Former Top Gear host Sue Baker died after battle with motor neurone disease – symptoms

Baker joined Top Gear in 1980, appearing in 22 series of the show primarily concerned with reviewing new cars. A statement from Baker’s family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news of Sue’s passing. A doting mother to Ian and Hannah, a loving grandmother to Tom and George, and a wonderful mother-in-law to Lucy.

“She passed at home this morning with family around her. She was a talented and prolific writer, a charismatic TV presenter, and a passionate animal lover…

“Thank you to everyone who has supported her over the last few years as she battled with MND [motor neurone disease].”

What is motor neurone disease (MND)?

The NHS explains that MND “affects the brain and nerves” that “causes weakness that gets worse over time”.

“MND can significantly shorten life expectancy and, unfortunately, eventually leads to death,” the health body notes.

Early indications of the life-limiting condition include weakness in the ankle or leg, which might mean the person affected finds it harder to climb stairs.

There could be slurred speech, which could develop into difficulty swallowing foods.

And a weak grip can develop, causing the person affected to drop things, and to have difficulty with opening jars, or doing up buttons.

Muscles within the arms and legs could become thinner, leading to weight loss, and there can be issues with stopping yourself from crying or laughing.


MND is considered an “uncommon condition” that mainly affects older adults.

“It’s caused by a problem with cells in the brain and nerves called motor neurones,” the NHS elaborates.

“These cells gradually stop working over time. It’s not known why this happens.”

Anybody experiencing early signs of MND are encouraged to seek the support of their doctor.

Experts at the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) summarised the impact MND can have on people.

The life-limiting condition can “affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe”.

Up to 5,000 adults are affected by MND at any one time in the UK and, as it’s fairly uncommon, it requires specialist care.

While there is no single test for the condition, nor a cure, once diagnosed, treatment can help reduce the impact of symptoms.

Medication called riluzole could slightly slow down the progression of the disease.

Meanwhile, specialists can advise on how to maintain strength and reduce stiffness, as well as what to eat and can help to provide emotional support.

“The condition eventually leads to death, but how long it takes to reach this stage varies a lot,” the NHS asserts.

“A few people live for many years or even decades with motor neurone disease.”

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