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  Jade Cerisa Lorraine Goody (1981–2009), by Eamonn McCabe, 2001 Jade Cerisa Lorraine Goody (1981–2009), by Eamonn McCabe, 2001
Goody, Jade Cerisa Lorraine (1981–2009), television contestant and celebrity, was born on 5 June 1981 at King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London, the daughter of Andrew Robert Goody (1963–2005) and Jacqueline Patricia (Jackiey) Budden (b. 1958). Her father was a pimp, heroin addict, and habitual criminal who served several prison sentences. He and Jade's mother split up when she was two years old, apparently because Andrew Goody was storing firearms under his daughter's cot. He died of a drug overdose in 2005. Jackiey Budden sustained severe injuries in a motorbike accident when Goody was five years old, leaving her blind in one eye and with a paralysed arm. She also took to drugs, developing an addiction to crack cocaine, and Jade grew up in a dysfunctional household, unloved and uncared for, where she did the cooking and cleaning. She was heard to say on many occasions that ‘I never had a childhood really’ (The Times, 23 March 2009).

Goody was educated at Bacon's College, Rotherhithe, where she was often in trouble and where she evidently learned very little. The school later defended itself from criticism that it was in some manner responsible for Goody's lack of general knowledge. On leaving school she became a dental nurse. By 2002 she was living in a flat in Bermondsey with her physically abusive boyfriend and her mother, both of whom were drug addicts. She had previously been evicted from a council flat in Rotherhithe for unpaid rent and was being prosecuted for unpaid council tax bills. It was at this point that she auditioned to appear in the third series of Channel 4's enormously popular television programme Big Brother, hoping to earn some money to pay off her debts.

Big Brother brought together a variety of mainly young men and women from diverse backgrounds to live together for several weeks in the Big Brother house, in essence a large television studio, where they were instructed by an Orwellian voice, ‘Big Brother’, to perform various (sometimes ludicrous) tasks, and where every aspect of their lives together was filmed and broadcast for the delectation of a mass audience. The residents' habits and interactions would, it was intended, lead both to petty controversies and frictions and to amorous encounters. At the end of each week the television audience was invited to vote for the ejection of one of two inmates (previously nominated by their fellow inmates) until, at the climax, a ‘winner’ emerged from the house, blinking in a thousand flashes of press photography. Known by the generic term ‘reality TV’, in that the cameras probed every aspect of daily life inside the house, in fact it bore no relation whatsoever to daily reality as lived in Britain in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Goody's residency in the Big Brother house in 2002 set the pattern for the rest of her short life. At first she was vilified by the popular press, which always covered the programme extensively, for her ignorance, slovenliness, and vulgarity. Then, as the public was whipped up into a fervour of denunciation, her initial accusers went into reverse and she was rebranded by the press as the perky and plucky victim of an appalling upbringing. She had gained a lurid fascination for the British public and, though finishing only fourth among the residents, emerged as the star.

Goody lived the rest of her life under the constant attention of the mass media. She revelled in this and plainly understood the symbiotic relationship she had with popular magazines, newspapers, and television, in which ‘they build you up to knock you down’ (The Times, 23 March 2009). To keep herself in the public eye she opened her own beauty salon in Hertford called Ugly's, released fitness films on DVD, launched her own branded perfume, starred in television programmes about her life including What Jade Goody Did Next and two series, Jade's Salon and Just Jade, and published an autobiography. She had achieved little in her life up to that point, but the public appetite for her products, style, and life story made her a millionaire several times over. She could always be relied upon to say or do something inappropriate, though usually comical. In 2006 she retired from the London marathon after a creditable twenty-one miles, saying, ‘I don't really understand miles. I didn't actually know how far it was going to be’. Before the race she had confessed that her training regime had amounted to ‘eating curry, Chinese and drinking’ (‘Jade's Marathon Hell’, Sky Showbiz, 24 April 2006).

Goody had two sons, Bobby Jack (b. 2003) and Freddie (b. 2004), from a three-year relationship with Jeffrey Carl (Jeff) Brazier (b. 1979), a former Leyton Orient footballer and an occasional television presenter who had also appeared in reality TV shows. He was the son of Stephen Faldo, the skipper of The Marchioness, the pleasure boat which sank in the Thames in 1989. Goody also had a brief relationship in 2005 with the footballer Ryan Lee Amoo (b. 1983), who played for Northampton Town.

In 2007 Goody agreed to re-enter the Big Brother house for a ‘celebrity’ version of the show, a mark in itself of her new status. Once again her behaviour resulted in the same cycle of vilification and redemption. She abused another of the celebrity residents, the Indian film actress Shilpa Shetty, calling her ‘Shilpa Poppadum’ and other names. It looked like a case of racism, and more than fifty thousand public complaints were lodged. She was ejected from the house by the overwhelming votes of the viewers and though she apologized profusely and denied that she was a racist it seemed that she would fade into obscurity. An atoning trip to India and a campaign to re-establish her reputation masterminded by the publicist Max Clifford, complete with yet another volume of autobiography, Jade: Catch a Falling Star (2008), a second perfume, called Controversial, and many tearful interviews, once more evoked the sympathies of her public. She even appeared in pantomime at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln, as the wicked queen in Snow White. It was a measure of her rehabilitation that she was invited to appear on the Indian version of Big Brother, Bigg Boss, in 2008. It was there in August 2008 that she was told that medical tests taken before she left Britain had revealed that she had cervical cancer. Six years before a cervical smear test had revealed abnormal cells.

Goody returned to Britain and the last months of her life were punctuated by bulletins about her condition and treatments, and her chances of survival. By early February 2009 it was confirmed that cancer had spread to her liver, bowel, and groin and was untreatable: she had only weeks to live. Her imminent death, like her life, became an object of public interest and scrutiny. She rose to the challenge of dying well and comported herself with a final dignity. By allowing her condition to become widely known she encouraged women to request screening for cervical cancer, and the National Health Service reported a surge in the numbers being tested in the months before and after her death, reversing a downward trend in screening in the first years of the new century. A campaign was begun to bring down the age of initial screening in England from twenty-five to twenty.

On 22 February 2009 Goody married Jack Andrew Tweed (b. 1987), at Down Hall Country House Hotel, near Hatfield Heath, Essex. He was the son of Andrew Lewis Tweed, electrician. Tweed, a model and self-styled ‘promoter’, had joined Goody and her mother in the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2007 where he had been, if anything, even more abusive of Shilpa Shetty. His relationship with Goody had ended and resumed on several occasions. Tweed was living with Goody when, in September 2008, he was imprisoned for causing actual bodily harm to a sixteen-year-old boy. After four months in prison he was released and the terms of his curfew under electronic monitoring were temporarily suspended by the justice secretary, Jack Straw, so that the couple could spend their wedding night together. Goody negotiated a fee of £700,000 for the exclusive photographic rights to the ceremony with OK! magazine in order that her sons should be financially secure after her death. Two weeks later, on 7 March, Goody and her children were christened together in a service in the chapel at the Royal Marsden Hospital where she was a patient.

Goody died at her home, 2 Barns Court, Pick Hill, Waltham Abbey, Essex, on 22 March 2009. Tributes were paid to her by, among many others, the prime minister, Gordon Brown (who, when chancellor of the exchequer and on a visit to India, had condemned Celebrity Big Brother for the insult to Shilpa Shetty), the leader of the opposition, David Cameron, and the archbishop of Canterbury. Her funeral service was held on 4 April 2009 at St John's Anglican Church, Buckhurst Hill, Essex. Her funeral cortège, which numbered twenty-one cars led by a vintage Rolls-Royce hearse, took four hours to make its way from Bermondsey along streets whose residents had come out to pay their respects. Thousands more came to follow the private service on screens erected outside the church; the funeral was also broadcast live on Sky News. She was buried in Epping Forest near her home. She was survived by her sons, whose full custody she left to Jeff Brazier. He took out a privacy order banning any unauthorized images of the boys to ensure they would be left alone by the mass media.

Jade Goody died as she had lived for the last seven years of her life, in the customary eye of the cameras. Her weaknesses of character and petty-mindedness had made her an object of derision; her background and her illness had evoked a countervailing sympathy and compassion. She was confected by the media who found that she could sell newspapers and magazines. Goody, for her part, loved the attention that she had lacked as a child and knew that infamy was the price she paid for riches. In her disrupted family life, defective education, and absence of personal restraint, she embodied many of the social themes of her age. The widespread fascination with her also betrayed the defects of an often vacuous and mean-spirited popular culture. Yet she died with dignity, planning for the future of her children, and contributed to public awareness of cancer and its prevention. In the phrase of the age, she was a celebrity for being a celebrity, but her life had meaning in its end.

Lawrence Goldman

Sources  

J. Goody, Jade: my autobiography (2006) · N. Simpson, Jade: story of a survivor (2006) · J. Goody, Jade: catch a falling star (2008) · J. Goody, Jade: fighting to the end : my autobiography, 1981–2009 (2009) · J. Goody, Jade: forever in my heart : the story of my battle against cancer (2009) · The Guardian (18 Feb 2009); (23 March 2009); (24 March 2009) · The Times (23 March 2009) · The Independent (23 March 2009) · The Observer (5 April 2009) · b. cert. · m. cert. · d. cert.

Archives  

 

FILM

 

BFI NFTVA, ‘Jade's legacy’, Tonight with Trevor McDonald, F. Foster (reporter), ITV1, 9 March 2009 · BFI NFTVA, documentary footage · BFI NFTVA, light entertainment footage


Likenesses  

photographs, 1996–2009, Rex Features, London · photographs, 2000–08, Photoshot, London · photographs, 2000–09, Getty Images, London · E. McCabe, photograph, 2001, priv. coll. [see illus.] · photographs, 2002–9, PA Images, London · obituary photographs · photographs, repro. in J. Goody, Jade: my autobiography (2006) · photographs, repro. in N. Simpson, Jade (2006) · photographs, repro. in J. Goody, Jade: catch a falling star (2008) · photographs, repro. in J. Goody, Jade: fighting to the end (2009) · photographs, repro. in J. Goody, Jade: forever in my heart (2009) · photographs, Camera Press, London

Wealth at death  

£394,692: probate, 25 Nov 2011, CGPLA Eng. & Wales