Podcaster Deborah James divides fans by chopping down Christmas tree

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James divides fans by revealing her husband stripped the branches from the base of their stunning 14 ft Christmas tree after it ‘died’ over festive period

  • Deborah James, 38, revealed yesterday she has chopped down Christmas tree
  • Presenter shared snaps with followers showing the trunk stripped of branches 
  • Said husband had suggested he ‘trim a few branches’ from the tree after it ‘died’
  • Revealed she will keep up rest of her decorations until epiphany on 6 January 
  • Comes as mother-of-two recovers from surgery amid her fight against cancer 

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James has divided fans after she chopped down her 14ft Christmas tree days after celebrating.   

Mother-of-two Deborah, 38, from London, who presents the Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’, said on Instagram that her husband had suggested ‘trimming a few branches’ from the enormous tree after it ‘died’ over Christmas.  

She went on to reveal her family had chopped down the tree, adding: ‘The rest of the decorations will stay until epiphany and I’ll make a 13 jam tart to make up for it.’

Social media users said they were stunned by the radical removal of the tree, with one commenting: ‘I don’t understand why you’ve cut your lovely tree down early!?’  

BBC podcast presenter Deborah James, 38, from London has divided fans after she chopped down her 14ft Christmas tree days after celebrating (left, before, and right, after) 

Deborah shared the snap of her stripped down tree, along with a picture of her posing in front of the fully decorated ornament, with her 128k followers yesterday.

She commented: ‘This year we had the most beautiful Christmas tree (I’m bias!). 

‘I didn’t choose it – I was too ill after my operation and so my husband and kids chose it.

‘My only instruction was go big. 14ft later they delivered! Loved decorating it, photo shooting in front of it, walking into my kitchen and seeing it! 

The mother-of-two, who presents the Radio 5 Live podcast ‘You, me and the Big C’, said on Instagram that her husband had suggested ‘trimming a few branches’ from the enormous tree after it ‘died’ over Christmas

‘It died! My husband suggested he should trim it tonight. Only a few branches he said.’

But her followers were stunned by the move, with one commenting: ‘If 2020 were a Christmas tree.

Another bemused fan wrote: ‘I agree, I’ve never seen anyone cut up a tree. Bound to have been a real mess on the floor. Was it too big to get out? Or what was the purpose?’ 

A third wrote: ‘That is (was) a beautiful tree! One hell of a ‘trim’ though.’ 

Social media users were left divided by the podcaster’s choice, with some saying they ‘didn’t understand’ the move 

But others were more understanding of the move, with one commenting: ‘Mine died too! Took it down on Boxing Day. 

‘Only had it for 10 days! It’s very 2020.’

Deborah and her family celebrated the holiday as she recovers from surgery after doctors discovered new signs of her bowel cancer.

She has since revealed the disease is ‘stable’ thanks to a suite of ground-breaking drugs, pioneered by Dutch cancer researcher René Bernards, which have just been approved for use across the NHS. 

Earlier this month, BBC podcast presenter Deborah said she’s ‘putting her hope in science’ after new combination of drugs ‘saved her life’

Appearing on Lorraine earlier this month, the podcaster revealed she’s feeling ‘delicate’ after Monday’s surgery, but became emotional as she declared she’s ‘living when she shouldn’t be’ and that she’s ‘riding on the wings of science’.   

The presenter has a specific type of bowel cancer called BRAF mutation, and in 2012 met Bernards in the Netherlands, who has just been given the green light to start a new clinical trial, the Beacon Trial. 

She told her oncologist fought ‘tooth and nail’ for her to receive compassionate use of the drugs, which include Braftovi, and the mother has been taking the non-chemotherapy drugs since August last year.   

She said: ‘Essentially I’m living when I shouldn’t be living and it’s made me very emotional to get this approved for others.’ 

The host of the BBC’s You, Me And The Big C podcast, had earlier said the operation ‘went well’ and she had been released from hospital 

 While there are no longer signs of the disease, Deborah admitted she felt drained after her procedure.  

Despite the return of her cancer – which had already required operations to remove 15 tumours and 24 rounds of chemotherapy plus radiotherapy – she has set her sights on a trio of achievements next year: to run the London Marathon again, celebrate her 40th birthday and reach the five-year mark of living with cancer. 

The cancer first reappeared in May, when two cancerous lymph nodes were removed. The latest is in a third node.

Approval by drugs regulators means about 1,400 advanced bowel cancer patients will now get the Braftovi combination. Deborah said it would bring hope to thousands.


Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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