Written by Julia Raeside

In The News

Game over, Noel

People with cancer have enough on their plates without being told a cure lies in their ‘attitude’, says Julia Raeside.

"Noel, I've got the ASA on the line. They'd like to have a word..." Photo: Channel 4.

“Noel, I’ve got the ASA on the line. They’d like to have a word…” Photo: Channel 4.

Television presenter Noel Edmonds has leapt to public attention again, following his peculiar anti-BBC YouTube meltdown of last week. But this time he has swapped the complexities of broadcast rights infringement in order to personally take on cancer with a magic box, because that’s just the sort of guy he is. And he is, unquestionably, an expert on boxes, having worked with them for years on his successful television programme Deal or No Deal.

The bearded gameshow host posted a tweet promoting a new device which applies “a magnetic field to the cells in the body” and “tackles cancer. Yep, tackles cancer!”

Remarkably, this perfectly reasonable claim attracted some derision on social media, including several posts by a man who says he is currently suffering from cancer. @VaunEarl said he thought Edmonds was perfectly fine as a TV personality but that he should steer clear of making wild claims on medical matters about which he has no knowledge. Because it’s dangerous. Telling ill, desperate people that a magic box will “tackle” their cancer is irresponsible at best, he said. Noel disagreed.

In response, Edmonds suggested that the man’s own cancer was possibly due to his “negative attitude” and that perhaps he should hashtag explore this idea. He then returned to promoting the magic box of electro tricks, which retails at £2,500, while the Telegraph reported that the Advertising Standards Association was launching an “urgent” investigation into his claims. According to the 1939 Cancer Act, the advertising of supposed cancer cures and treatments is prohibited.

“Hey, ill person, buck your ideas up, because that tightness in your chest isn’t the tumours slowly compromising you respiratory function, it’s just the weight of your suppressed HOPES, silly.”

But celebrities can cure cancer; we all know this. Edmonds’ ability to solve bodily ills reminded me of the amazing interview Sting gave to Emma Brockes of the Guardian back in 2003. In it, he talked about the death of his parents and how it had basically been their own fault for not expressing their true selves.

“I think cancer – I’m not an expert or a doctor – but I think cancer is the result of undigested dreams and forcing yourself to do something that is not distinctively you.” Undigested dreams.

When I posted this earlier on Twitter, comedian Rob Delaney added: “Pediatric cancer too I’m sure. Why can’t kids dream better? Thanks Sting.”

When a medically untrained celebrity starts telling ill people how to conduct their treatment, and worse still, that their illness is their own fault, it says a lot more about the wild disconnect that particular celebrity has from real people than it does about cancer.

It’s that simultaneous separation from reality, combined with the immediacy of self-broadcast mediums like Twitter that causes the biggest problem. Whether an official body is able to curb Edmonds’ advertising of this device or not is uncertain because the legislation was drafted in a time before we could all stand on our individual soap boxes and be heard by the world. It has to catch up with the advent of social media first.

However fervently the former Mr Blobby sidekick believes that a positive outlook will ensure your future health and happiness or a wealthy singer thinks you should just dream your way out of the oncology ward, they must have disappeared far, far up their own fundaments to inflict these opinions on other people.

Noel Edmonds portraitA millionaire with ample time and money to consider the true nature of existence might feel they have found ‘the answer’ and I’m delighted for them, really I am. But telling someone going through the worst possible time of their lives, and all the worries, financial difficulties and anxiety that cancers brings, that they brought it on themselves is eye-poppingly stupid.

Hey, ill person, buck your ideas up, because that tightness in your chest isn’t the tumours slowly compromising you respiratory function, it’s just the weight of your suppressed HOPES, silly. Go, open that cat sanctuary on Ko Samui and watch the pain melt away.

All that money and attention sometimes confirms to the famous that they are important. And in the case of Noel Edmonds, anyone who saw his astonishing Sky show, Noel’s HQ, will acknowledge that it can give them ideas of actual super heroism. Use your powers for good, by all means, but step the fuck away from cancer sufferers. They have enough to deal with.


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Written by Julia Raeside

Julia loves TV and writes about it for the Guardian and other people. She also enjoys talking on the radio which she mostly does for the BBC.