Deborah James: Bowelbabe in her own words
Sarah Beeny’s new life in the country
Dame Deborah James, aka Bowelbabe, the irrepressible campaigner, presenter and dancer of the 3am Macarena, passed away last June at the age of 40.
It is both disturbing and reassuring to know that her inspiring example will continue to inspire many thousands, even after her death. Deborah James: Bowelbabe In Her Own Words (BBC2) provided an intravenous infusion of hope for anyone battling serious illness.
This collage of Deborah’s social media posts, podcasts, TV interviews and family videos captured her exuberant personality and her determination to enjoy life as long as possible.
After her diagnosis at age 35, she earned a doctorate, wrote a bestseller, flew a plane, and ran a half marathon. But her most moving achievement was the devotion she gave to her children, Hugo and Eloise. She taught them to see her illness as an adventure, to make the most of every moment.
Deborah James: Bowelbabe In Her Own Words (BBC2) delivered an intravenous infusion of hope for anyone battling a serious illness
It is both disturbing and reassuring to know that her inspiring example will continue to inspire many thousands, even after her death.
A heartbreaking clip showed her waltzing with her son when he was nine years old and barely reaching her shoulder, and five years later when he towered over her. The chance to see her son grow taller than she was was one of the main benefits of her long, grueling treatments, she said.
Strictly speaking, she was a one woman, putting on a dance show at every opportunity. Even in the last weeks of her life, when nothing more could be done to save her, she left the hospital like a West End star giving another encore – stripping off her NHS dress to wear a dress with revealing sequins and launching a Celine Dion number. .
Chilling slang of the night
Amidst all the talk of OCGs (organized crime gangs), a chis (informant) and UCs (undercover cops) in The Hunt For Raoul Moat (ITV), there was bolder jargon: ‘a car with six wheels’. That’s a shotgun – and six cartridges.
That thirst for celebration made her an icon to millions, who drew on her strength, and she seemed inexhaustible. But her campaign was not all about resistance. As a former deputy director, she was also committed to educating people about the symptoms of colon cancer – warning signs many are too embarrassed to report to their GP.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the rambunctious podcast she recorded with her friends and fellow cancer patients, Lauren Mahon and Rachael Bland, alerted the entire country to those danger signals and helped save countless lives.
This Storyville documentary filled in some missing biographical background, showing her as a child gymnast who worked out 30 hours a week. That experience, she said, gave her “a real mental toughness.” You never end up with a fall. You got up again and carried on.’
Resilience was baked into her bones. And so was the hope: ‘We’ll meet again somewhere, one way or another, dancing,’ she told a BBC colleague at the end of her latest interview last year. “Until then, please, please, just enjoy life, because it is so precious.”
Real estate developer Sarah Beeny has happily announced that she is breast cancer free following her diagnosis last August.
Real estate developer Sarah Beeny has happily announced that she is breast cancer free following her diagnosis last August
When she returned with her New Life In The Country (Ch4), she made no mention of her illness and recovery
When she returned with her New Life In The Country (Ch4), she made no mention of her illness and recovery.
It may be that this episode was filmed before she had her first suspicion of the disease, but the absence of any acknowledgment made its presence more ominous, not less.
The show seemed trivial as a result. Her teenage boys learned how to chop wood with pocket knives and Sarah donated boxes of old books to charity.
Such small pleasures must of course seem like a blessing to her family, but without the full context of her recent cancer treatment, we couldn’t really put them in their proper perspective.