As Jeff Brazier proudly watched his son Bobby take home the Rising Star award at the National Television Awards yesterday, he might well have reflected on the long road that took them there.
Brazier famously brought up his sons singlehandedly when their mother, former Big Brother contestant Jade Goody, died of cervical cancer at the age of just 27 in March 2009.
Jade’s death, like much of her life, was in the full glare of the media spotlight and saw her give heartwrenching interviews in the weeks leading up to it as she enjoyed her last outings with Bobby and his brother Freddie.
Away from the cameras, Jade’s ex-partner found himself a single father to his boys, then aged five and four, and vowed to give them the best start possible.
Instead of attending her funeral, Jeff took the boys away to stay with family in Adelaide, south Australia, to escape the media attention.
Jeff Brazier with sons Bobby and Freddie in March 2009, shortly after their mother’s death
Jade Goody was one of the most successful contestants to emerge from Big Brother, pictured with her sons Freddie (left) and Bobby in 2005. She died of cervical cancer in 2009 at just 27
Jade Goody pictured with her sons Bobby and Freddie at the premiere of Garfield 2 in 2006
He said: ‘It was always our priority, we wanted to do everything right for the kids and that was the case right up until the moment, and it didn’t stop at that point. That’s when the boys really needed us to be on each other’s side and we were.’
Jade and Jeff welcomed their first son Bobby in 2003, followed by Freddie in 2004 and split after two years together, while she was pregnant with their youngest child.
Jade went on to marry reality TV star Jack Tweed, just one month before her tragic death, signing a £700,000 exclusive deal with OK magazine for rights to the photos.
Tweed and Jade’s mother Jackiey Budden had appeared alongside her during a disastrous stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007, in which she was accused of bullying Indian actress Shilpa Shetty – with 54,000 complaints to Ofcom.
For the rest of her life, Jade was focused on overcoming accusations of racism and it was during a goodwill trip to India that she was told she had cervical cancer. Her initial prognosis of a 40 per cent chance of survival was drastically reduced when it was revealed the cancer had spread to other organs.
Even as her days were numbered, Jade carried on giving media interviews – setting aside the fees for her boys’ futures.
To support his grieving young family, Jeff – who first found fame on Channel 4’s reality TV series Shipwrecked – took on a variety of presenting jobs.
He also trained as a life coach and grief counsellor and worked with Family and Friends Railcard offering parents 21 tips on keeping kids entertained at weekends and in the holidays.
Jeff Brazier and Jade Goody pictured in 2003, while she was pregnant with Bobby
London-born Jade Goody was a dental nurse before entering the Big Brother House in 2002. quickly becoming a fan favourite
Jade Goody pictured with boyfriend Jeff Brazier in 2002 shortly after she found fame on Big brother. Brazier had appeared in Channel 4’s Shipwrecked
In 2017, he published his book The Grief Survival Guide: How to navigate loss and all that comes with it.
‘I’ve morphed into something quite different from your average dad,’ he later said. ‘I’m probably far more sensitive to their feelings and I’m far more aware of when they need emotional support.
‘There are little side effects of my situation where you become really good at doing quite a lot on your own.
‘I’ve got an ability to push myself beyond tiredness because if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done.’
After a few years, Jeff met PR consultant Kate Dwyer, 33, in 2013 and the couple married in 2018. They separated after lockdown but have since got back together.
Besides giving his boys a happy and secure home life, Jeff was keen for them to treasure their mother’s memory – dedicating the 15th of each month to her and regularly visiting her grave.
He later revealed that Jade had only told their sons about her cancer a week before she had died, describing the experience as ‘the hardest moment’ of his life.
Brazier pictured with son Bobby as he celebrated a win with his under 13s football team
Jeff shares a tender moment with both sons, who grew up without mother Jade in their lives
Success: The budding actor, 20, is carving out a career for himself on the screen with his role as Freddie Slater on EastEnders
Over the moon: After his name was announced, Bobby immediately hugged his father, 44, who looked overjoyed at his son’s success
Jeff said: ‘The fact that [Jade] had the strength and took the responsibility to tell them, it gave them a chance to be able to start processing in that particular moment…
‘It was just the right thing to do. It was love…
‘For her to say “Jeff I’m gonna tell them, I don’t want you to be in the room and I’ll send them out just look after them as soon as they come out of the room,” it was like I was there ready to catch them.
‘It’s the hardest moment of my life probably,’ he said, ‘why wouldn’t it be, poor boys, we did it for the boys.’
Now aged 20, Jeff’s elder son Bobby is carving out a career for himself on screen with his role as Freddie Slater on EastEnders, being well received by fans and critics alike.
Yesterday, as he won his gong at the National Television Awards, Bobby immediately hugged his father, 44, who looked overjoyed at his son’s success.
Bobby credited his win to Jeff while on stage, saying: ‘This has very little to do with me and everything to do with my dad.
‘Over the course of the last 20 years I’ve heard him say, “because I can”. It was a mantra of his and him just saying that, “because I can”. Because I can, why not?’
During his acceptance speech, the soap star stayed humble and joked he still feels like he has ‘no idea’ what he’s doing while on set.
Proud: Jeff Brazier broke down in tears of joy as his son Bobby took home the Rising Star award at the National Television Awards on Tuesday
Family: Bobby looked on cloud nine as he posed alongside his father after winning the award
Elsewhere during the show, it was Ant and Dec who claimed their 22nd NTA at the annual ceremony following a successful return to the Australian jungle with ITV1 juggernaut I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!
The pair claimed the award ahead of the much fancied Hammond, notably selected ahead of her This Morning co-host Holly Willoughby in the category for Best Presenter.
The co-hosts – who were also competing with Martin Lewis, Claudia Winkleman and Bradley Walsh – admitted they were “more nervous than ever” before going into the event on Tuesday evening, but were just as “humbled and grateful” to receive the honour as they had ever been.
Elsewhere Danielle Harold cried as she picked up the Serial Drama Performance Award for her former role in EastEnders.
The actress appeared genuinely stunned as she made her way onto the stage after her portrayal of brain tumour victim Lola Pearce-Brown’s final days saw her scoop the accolade ahead of Emmerdale’s Dominic Brunt and Coronation Street stars Charlotte Jordan and Maureen Lipman.
Accepting the award from Michelle Collins – who excitedly shouted “Yes” when she read out Danielle’s name, the actress said: ‘I literally… I really didn’t prepare anything, I thought this is the biggest, biggest, biggest shock and I can’t believe I’m standing in front of the O2.
Bobby credited his win to Jeff while on stage, saying: ‘This has very little to do with me and everything to do with my dad’
He added: ‘Over the course of the last 20 years I’ve heard him say, “because I can”. It was a mantra of his and him just saying that, “because I can”. Because I can, why not?’
Success: Bobby’s EastEnders co-star Danielle Harold took home the Serial Drama Performance award
Role: During his acceptance speech, the soap star stayed humble and joked he still feels like he has ‘no idea’ what he’s doing while on set
Tragedy: Bobby is the son of Jeff and reality star Jade Goody who died of cervical cancer when Bobby was just five years old (pictured with Jade in 2004)
‘I just want to say literally every single person who had an input into this storyline and the research, guys this is for you.
Earlier in the evening, the TV Interview honour went to The Graham Norton Show but unlike category rivals Louis Theroux, Piers Morgan and Chris and Rosie Ramsay, the host wasn’t at the ceremony to be able to accept the accolade in person
The Traitors won the Reality Competition prize, while the third season of ‘Happy Valley’ landed the Returning Drama honour.
The evening’s first award, the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award, was presented to Gogglebox.
Happy Valley also triumphed on the night, with the show winning in the category for Returning Drama, while actress Sarah Lancashire claimed the award for best Drama Performance while she also was honoured with a Special Recognition award.
National Television Awards 2023: ALL THE WINNERS
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
Race Across the World
SAS: Who Dares Wins
The Traitors – WINNER
Deborah James: Bowelbabe in Her Own Words
Lewis Capaldi: How I’m Feeling Now – WINNER
Matt Willis: Fighting Addiction
Rob Burrow: Living with MND
Call the Midwife
Happy Valley -WINNER
Ant & Dec – WINNER
Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs – WINNER
Sort Your Life Out
The Martin Lewis Money Show Live
Brenda Blethyn, DCI Vera Stanhope, Vera
India Amarteifio, Young Queen Charlotte, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story
James Norton, Tommy Lee Royce, Happy Valley
Judy Parfitt, Sister Monica Joan, Call The Midwife
Sarah Lancashire, Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley – WINNER
The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award
Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway
Gogglebox – WINNER
I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
The Masked Singer
EastEnders – WINNER
Louis Theroux Interviews…
Piers Morgan Uncensored
The Chris & Rosie Ramsey Show
The Graham Norton Show – WINNER
Serial Drama Performance
Charlotte Jordan, Daisy Midgeley, Coronation Street
Danielle Harold, Lola Pearce-Brown, EastEnders – WINNER
Dominic Brunt, Paddy Kirk, Emmerdale
Maureen Lipman, Evelyn Plummer, Coronation Street
Quiz Game Show
Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel
Richard Osman’s House Of Games
The 1% Club – WINNER
The Chase Celebrity Special
Benjamin Chivers, Isaac, The Devil’s Hour
Bobby Brazier, Freddie Slater, EastEnders – WINNER
Channique Sterling-Brown, Dee-Dee Bailey, Coronation Street
Lewis Cope, Nicky Milligan, Emmerdale
The Repair Shop – WINNER
Young Sheldon- WINNER
Britain’s Got Talent
Strictly Come Dancing – WINNER
The Great British Bake Off