for, but I kept noticing little blips on the radar screen adding up to the question: Who was Lionel Logue?

Not a great deal was written about His Majesty's speech therapist, Lionel Logue, certainly not in the official biographies. to her private secretary, saying: 'Please, Mr Seidler, not during my lifetime, the memory of those events is still too painful.' This letter from Clarence House, and my subsequent reaction, is what convinced my American friends that I'm both British and dotty. Who in America waits for anything, especially an old lady?

Nor was much published about the Royal stutter; it appeared to be a source of profound embarrassment. But when the Queen Mother asks an Englishman to wait, he waits. But in late 2005 I was diagnosed with what appeared at the time to be a particularly ominous form of cancer (throat).

Today we've come a long way in our dealings with the handicapped. Naturally I took this Christmas present rather badly, but after three or four days of feeling sorry for myself, I realised grief wasn't particularly good for me.

But in Bertie's era, the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was never photographed standing, nor even sitting without his polio-stricken legs being discreetly covered with a blanket. I asked a friend in London to do a bit of detective work. crisp, clean, cream-coloured stationery with a red coat of arms from Clarence House. It lowers one's immunity, and the immune system is one's best friend.

I think that consisted of looking in the telephone directory. In an attempt to stop thinking about my woes, I plunged myself into creative work.

It produced the name and address of a surviving son of Lionel's, Dr Valentine Logue, an eminent retired Harley Street brain surgeon. I climbed it many times each day hoping a reply would be there. Which was when I thought: 'Well, David, if you're not going to tell Bertie's story now, when exactly do you intend to tell it?

(In The King's Speech film he's the lad with his nose buried in textbooks.) I wrote to him - this was in 1981, long before emails - and he replied that if I came to London he'd be pleased to talk with me and even show me the notebooks his father kept while treating the King. ' (Six years later I'm in remission and, to the despair of my enemies, in perfect health.) By now, though, I'd lost touch with Dr Logue and assumed that he too was no longer with us.

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