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Clive James has confessed he has been beat by cancer.

The British-based Australian broadcaster and novelist said he had “almost died four times” since he was diagnosed with leukaemia two-and-a-half-years ago.

His early hopes to fight the disease have been dashed, the 72-year-old said.

“I swore to myself if I can just get through this winter, I’d feel better,” the TV veteran told BBC Radio 4. “And I got through the winter and here it is a lovely sunny day and guess what, I don’t feel better.”

James, who is best known for shows such as Clive James on Television, contracted lung disease after chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, which is a slowly progressing cancer, had taken a hold of his immune system.

He was treated at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, and, with an emphysema-like symptoms, found it increasingly hard to breath.

James has given up on seeing his hometown of Sydney again.

“I’ve been so sick I’m not allowed to fly. You couldn’t get enough oxygen aboard a plane to get me to Sydney. I used to be in Australia for five or six times a year but now I can’t go,” he said.

James moved to England in 1962 and studied English at Pembroke College at Cambridge, where he became ­president of the Footlights drama club.

James also talks emotionally about his father, who he never knew, as he survived as a Japanese prisoner during the Second World War, and died on his return to Australia.

“I never saw him. I think I was in his arms as a baby for about a day before he sailed off.

“I suppose that was the defining effect on my life. I talk about it even now with difficulty but, yes, he was meant to come home and didn’t and I was on my own with my mother.”

James features on the Radio 4 documentary Meeting Myself Coming Back, which wil be aired on Saturday at 8pm.


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Aussie author and broadcaster Clive James: 'I've lost my battle with cancer'
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