Few “Big Brother” contestants captured the attention of Britain’s television audiences like Jade Goody. She made her first appearance on Season 3 of the series where she drew criticism for her behavior, including a streak through the house, intoxication, and sex with housemate PJ Ellis. Pilloried by the press, Goody parlayed her popularity with viewers into appearances on other reality series, which led to a return to “Big Brother” with her participation in Season 5 of the celebrity edition. However, racially charged comments made at the expense of South Asian housemate Shilpa Shetty largely undid the good will generated by her TV appearances and product endorsements.
Goody apologized for her behavior and seemed to attempt to reframe the perception of her as racist by appearing on “Bigg Boss 2,” the Indian version of “Big Brother.” While participating in the series, Goody was informed that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer. She returned to the U.K. and began treatment, but the disease spread quickly and was deemed terminal.
News of Goody’s diagnosis was credited with inspiring a surge in U.K. women seeking cervical cancer screenings in 2009, as well as a review of the National Health Services policy of screening for the disease after the age of 25. The British press, which had praised and damned Goody with equal fervor, again turned its attention to her in her final days: media coverage of her death at the age of 27 on March 22, 2009, was both extensive and laden with praise.