Skip to content

The TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has revealed he has terminal cancer, saying he hopes sharing his diagnosis will inspire others to “make the most of every day”.

The 48-year-old, who presents Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun and the BBC’s Escape to the Country, said he had lung cancer that had spread to his brain, and that he did not know how much time he had left to live.

Irwin said the first warning sign of his illness came during filming of A Place in the Sun in August 2020 in Italy, when his vision became blurry while driving. “Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live,” he told Hello magazine.

“I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was on her own pretty much. That was devastating. All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.”

There had been speculation recently after Irwin, who has a three-year-old son, Rex, and two-year-old twins, Rafa and Cormac, with his wife, Jessica, was absent from the show and his appearance had changed when he returned this summer.

He said: “It’s got to the point now where it feels like I’m carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back.

“I hope that by shaking that monkey off I might inspire people who are living with life-limiting prospects to make the most of every day, to help them see that you can live a positive life, even though you are dying.

“One day, this is going to catch up with me, but I’m doing everything I can to hold that day off for as long as possible.

“I owe that to Jess and our boys. Some people in my position have bucket lists, but I just want us to do as much as we can as a family.”

Irwin said he continued to work as much as possible and was taking an attitude “that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it”.

He said he wanted to make memories for his family because “my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart”.

Irwin is also encouraging people to take out life insurance, saying it has been of comfort to him that when he dies his wife and children will be in a house that is fully paid off and that there will be some money in the bank for them.

PA Media contributed to this report