03 Mar 2023
From living with incurable bowel cancer, to Damehood, to her untimely death – Bowelbabe: In Her Own Words details the last extraordinary five years of cancer campaigner Dame Deborah James’s life on film.
Known by many as her online persona Bowelbabe, the former deputy head teacher amassed a huge social media following. Filmed with Deborah in the last months of her life, she talks frankly about her diagnosis, treatment and shares many personal moments whilst dancing and documenting what the reality of living with bowel cancer was really like for her and those closest to her.
This 1 x 80’ archive-based documentary features never seen before mobile phone footage, Deborah’s collection of Tik Tok videos, Instagram posts, You Me and the Big C podcasts, family videos and Deborah’s voice notes.
Deborah was made a Dame by Prince William in May 2022. Before her death in June 2022 she worked to establish The Bowelbabe Fund for Cancer Research UK which raised more than £7million. The Fund will support causes and projects that Deborah was passionate about, including working with others such as the Institute of Cancer Research, The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Bowel Cancer UK.
Lucie Kon, Commissioning Editor, BBC Storyville says: “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. 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 confidante.”
BowelBabe: In Her Own Words is a 1 x 80’ for BBC Two and iPlayer. It was commissioned by Lucie Kon, BBC Storyville. Made by Brook Lapping, part of Zinc Media, it was Executive Produced by Emma Hindley in her former role at the company. The Director was Sara Hardy and the Editor, Gwyn Jones.