I have cancer but I'm feeling fine, says Aspel
This Is Your Life Big Red Book
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Michael Aspel

a career review

Eamonn Andrews

a brief biography

The Guardian 5 January 2004

I have cancer but I'm feeling fine, says Aspel

The television presenter and veteran broadcaster Michael Aspel, who caused surprise when he resigned as host of This Is Your Life three months ago, disclosed yesterday that he has cancer.

Aspel, 71, this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of his first BBC job. He said he had been found to have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma during a routine medical check. He had been treated with chemotherapy and told by his doctors that his life was not threatened.

Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a group of conditions affecting the lymphatic system which is part of the body's immune system. Often regarded as one of the more treatable forms of cancer, it progresses at variable rates.

Other well-known people to have been treated for it include the Liberal Democrats' deputy leader, Menzies Campbell, and the Radio 2 DJ Johnnie Walker.

Aspel told the News of the World: "Thankfully it's low-grade cancer. The strange thing about it is you don't feel unwell. Without that check-up I may not have found out about it at all because there are no symptoms. Although the condition hasn't gone, my doctor tells me my life isn't threatened by it. It just ticks away and needs monitoring. I have regular check-ups. I'm in a very positive frame of mind."

"After the initial shock, I was given leaflets. I've read up on the condition and I feel OK. It hasn't gone but it hasn't developed."

Aspel's first job with the BBC was as a radio actor in 1954, after he had worked as a publisher's teaboy and done national service.

He became a TV announcer in 1957 and was a newsreader from 1960 to 1968. The programmes he has presented include Family Favourites, Miss World, and Antiques Roadshow. He succeeded Eamonn Andrews as presenter of the long-running This Is Your Life in 1988.

Daily Mail 5 January 2004

I've had cancer for a year, says Michael Aspel


MICHAEL ASPEL has been secretly fighting cancer for more than a year, he revealed yesterday.

The veteran television presenter was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in autumn 2002, but told only family and close friends.

Yesterday, however, he said he had undergone three months of chemotherapy and insisted: 'I'm as fit as a fiddle.' Aspel, who will be 71 next Monday, must now have checks to monitor the disease, which attacks the immune system and kills 55 per cent of sufferers.

The presenter of Antiques Roadshow and This Is Your Life said: 'I was having a routine check-up when the doctors noticed there was something there, a slight swelling around the kidney area.'

'It's probably something a lot of people have and they just don't even realise, because I had no symptoms.'

'They decided to take a look and it was then I was told I had this form of cancer but that it was low grade.'

'I was shocked at first but I wasn't worried or frightened because everyone was just so calm about it. It's not life-threatening.'

'We have to keep an eye on it with regular check-ups but I'm fine, I'm perfectly well. It hasn't gone away, but it hasn't developed either.'

'I will probably remain well until I die of old age at 95 that's what they tell me anyway.' Yesterday, he posed for photographers outside the home he shares with his partner Irene Clark in Weybridge, Surrey, and said: 'Look at me, I'm fine. I don't know what all the fuss is about.' He said the three-month course with chemotherapy drugs was 'more unpleasant than the condition itself.'

He added: 'My hair didn't fall out.'

'There was nothing like that, just a slightly unpleasant taste in the mouth.'

'The cancer is dormant now. It's not doing anything and there's no reason why it should. If it starts to progress again then I will have to have another course of the drugs.' Aspel quit BBC1's This Is Your Life in September after 15 years presenting the show, which he took over from Eamonn Andrews.

'It had nothing to do with my condition,' he said yesterday. 'It was coincidental. I just thought 15 years was a nice round sum and simply wanted to stop.'

'I'm still presenting the Antiques Roadshow and am as fit as a fiddle.'

Aspel began his career as a newsreader, moving on to become a children's presenter on Crackerjack and a chatshow host before taking over This Is Your Life in 1988.

Off-screen, he has suffered a series of personal tragedies. His brother Alan was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 43.

In 1989, one of his sons, Greg, died from cancer at 29. Another, James, died at three days old and a third, Patrick, was born with cerebral palsy.

Aspel himself had surgery in 1985 for a tumour in his bladder, which turned out to be benign. And in 1991 he revealed how he had undergone surgery to have kidney stones removed on more than one occasion.

'I have wonky kidneys and it's fair to say my family could have made a necklace out of all the bits of rockery that have come out of my body,' he said.

His love life has also been turbulent.

He has been married twice and is a father of seven. In 1994 he left his second wife, ex-EastEnders actress Lizzie Power, for Miss Clark, a former production assistant on This Is Your Life.

Around 8,600 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma every year.

The number of cases is rising by 4 per cent a year, although doctors do not know exactly why.

The cancer affects the lymph nodes.

Symptoms include large painless lumps in places such as the neck, under the arm and the groin.