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Jonnie Irwin latest: Escape to the Country star’s family lead tributes to ‘remarkable soul’

A Place in the Sun presenter Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50, his family announced on Friday (2 February).

The former TV host had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2020. After initially keeping his illness private, Irwin revealed his condition in November 2022 after being told the cancer had spread from his lungs to his brain.

The news of his death was shared on the presenter’s Instagram account alongside a statement.

“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.

Tributes have quickly poured in for Irwin, with Jasmine Harman – his Place in the Sun co-presenter of more than 200 episodes – saying her “heart is broken”.

Key Points

  • Jonnie Irwin, A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country presenter, dies aged 50

  • Presenter’s heartbreaking regret after receiving terminal cancer diagnosis

  • My heart is broken: Wife Jessica’s tribute to Jonnie

  • ‘May the sun always shine on you’: Co-presenter pays tribute

Jonnie Irwin, A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country presenter, dies aged 50

08:38 , Roisin O'Connor

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.

Full story:

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

A Place in the Sun pays tribute

14:01 , Roisin O'Connor

A Place In The Sun has paid tribute to former presenter Jonnie Irwin following his death aged 50.

An Instagram statement said: “We are heartbroken. Jonnie was a much-loved part of the A Place In The Sun family for more than 18 years - he brought joy, wit and bundles of energy to the show.

“We will miss him terribly.

“Our thoughts are with Jess and the boys, and the rest of the family.”

Irwin leaves behind his wife Jessica and three boys Rex, Rafa and Cormac.

Nicki Chapman ‘heartbroken’ after news of Jonnie Irwin’s death

13:31 , Roisin O'Connor

TV presenter Nicki Chapman said she is “heartbroken” following the death of fellow Escape To The Country star Jonnie Irwin.

On Instagram, she said: “Heartbroken. Sending love to Jess & the family.”

Jonnie Irwin regretted not getting critical illness cover after cancer

12:31 , Roisin O'Connor

Jonnie Irwin’s former A Place in the Sun co-star pays tribute

12:01 , Roisin O'Connor

TV presenter Jasmine Harman has paid tribute to her A Place In The Sun co-star Jonnie Irwin following his death aged 50.

In an Instagram post, she said: “To begin our TV careers together was a pleasure and a privilege I will be eternally grateful for.

“Almost twenty years ago, as two nervous new presenters (me perhaps more nervous than you!) little did we know about the adventure we were about to embark on, and the friends we would become.

“Professionally, you were well suited to life in front of the lens. But for years, you always talked about wanting to settle down and become a dad.

“Your wish was granted when you met Jess. Never were you happier than in your role as husband and Dad to the most awesome three boys - you are a legend.”

She added: “The world is a little darker today without you, but I will always smile when I think of you. My partner in crime, my OG co-presenter - Jonnie, I will miss you.”

Jasmine Harman (Getty Images for Warner Bros UK)
Jasmine Harman (Getty Images for Warner Bros UK)

Jonnie Irwin withheld cancer diagnosis because ‘people treat you differently’

11:31 , Roisin O'Connor

Jonnie Irwin, the man who helped couples find their dream homes

11:01 , Roisin O'Connor

A Place In The Sun presenter Jonnie Irwin will be best remembered for helping couples buy their dream homes inside and outside the UK following his death aged 50.

The property expert started off presenting what was then called A Place In The Sun: Home Or Away? with Jasmine Harman in 2004.

The Channel 4 show helps couples who want to move from the UK to find a home abroad with sun, sea and sand.

He also featured on other property shows, such as I Escaped To The Country and Escape To The Country on the BBC, and Dream Lives For Sale on Sky.

The Country property series is set in the UK and sees families try to find their dream home in rural locations with the help of experts.

Irwin also starred in Channel 4’s Renovation Game, which ran for three seasons from 2011, and saw builders and designers put their fees on the line if they do not raise the property value of a house during a revamp.

Outside presenting, Irwin regularly contributed to a blog for the legal firm, Judicare Group, which specialises in overseas property, and has been a director at the company since March 2017.

Jonnie Irwin on ‘A Place in the Sun’ (Channel 4)
Jonnie Irwin on ‘A Place in the Sun’ (Channel 4)

Jonnie Irwin shared heartbreaking regret after terminal cancer diagnosis

10:47 , Roisin O'Connor

In December 2022, Irwin revealed he was forced to keep working following his terminal cancer diagnosis because he failed to take out critical illness cover.

Appearing on ITV’s breakfast show This Morning, Irwin told hosts Gethin Jones and Kimberley Walsh that he wished he had done things differently.

“When you get a terminal diagnosis, [the insurance] covers you for when you’re gone,” he said.

“But a terminal diagnosis can go on for years and it will affect... your illness affects your work, so if you’re unable to work and you’re waiting for this payout, who is going to pay the rent?

“So critical illness is a policy you take alongside that and that kicks in as soon as you’re ill.”

Failing to take out critical illness cover so has proved to be a major source of stress, Irwin admitted.

“I didn’t take that and that put a lot of pressure on having to work on days when I didn’t want to go to work, and that’s one mistake I say to everyone,” he said.

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

10:30 , Roisin O'Connor

How Jonnie Irwin defied the odds to outlive his original terminal cancer diagnosis

10:01 , Roisin O'Connor

In November 2022, Jonnie Irwin announced that his lung cancer was terminal and had spread to his brain.

Irwin said the first warning sign of his illness came while he was filming A Place In The Sun in August 2020 in Italy, when his vision became blurry while driving.

“Within a week of flying back from filming, I was being given six months to live,” he told Hello! magazine.

“I had to go home and tell my wife, who was looking after our babies, that she was on her own pretty much. That was devastating.

“All I could do was apologise to her. I felt so responsible.”

His co-star Jasmine Harman, who has presented A Place In The Sun for more than a decade, said on Instagram at the time she was “proud to call him a friend” and it was “brave” for him to share his story.

Irwin defied his initial six months' odds and opened up about his story in the last months of his life to encourage others to make the most of every day.

He also offered tips on life insurance policies and how he is helping protect his young family for the future, encouraging others to consider taking out a critical illness policy to help cover periods you are unable to work if you become ill.

In March, he revealed he had celebrated his 50th birthday earlier than his actual November date with a big bash surrounded by 170 friends and family.

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

“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.”

Jonnie Irwin appeared on BBC Morning Live to talk about palliative care and hospices (BBC Morning Live)
Jonnie Irwin appeared on BBC Morning Live to talk about palliative care and hospices (BBC Morning Live)

He reportedly underwent traditional cancer-blocking drugs as well as trialling alternative therapies including infusions of vitamin C, a cocktail of daily vitamins, a strict diet and treatment in an oxygen chamber.

A year after revealing his diagnosis, he celebrated his birthday on holiday in Spain with his children and told his followers in November 2023 that he was admitted to hospital.

He wrote on Instagram: “Back in hospital - been in since Friday with jaundice. I had a fever and acute stabbing pain in my right hand side.

“Turns out I probably had an infection and other issues which I won't bore you with. Been on drips, regular bloods taken and have observations every 4 hours through day and night.”

He subsequently said “my liver function is heading in the right direction” after having blood tests.

On the Conversations with Jane McLelland podcast in January 2024, he said his “rich kaleidoscope of help” also included hyperbaric oxygen treatment and Japanese alternative therapy Reiki.

“This positive attitude buys you days, buys you weeks and buys you moments with people like my kids,” he added.

He leaves behind his wife Jessica and children Rex, Rafa and Cormac.

Read the statement from Jonnie Irwin’s family

09:30 , Roisin O'Connor

A spokesman for the family said: “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.

“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.”

Statement says Irwin will be ‘greatly missed'

09:01 , Roisin O'Connor

TV presenter Jonnie Irwin has died aged 50, his agent has confirmed.

A statement on his Instagram account said: “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.

“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.”

Jonnie Irwin at the TRIC Awards (Zak/Landmark Media)
Jonnie Irwin at the TRIC Awards (Zak/Landmark Media)

University tribute

06:23 , Alex Ross

Irwin graudated from University of Central England with a BSC in estate management. The university said on X: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the loss of BCU alumnus Jonnie Irwin.

“Our thoughts are with Jonnie’s wife Jessica, his sons Rex, Rafa and Cormac, and his family and friends.”

‘Incredibly saddened'

04:23 , Alex Ross

John Comerford, head of Naked West and executive producer of Escape to the Country said: ‘We are incredibly saddened to hear the news about Jonnie.

‘He has been at the very heart of Escape to the Country for 14 years and will be a huge loss to our production team and all the viewers who have loved watching him on the show.

‘Jonnie was clever, warm and funny, never short of a mischievous and insightful line and always put the programme’s contributors at ease. All the teams he worked with loved him.

‘He is an unimaginable loss to the Escape family. We send our love and heartfelt condolences to Jess and his beautiful boys.’

Jonnie’s life

02:23 , Alex Ross

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

Here we look back at his life and career:

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

How his death was announced

Friday 2 February 2024 23:57 , Alex Ross

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

‘We miss him terribly'

Friday 2 February 2024 22:25 , Alex Ross

A spokesperson for A Place in the Sun said: “We are heartbroken. Jonnie was a much loved part of the A Place in the Sun family and for more than 18 years he brought joy, wit and bundles of energy to the show.

“We will miss him terribly. Our thoughts today are with Jess and the boys and the rest of Jonnie’s family.”

Jonnie Irwin (Channel 4)
Jonnie Irwin (Channel 4)

'One of the brightest most brilliant TV talents’

Friday 2 February 2024 20:54 , Alex Ross

Astrologer and media personality Russell Grant said: “I’m so deeply deeply upset that Jonnie Irwin has left us.

“One of the brightest most brilliant TV talents he made the programmes he presented with his light, bright, witty warmth a joy to watch. May his wife, sons and family be comforted on this sad day.”

‘An extraordinary man and wonderful presenter'

Friday 2 February 2024 20:52 , Alex Ross

Rob Unsworth, head of BBC Daytime and Early Peak Commissioning, said: “Jonnie Irwin was an extraordinary man and wonderful presenter.

“He brought such warmth and fun to Escape to the Country, where he was a firm favourite with not just viewers, but the production team too.

“More recently, he did some truly inspirational reports for Morning Live about his illness, tackling taboos around end of life care, and wonderfully demonstrating the limitless positivity that he brought to everything he did. His kindness will be hugely missed by everyone he worked with, and we are sending all of our thoughts to his family and friends at this sad time.”

Gogglebox’s Stephen Lustig-webb calls Irwin a ‘thoroughly decent person’

Friday 2 February 2024 20:10 , Tom Murray

Former Gogglebox star Stephen Lustig-Webb wrote: “Rest in peace, always came across as a thoroughly decent person! So sad, love n hugs to him family.”

Lustig-Webb’s mother Pat Webb died after a “long illness” earlier this week.

Homes Under the Hammer’s Lucy Alexander pays tribute

Friday 2 February 2024 20:07 , Tom Murray

Commenting on the announcement of Irwin’s death, Homes Under the Hammer presenter Alexander wrote: “A true legend.”

Nicki Chapman: ‘Heartbroken'

Friday 2 February 2024 20:04 , Tom Murray

Veteran radio and TV host Nicki Chapman has commented: “Heartbroken. Sending love to Jess & the family.”

Danni Menzies shares inspirational quote

Friday 2 February 2024 20:00 , Tom Murray

Another A Place in the Sun star, Danni Menzies, shared a quote to her Instagram Stories, reading: “When we die, I want to believe that we are scattered throughout all the people that have ever loved us. That we will continue to exist in them. In their bloodstream. For generations. Gor lifetimes.” Writing alongside this, she added: “You will Jonnie xxx.”

A Place in the Sun’s Scarlette Douglas pays tribute

Friday 2 February 2024 19:58 , Tom Murray

Scarlette Douglas, who presented A Place in the Sun between 2015 and 2022, shared a picture of Irwin on her Instagram, writing: “May the sun always shine on you Jonnie. RIP.”

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

Friday 2 February 2024 19:39 , Tom Murray

Jasmine Harman: ‘My heart is broken'

Friday 2 February 2024 19:31 , Tom Murray

Harman, who presented more than 200 episodes of Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun alongside Irwin, commented on the post announcing his death: “My heart is broken.”

She also shared a lengthier statement on her own Instagram account alongside a photo of her and Irwin looking out onto a sunset. It read: “Jonnie Irwin – I will always remember the first time I heard your name. When I was doing a screen test for a new show, they said ‘we definitely want Jonnie, but we need to find another presenter’. I wondered who this mysterious Jonnie was.

“We met in Cape Town, filming the pilot. You we’re so charismatic and energetic, so confident and fun. I understood immediately why they had to have you.

“Your cheeky-chappy persona and naughty sense of humour always broke the ice and made people laugh. Everyone warmed to you and you had the incredible ability to connect with people, making them feel like they’d known you for years.

“To begin our TV careers together was a pleasure and a privilege I will be eternally grateful for. Almost twenty years ago, as two nervous new presenters (me perhaps more nervous than you!) little did we know we know about the adventure we were about to embark on, and the friends we would become.

“Professionally, you were well suited to life in front of the lens. But for years, you always talked about wanting to settle down and become a dad. Your wish was granted when you met Jess. Never were you happier than in your role as husband and Dad to the most awesome three boys – you are a legend.

“Life is simply not fair. We can’t reason with it; there are no answers to the question Why? We can, in your memory learn to cherish every hug, every conversation, every moment, for the priceless time we have. Enjoy every breath, every sunrise and sunset, never take anything for granted, because tomorrow is not promised.

“Jonnie, you’ve taught me so much in our time as work colleagues and as good friends. I have never admired you more than over the last few years as you’ve faced life with cancer with positivity, determination and bloody mindedness. I’ve never known anyone as strong as you. You have done yourself, your loved ones and all of us proud.

“The world is a little darker today without you, but I will always smile when I think of you. My partner in crime, my OG co-presenter – Jonnie, I will miss you.

“Sending so much love to Jonnie’s family & loved ones.”

Irwin’s death announced

Friday 2 February 2024 19:26 , Tom Murray

“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,” a statement from Irwin’s family read on his Instagram account.

“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.”

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