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Ricky Gervais reveals David Bowie kept his illness private from everyone

The pair had an email exchange just two weeks before Bowie passed away

Maya Oppenheim
Monday 25 April 2016 14:14 BST
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The pair sparked up a friendship more than a decade ago and spent time together in both New York and England
The pair sparked up a friendship more than a decade ago and spent time together in both New York and England (Getty Images)

Ricky Gervais has revealed he was in touch with David Bowie two weeks prior to his death but Bowie kept his ill health a secret.

The iconic singer lived with cancer for 18 months but kept his illness private from all but a handful of those closest to him.

Gervais said he emailed Bowie to tell him how much he enjoyed Blackstar, his final album released just two days before his death.

“[His death] was a total surprise. I was emailing him two weeks before, so he must have known … He kept it from everyone,” Gervais told BBC Radio 5 Live.

The pair sparked up a friendship more than a decade ago and spent time together in both New York and England. “I got an email from him saying ‘I watch The Office, I laughed, what do I do now?’ … We sort of became pen pals“.

Bowie made a cameo appearance in Gervais's comedy series Extras in 2006. “He was a fan of comedy. It's funny that I was a failed pop star and he loved comedy,” Gervais said.

Bowie’s death at the age of 69 came as a tremendous surprise to both his fans and those close to him.

In the aftermath of his death, Belgian theatre director Ivo Van Hove who collaborated with Bowie on the musical Lazarus said the singer was suffering from liver cancer. Hove said he was one of the rare people who knew about his illness as Bowie had been forced to explain why he wouldn't always be able to attend rehearsals.

“Bowie was still writing on his deathbed, you could say,” Hove told the website, dutchnews.nl. “I saw a man fighting. He fought like a lion and kept working like a lion through it all. I had incredible respect for that.”

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