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Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive

TVMucho Show of the week

Mon, October 21st, 2019

Thursday 10pm – 11.05pm, Channel 5

In 2017 former Breakfast TV host Bill Turnbull altruistically took part in the Channel 4 Stand Up to Cancer edition of the The Great British Bake Off. He, and other celebrities sought to raise awareness and raise funds for cancer charities. In a terrible irony, in November of that year, Bill was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.

This documentary follows Bill’s battle with the disease, starting shortly after his first sessions of gruelling chemotherapy. Agreeing to film and present his journey he states he wanted “to give people a picture of what it’s like” and “A few years ago, cancer was a subject nobody wanted to go near or talk about. And I’m a big believer in shining a light on it actually, a bit like cockroaches, if you shine a light then they run away”. Further adding “And we need to talk about it more, because people who’ve got it need to talk about it. So I thought it would be useful to show people what it’s like to be on that journey, and show what that journey consists of”.

It is a deeply personal insight into the Classic FM’s presenters battle, he reveals the lengths to which he is going to ease his pain. Detailing how he has changed his diet to a much healthier one, giving up sugar and processed meats – although he does admit to one bacon sandwich a month as he needs something to look forward to. He also confesses to breaking the law and trying cannabis oil, which has him in fits of giggles! This is part of his approach at trying unconventional methods, including cannabis therapy – which he believes needs to be discussed more in the UK.

The documentary explores the cannabis oil issue, Bill revealing it is legal in 20 advanced, western countries and has medicinely proven qualities for a wide range of applications. Yet in the UK can land you with a 14 year prison sentence. The veteran journalist brings this issue to the screen in hope of pushing the UK parliament to review their position and help sick people.

Despite his genial nature, he is clearly finding the experience hard, and life difficult. But the programme shows some of his happier times with his wife Sesi and their three children. But despite the optimism and love from his family, a blood test result from his Doctor undoes all the positivity he is shown.

A humbling and sad story about one of the UK’s most popular and caring public figures, which reveals the harsh reality of an illness which affects so many people worldwide.


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