Dame Deborah James: BBC recounts journalist’s cancer battle in Bowelbabe: In Her Own Words documentary

Dame Deborah James is seen speaking about her cancer diagnosis in a new BBC documentary set to air this spring

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A new BBC documentary is set to explore the last five years of Dame Deborah James’ life after she was diagnosed with cancer.

The social media star, who was also known as ‘Bowelbabe’ was just 40, when she passed away in June 2022.

The BBC are set to air a one off film recounting the last month’s of her life as she continued her cancer campaign work through social media and strove to educate and support listeners on her podcast ‘You, Me and the Big C’.

Bowel cancer checks are at a record high after Dame Deborah James’ death Bowel cancer checks are at a record high after Dame Deborah James’ death
Bowel cancer checks are at a record high after Dame Deborah James’ death

In the months leading up to Deborah’s death, she released bestselling book F*** You Cancer and continued to establish the Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK, which raised more than £7 million.

In May 2022, Deborah shared online that she was moving to end-of-life care. Due to her continued efforts to raise money and awareness for those living with bowel cancer, Deborah was made a Dame by Prince William in May 2022.

Dressed in a white dress with freshly painted red nails, she shared tea and champagne with the Prince as he presented her with her Damehood in her parents’ garden.

She took to her Instagram to announce the news, writing: “Prince William actually came to our family house today!! I am utterly honoured that he joined us for afternoon tea and champagne”.

Deborah’s husband, Sebastien Bowen, recently told The Times that the Duke of Cambridge "felt like a friend" when he visited the family for tea in May.

BBC documentary Bowelbabe: In Her Own Words’ is set to debut this spring. The documentary will feature raw and honest footage of Deborah talking about her diagnoses, her treatment and will also include heartwarming, never-before-seen footage. It will also lift the lid on the reality of living with bowel cancer and what it was like for her husband, her children and those who were close to her.

Lucie Kon, Commissioning Editor, BBC Storyville said:  “Deborah worked with us on this film right up until the last few weeks of her life and was adamant that it was finished even though she wouldn’t be around to see it through”.

Despite the seriousness of the topic Lucie revealed that "It’s an incredibly powerful and beautiful piece – emotional, intimate and unique. With enormous warmth and good humour, the documentary echoes the powerful, honest and direct way that Deborah communicated, as if she were talking to a friend or confidant."