My mum and I decided to give in to all the press attention and watch Jade’s wedding on Living. It turned out to be an extremely bittersweet couple of hours. Mixed in between the snatches of the Jade of old (the way she insisted that everyone wear dressing gowns for breakfast and the warning to Jack to "Watch my make-up!" when he kissed her, for instance) was this other Jade, the terminally ill Jade. The Jade who’s lost her hair due to chemotherapy. The Jade who is wheeled around by a nurse. The Jade who is taking long bouts of rest. The Jade who is trying to smile through the pain. The Jade who is dying before our eyes.
At the wedding breakfast, the tearful bride told her guests: "Thank you everybody that’s in here. I’m so proud to see everybody’s faces. And hopefully, in a few years’ time, I can have a blessing and we’ll all be here again so everyone can cross their fingers and a miracle might happen." What can I say to that except this: when it comes to Living TV, McDreamy and McSteamy are no match for the phenomenon that is Jade Goody.
Derek Shepherd (McDreamy) and Mark Sloan (McSteamy) may be handsome, philandering doctors on Grey’s Anatomy, one of America’s most popular shows, but Jade is the reality TV star who was made on camera and is dying on camera. Channel 4 introduced her to the viewing public via Big Brother in 2002, but Living TV built on the Jade brand with a series of shows including: Jade’s Salon, Just Jade, Jade’s P.A. Living With Jade, The Next Chapter and recently, Jade: Bride To Be and Jade’s Wedding. The wedding to Jack Tweed, much-publicised and sold to highest bidder OK!, aired on Living and delivered huge ratings.
Split into two parts, with a two-hour special covering the wedding and the reception after, Bride To Be pulled in 789,000 for the digital broadcaster with Jade’s Wedding garnering 771,000 viewers. As these two shows may be the last time Jade Goody is seen on TV, the record viewing figures for Living TV reflect that sad situation.
Even before the tragic news broke that her cancer was terminal, a quick glance at Living TV’s viewing figures tells you all you need to know about Jade’s pulling-power. Cast your mind back a couple of months to when I sounded off about Lipstick Jungle
. Living launched its biggest ever marketing campaign to support its much-hyped new US acquisition. Yet for all that activity, the return was just 200,000 viewers (including a very bored yours truly).
But last month, Living’s Jade – a show documenting her cancer battle – attracted 709,000 at 9pm. That programme’s result was a massive 366% up on the channel’s slot average for last year of 152,000 viewers. Living’s previously highest-rated show was the finale of America’s Next Top Model in 2007, which achieved a total audience (including Living +1) of 859,000. But of course, Jade has easily surpassed that. It was inevitable really – such is the interest in the ill-fated mum-of-two. It’s got to the point where I wonder what the broadcaster will do post-Jade…
There was only one week to put the wedding together. One week to find a wedding gown big enough to accommodate the pouch that contains the pump which supplies Jade’s medication. Time was of the essence…for obvious reasons. "That vicar looks funny," said my mum as he helped the pair choose vows. Given a choice between ‘everlasting’ and ‘eternal’, Jade, ever frank, asked: "Which is better cos I’m dying?" Heartbreaking stuff. The cancer-stricken star turned down the offer of a wig for her big day. "I’m not embarrassed of my head so no, I’m not wearing a wig," she stated. In the event, she didn’t need a wig; she looked absolutely beautiful. Beaming, Jade managed the walk down the aisle, accompanied by her 70-year-old grandfather John Craddock, who gave her away.
It was just like any other wedding but also, unlike any other wedding: a swanky venue (Down Hall Country Hotel in Essex); a reception (held in a marquee in the grounds of Down Hall); music (Max Clifford’s wedding gift of opera singers were disguised as hotel staff; they serenaded the party with Dean Martin’s That’s Amore and Puccini’s Nessun Dorma. Then pop group Sugababes turned up); family (no mistaking Jackiey Budden, Jade’s mum) and attendees (including Richard and Judy, singer Jamelia, ex Blue boyband member Antony Costa, Max Clifford and Paul O’Grady).
The segment I personally found almost unspeakably poignant came courtesy of Jade’s photographers. Instead of a speech, they presented a montage of pictures of the bride and groom taken in happier – and in Jade’s case, healthier – times. Accompanied by Kylie and Jason’s Especially For You, the snapshots showed a smiling, laughing girl, with a full head of hair, frolicking with the man she loves. A girl with not a care in the world – the Jade of yesteryear. The Jade of today, noticeably emotional looking at memories past, wiped tears away. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to be affected by that. Too ill for a honeymoon, her photographers obliged by super-imposing pictures of the newly-weds against some of the world’s best known tourist spots: Egypt’s pyramids, America’s Las Vegas, France’s Eiffel Tower, Australia’s Sydney Opera House…
This time, the music was Grease’s We Go Together sung by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John; bright and light-hearted, it was the perfect pick-me-up. The night ended with Jack and Jade watching the fireworks with her sons Jack and Freddie.
By the time Living aired Jade’s Wedding, she’d been back in hospital, confronted by a crazed woman with a hammer, received a phone call from Michael "This is it. This is it!" Jackson and returned home, probably to die. Little wonder there’s such fascination with her life…
* Did you watch the wedding on Living? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts by selecting the ‘add a comment’ button.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – The fact that Comic Relief raised a record-breaking £57 million, with more donations expected, in a time of recession. The £57,809,938 reached by the end of the show easily beat the record £40.5 million set in 2007. It’s the most money ever raised in the 21-year history of Red Nose Day. We Brits have our hearts in the right place. Thanks to us, projects here in the UK and in Africa will benefit.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – Is there anywhere on my EPG safe from Messers Horne and Corden? I’m getting sick of the sight of them – I swear the only show I haven’t seen them on is News At Ten. They’re everywhere! I still think that, outside of Gavin and Stacey, they are sooooooooo overrated.