Frail Deborah James asked pal to sneak into hospital before death

Deborah James: Footage shows star’s final days

Emma Campbell, 53, friend to Dame Deborah James, has recalled the heart-breaking final time she saw her in hospital in April last year.

The late You, Me and the Big C star is said to have begged her to sneak in, pleading “try if you can”.

At the time only immediate family were allowed to visit her, which included her parents, siblings, children and husband.

But with what she called “rebellious hope”, Deborah was always defiant.

Emma managed to get in and recalled to this week’s Radio Times: “Despite her physical frailty she looked incredible. It was typical Debs.”

She continued: “Her hair was done, she had a silk pillow behind her – only Debs could be that ill and glow radiantly.”

When Emma left, there was no final goodbye, something neither of them could face.

She added: “You couldn’t go there.”

Soon after Deborah made an announcement on social media explaining that she was receiving hospice care – which inspired millions in donations for her charity Bowelbabe.

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It was set up to fund cancer research and has since raised a staggering £11.3 million.

Deborah was awarded a Damehood in May last year by Prince William at her home in Surrey.

She received it for her efforts and work raising awareness of the disease.

She closely documented her experience both on social media and on her podcast – You, Me and the Big C.

Deborah, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, died in June, aged 40, following a five-year battle with bowel cancer.

She left behind her spouse Sebastian Bowen and two children.

The BBC have since commissioned a special archived based feature documentary honouring her life.

It will look back on how she lived with bowel cancer to then receiving her damehood and untimely death – sharing some exclusive never seen before footage.

Read the full interview in this week’s Radio Times – out now.

The show will air on April 17 on BBC2.

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