Published February 22, 2009
LONDON – A British reality TV star who is dying of cervical cancer got married Sunday in full glare of the cameras — a wedding extravaganza auctioned off to the highest media bidder to pay for the education of her young sons.
Jade Goody, the star Britons used to love to hate and now can't praise enough, has tied the knot with fiance Jack Tweed, according to her spokesman, Max Clifford.
Goody, 27, and Tweed, 21, received a standing ovation from 200 guests once they were married at the Down Hall Country House Hotel in eastern England, he told reporters.
"It was just a very beautiful, very moving service," Clifford added.
The ceremony has received overwhelmingly positive coverage in the British media and marks a turnaround for Goody, a brash and buxom star who went from being the vulgar, in-your-face posterchild for British boorishness to an exemplar of bravery following her cancer diagnosis.
While there were the usual trimmings of a celebrity wedding — a helicopter, a fancy hotel, a television crew, a reported million pound (dollar) deal to secure photo and video rights to the ceremony — the circumstances were far from typical.
The bride, 27, is bald from chemotherapy and carried a pouch for painkillers concealed in her designer dress; the groom is on probation after assaulting a teenage boy with a golf club.
Although Tweed is under curfew, he was given special dispensation by Britain's Justice Ministry allowing him to spend Sunday evening with his bride.
"It might be their only night together," Clifford said.
Now known to most Britons simply as "Jade," Goody was plucked from obscurity to play in "Big Brother," a British reality show, in 2002. Her eye-popping gaffes — she infamously complained of being "an escape goat" and questioned whether English was spoken in the U.S. — made her so mocked that her old south London school defended itself by saying she wasn't a typical pupil.
Goody cashed in on her notoriety with an autobiography, fitness videos and a line of perfume, but her clashes with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty, during the filming of "Celebrity Big Brother" in January 2007, saw her branded a racist and ejected from the show in disgrace.
Goody tried her best to fix the damage, making up with Shetty, donating money to an Indian charity and offering to appear on the Indian version of the show. It was while she was filming that show in August that she learned she had cancer.
Her decision to film her struggle with the disease — to make as much money as possible to benefit her two young sons — has drawn praise from all corners of British society.
"A lot of people might say 'well, it's better if she did everything in quiet,"' Murphy-O'Connor told Sky News. "But I think she's made a decision that she wants the last months of her life to teach people something."
Others have noted that the number of screenings for cervical cancer, which can catch the disease when it is more easily treatable, has spiked since Goody's condition hit the headlines.
"Jade Goody has done what no public health campaign has been able to do in the past, which is get widespread public attention on to the screening issue," British lawmaker Dr. Liam Fox told Sky on Sunday.