Reality TV star Jade Goody (27) dies after battle with cancer


Former reality television star Jade Goody has died at the age of 27 following a battle with cervical cancer.

Goody died overnight at her home in Essex.

"Jade died at 3.55 a.m. this morning," her tearful mother Jackiey Budden told reporters outside the house. "Family and friends would like privacy at last."

By endlessly pouring over every detail of Goody's losing battle with the disease, tabloid newspapers, broadsheets, gossip magazines and broadcasters have been accused of obsessing over someone who is famous for little more than being famous.

Even British prime minister Gordon Brown, who had commented on her illness, joined the tributes that poured in after her death, saying his thoughts went out to her family.

"I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Jade Goody's death," he said in a statement. "She was a courageous woman both in life and death and the whole country have admired her determination to provide a bright future for her children."

Conservative leader David Cameron said: “I was very sorry to hear the sad news about Jade. Her brave fight has raised awareness of this terrible disease and her legacy will be to save the lives of more young women in the future.

“My thoughts are with her family and particularly her two young sons at this terrible time.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said of Goody: “What she did in terms of her dying is very brave and very challenging because it’s about different kinds of making peace. We ought to honour that.”

“I don’t think there was any way, sadly, in which she could avoid the public attention. But I think it was used not to aggrandise her but to tell people what mattered to her and say something about the values that she tried to live with at the end of her life.

“If in her earlier career it was all about her then I think at the end it was about something else.”

Goody was unknown before she appeared on the TV programme Big Brotherin 2002 and has since ridden the rollercoaster of instant fame to become the show's best-known participant.

Initially ridiculed for her apparent lack of education - she thought Saddam Hussein was a boxer and a ferret was a bird - and criticised for her behaviour towards fellow competitors, she gradually won the public over with a straight-talking style.

She went on to become a regular in gossip magazines, wrote an autobiography and launched her own perfume, but her popularity sank in 2007 after racially charged tirades against Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty in Celebrity Big Brother.

It was during an appearance on an Indian version of Big Brotherin August last year that she learned that she had cervical cancer. She dropped out of the show to return to Britain for treatment and later learned the cancer was terminal.

Goody's decision to die in the public gaze, in order to earn as much money as possible for her two sons, has seen her popularity broadly restored.

Bald from chemotherapy, she lived out her last days in the public glare, with media commentators praising her dignity and analysing her role in modern British culture.

Goody wed Jack Tweed away from the public gaze at a country hotel northeast of London last month. Photo and film rights were sold for a reported £1 million.

The rights money earned from the wedding will be set aside for her two young boys from a previous relationship.

Her publicist Max Clifford said she would "be remembered as a young girl who has, and who will, save an awful lot of lives.

"She was a very, very brave girl," he said in a statement to media. "And she faced her death in the way she faced her whole life - full on, with a lot of courage."

Cancer charities said her public battle against the disease, which saw her posing for photos despite losing her hair through chemotherapy, had encouraged thousands of women to seek prevention advice.

"She has done a great public service by raising awareness of the importance of screening during her last few months of life," said Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK.

The intense coverage of her dying days, just like her rise to fame, has divided the British public.

"When I was a child, cancer was not on the agenda and people wouldn't talk about it," said Maggie Fletcher (63), from Bermondsey in southeast London where Goody was brought up.

"Because of Jade, women now go for regular tests and that's a good thing. I think she has done much better than every campaign of the government could have."

But a caretaker at her former primary school, who declined to be named, said he did not agree with all the publicity.

"Why a dying woman makes front page news, I can't understand," he said.