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Jonnie Irwin, A Place in the Sun presenter, dies aged 50

TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has died of cancer, aged 50.

Irwin was best known as the presenter of Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun, in which he helped British property hunters find homes abroad.

The news of his death was announced on Friday (2 February) on the presenter’s Instagram account.

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of Jonnie’s passing. A truly remarkable soul, he fought bravely against cancer with unwavering strength and courage. Jonnie touched the lives of so many with his kindness, warmth, and infectious spirit,” the post read alongside a photo of Irwin and his wife Jessica Holmes.

“At this time, we kindly ask for the privacy of Jonnie’s family as they navigate through this profound loss. Their grief is immeasurable, and your thoughts, prayers, and support are deeply appreciated.

“As we remember the beautiful moments shared with Jonnie, let us celebrate a life well-lived and a legacy that will forever be etched in our hearts. Jonnie may be gone from our sight, but his love, laughter, and memories will live on.

“Rest in peace, dear Jonnie. You will be dearly missed, but never forgotten.”

Irwin joined A Place in the Sun in 2004 and presented alongside Jasmine Harman, filming over 200 episodes together.

On Instagram, Harman wrote that her “heart is broken” following the announcement.

A property and business consultant by trade, Irwin also presented on TV series including the BBC’s Escape to the Country and To Buy or Not to Buy, as well as Dream Lives for Sale and The Renovation Game on Channel 4.

On 13 November 2022, Irwin revealed to the public that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer back in 2020. After initially keeping his illness private, the presenter said he decided to speak publicly after being told the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain.

“It’s got to the point now where it feels like I’m carrying a dirty secret, it’s become a monkey on my back,” he said.

Irwin presenting Channel 4’s ‘A Place in the Sun’ (Channel 4)
Irwin presenting Channel 4’s ‘A Place in the Sun’ (Channel 4)

“I hope that by shaking that monkey off I might inspire people who are living with life-limiting prospects to make the most of every day, to help them see that you can live a positive life, even though you are dying.”

In the months before his death, Irwin had been widely praised for raising awareness of his terminal illness, and for his candid interviews addressing his condition.

“We try to carry on as normal,” Irwin told the Daily Mail in December 2022. “We made a decision not to mourn and to make the most of every day.

“I’m still working... I try to manufacture positive thoughts. People say, ‘How do you stay so upbeat?’ It’s a bit of an act, really.’”

The presenter was initially told he had six months left to live but exceeded his initial prognosis.

Speaking openly on the How to Starve Cancer Conversations podcast with Jane McLelland, the father-of-three said he exceeded his initial prognosis due to “a mixture of things”.

The ‘Escape to the Country’ presenter photographed at the TRIC Awards in June 2023 (David Fisher/Shutterstock)
The ‘Escape to the Country’ presenter photographed at the TRIC Awards in June 2023 (David Fisher/Shutterstock)

He said: "One of the reasons I think I’m still here is I’m not a cancer patient. It’s always there at the back of your mind but I’m living with cancer, not dying with cancer.”

In January 2023, Irwin threw an early 50th birthday party ahead of the actual date in August, inviting 170 friends and family to celebrate with him.

“It was a great night,” he said. “I chose a playlist with some great tunes from the 90s and 2000s and people came from all over the country and abroad.

“I didn’t know the extent of the loyalty and generosity that my friends would exhibit. I’ve been dumbfounded and spellbound by their support, as well as that of our families, who have been amazing.

“I just wanted to do something to celebrate my birthday and had no idea how many people would actually turn up. It was incredible.”

Jonnie Irwin with his wife, Jess, on a trip to Paris in 2022 (Jonnie Irwin/Instagram)
Jonnie Irwin with his wife, Jess, on a trip to Paris in 2022 (Jonnie Irwin/Instagram)

Throughout his treatment, Irwin had been working tirelessly to renovate his family home in Newcastle, and had been sharing progress on his renovations with his fans on social media.

Having hosted A Place in the Sun for nearly 18 years, Irwin’s tenure on the show came to an end in 2021, amid some controversy.

Jonnie Irwin pictured in 2010 at the TV Choice Awards (Getty Images)
Jonnie Irwin pictured in 2010 at the TV Choice Awards (Getty Images)

He claimed that Channel 4 had dropped him after he informed them of his cancer diagnosis, citing the difficulties in obtaining insurance for him.

Channel 4 said in a statement at the time: “No stone was left unturned in trying to enable Jonnie to continue his international filming with us during Covid but the production company were unable to secure adequate insurance cover for him.”

He is survived by his wife, Jessica Holmes, and three sons: Rex, four, and three-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac.