Dame Deborah James’s extraordinary life captured in new BBC documentary - when will it be shown on TV?

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
James, who received damehood from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, tragically died from cancer in June last year

Dame Deborah James’s devastating cancer journey is set to be told through a new and moving BBC documentary. The brave campaigner and journalist sadly died in June last year at the age of 40 after a long battle with stage four bowel cancer. She left behind her husband Sebastien Bowen and two children.

Her family announced her death in a post on her Instagram page, saying: "We are deeply saddened to announce the death of Dame Deborah James; the most amazing wife, daughter, sister, mummy.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Deborah, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, worked as a teacher before becoming a newspaper columnist In June 2021, after undergoing multiple treatments, James said her cancer was moving in "the wrong direction" and that the drugs she was taking were no longer effective.

In the last month of her life, Deborah declared on social media she was receiving end-of-life treatment at her home in Surrey. After the post was published, the mum-of-two received a generous donation of £3 million from her followers for her campaign, Bowelbabe.

According to the BBC, the documentary features clips and words from her social media pages including voice notes, TikTok and Instagram posts and never-before-seen phone footage and home videos, which she shared with her friends and family.

A close friend of Debroah said the documentary captures her warm and loving spirit.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“The film really captures Debs so perfectly, her spirit, her life force and her overwhelming desire to ‘kick the cancer can down the road’, not just for herself but for everyone living with cancer.

“It’s a wonderful reminder of her infectious love of life, she taught me and so many others what it means to truly ‘live’.”

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 | Instagram: @bowelbabe

The documentary, which will air on BBC Two on Monday April 17 at 9pm, ends on a poignant clip from her last BBC podcast.

She tells listeners: “It’s amazing how much you wish for another sunset or another cuddle. You can’t leave things until tomorrow, because there might not be a tomorrow.

“Please enjoy life because it’s so precious. All I want right now is more time and more life.  Oh and ‘check your poo’, I can’t leave on any other words than ‘check your poo’.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.