“Jonnie Irwin, 50, dies three years after A Place in the Sun star’s terminal cancer diagnosis

Jonnie Irwin, best known for his TV appearances on shows like A Place in the Sun and Escape to the Country, has passed away at the age of 50, after being diagnosed with cancer in 2020.

Jonnie Irwin passed away at the age of 50 after spending the last three years living with a terminal lung cancer diagnosis.

His death was confirmed in a heartbreaking post on Instagram on Friday. A spokesperson 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,” they added.

His friends and co-stars have since paid tribute with A Place In The Sun’s Jasmine Harman writing: “My heart is broken,” alongside a broken heart emoji. His co-star, Scarlette Douglas took to her own Instagram to share a snap of Jonnie filming on location, writing: “May the sun always shine on you, Jonnie. RIP.” 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. For lifetimes.” Writing alongside this, she added: “You will Jonnie xxx.”

A Place In The Sun has also paid tribute, sharing a black-and-white image of the late presenter. The show said: “Sharing a black and white photo of Jonnie, they 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.”

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.

John Comerford, Head of Naked West and Executive Producer of Escape to the Country also paid tribute as he 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.”

Born on November 18, 1973, Jonnie grew up on a small farm in the village of Bitteswell, Leicestershire, before moving to Birmingham to gain a degree in estate management. Jonnie’s experience in the property industry led to the late star being selected to present Channel 4 show A Place in the Sun – Home or Away in 2004, launching his TV career.

In addition to hosting A Place in the Sun, Jonnie also fronted BBC property shows Escape to the Country and To Buy or Not to Buy and presented his own show on Sky One in 2011, Dream Lives for Sale, and later the same year, The Renovation Game on Channel 4. In 2022, after publicly disclosing his cancer diagnosis, Jonnie accused A Place in the Sun producers of axing him as presenter after 18 years due to his terminal illness.

Jonnie broke the news of his lung cancer diagnosis to fans in November 2022, heartbreakingly admitting at the time that he ‘didn’t know how long’ he had left to live, after first being diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2020, which went on to spread to his brain and result in a terminal diagnosis.

Speaking alongside his wife Jessica Holmes as he shared the devastating health news during an interview, Jonnie explained how he was trying to stay positive as he lived with cancer and shared how he had set ‘little markers’ – things he wanted to be around for.

Jonnie went on to reveal he was going public with his diagnosis to “get the monkey off my back” and revealed he was actually filming in Italy when he first realized something might be wrong. In August 2020 he had an episode of blurry vision while he was driving – with subsequent tests confirming he had developed lung cancer, which had spread to his brain.

In an emotional interview alongside his wife Jessica, Jonnie told Hello! magazine: “I don’t know how long I have left, but I try to stay positive and my attitude is that I’m living with cancer, not dying from it. I set little markers – things I want to be around for. I got into the habit of saying: ‘Don’t plan ahead because I might not be well enough.’ But now I want to make plans. I want to make memories and capture these moments with my family because the reality is, my boys are going to grow up not knowing their dad and that breaks my heart.”

Devoted dad Jonnie leaves behind his wife Jessica, who he married in September 2016, and their three young children; Rex, three, and two-year-old twins Rafa and Cormac. Over the years, Jonnie often shared snippets of his and Jessica’s blissful family life with their kids and clearly loved being a father.

Alongside snaps of the late star shooting TV projects, Jonnie’s Instagram page was filled with sweet images of his beloved wife and his children enjoying holidays together and spending time together in their home located in the Hertfordshire town of Berkhamsted. “I love working on location but the downside is I miss some family moments,” Jonnie captioned a snap of Jessica and two of their children dressed in Tottenham Hotspurs in 2022. “Got this through this morning with the extra pick me up of seeing the twins in their new onesies. Almost makes losing to them on Sunday palatable. #family #coys #twins #spursfamily.”

In July this year, Jonnie received a wave of praise after appearing on TV to implore people living with terminal cancer to “check out hospices” as day patients. Speaking from a hospice where he was receiving palliative care at the time, the dad-of-three described the place as “spacious, energised and comfortable.”

“I’ve been using palliative care for three years,” Jonnie explained to Morning Live hosts Helen Skelton and Gethin Jones via a video link. Palliative care is the medical caregiving approach aimed at optimizing the quality of life and mitigating suffering among people with serious, complex, and often terminal illnesses.

Jonnie went on to clear up some of the misconceptions about palliative care, saying: “It’s the care you’re given when doctors think you won’t recover – I’ve been in palliative care since day one, when I got my diagnosis. It can take many guises – from hospital visits and chemotherapy all the way to the hospice.”

Reflecting on his experiences staying in hospices, the property expert admitted: “It’s a delight actually! I wouldn’t say it’s like [staying in] a hotel but it is like a very nice, private hospital. My perception [of hospices] was very much a room full of frail people towards the end of their days, but this is nothing of sort – it’s spacious, energized, comfortable… there is even a jacuzzi!”

After going public with his terminal diagnosis in November last year, Jonnie encouraged others to take out life insurance. “That has helped so much and when I leave this planet, I’ll do so knowing Jess and the boys are in a house that is fully paid off and there’s a bit of money in the bank for them to live off,” Jonnie admitted in the first interview about his condition.

A Place In The Sun presenter Jonnie said he ‘never thought he’d make it to his 50th birthday. Jonnie was initially told he wouldn’t live to see his twins’ third birthday party. The star shared children Rex, four, and twins Rafa and Cormac, three – with his wife Jessica. His twins turned three last year and the star was focusing on living his best life with his friends and family. Ahead of his 50th birthday in November, Jonnie revealed he and his family planned to travel to Spain to celebrate the special milestone while they waited for the test results from his radiotherapy treatments.

“I never thought I’d be here,” he revealed. “I’m really looking forward to some time with Jess and the boys.” Speaking previously to The Sun, Jonnie admitted he never thought about death but his tough battle forced him to think about it. “I’d never thought about dying, despite the cancer, and Jess and I don’t talk about it,” he said. “But at my weakest point, I thought, ‘This is it, this is the beginning of the end’.

In November, he said the tumor in his lung had spread to his brain and since learning of his diagnosis, Jonnie has been focused on creating memories with his wife and children. Jonnie also urged people ‘to learn’ from his ‘mistake’ that he came to regret in his final months.

Jonnie previously revealed that he regretted not taking out critical illness insurance, which meant he was forced to ‘keep working.’ “I didn’t take critical illness insurance out and therefore I had to keep working,” the star said. “Without work, I’ve got no means of paying the bills. And if I had taken the critical illness insurance out, that could’ve covered my outgoings and I probably could’ve told the world [about his condition] a lot sooner.”

Jonnie told AIG Life’s The OneChat podcast that he feels “ridiculous” for not considering this level of insurance after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He continued: “I could’ve had two years of living a more open lifestyle. And I want people to learn from that mistake. I think at the time I just thought I can better spend that money elsewhere. Where I don’t know. I’ve not frittered it away. Maybe because I know what benefits it would have had, it just seems ridiculous that I didn’t.

“I thought I was doing well just taking out life insurance. It’s one positive thing and helped me a great deal in getting a financial position in life to know my wife and my boys are more secure. But how I wish I’d taken out that extra cover.”

The A Place in the Sun star also admitted the ‘hardest thing’ he’s ever had to do was tell his wife he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer just two months after she gave birth to their twins.

“I can remember it like it was yesterday. And I’ve got no memory since my whole brain therapy. But that bloody memory stays in my head. And it is brutal. All I can remember is hugging her and just saying, ‘Sorry,'” Jonnie added.

When he was first diagnosed, doctors told Jonnie, whose cancer later spread to his brain, that he only had six months to live, however, he went on to defy those predictions, going on to mark his 50th birthday against all odds.”