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The issue of death and dying should not be swept under the carpet

Tonight, the BBC1 programme Inside the Human Body will broadcast the last moments and death of Gerald, an 84 year old man with liver and lung cancer. Gerald dies in a hospice surrounded by his loved ones. The decision to broadcast the programme has attracted criticism from groups such as Mediawatch and Care not Killing, who have argued that death is a ‘private matter’.

Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying, said:

“So long as the issue is dealt with sensitively, is intended to inform rather than entertain, is broadcast with the full approval of those involved, and that viewers are aware of the programme’s contents before they watch it, I welcome the showing of this programme.

“I think it’s important that death and dying isn’t an issue that is swept under the carpet, and treated as a taboo subject, and I am pleased that the BBC is leading the way and dealing with this issue head on, for the first time on terrestrial television.

“Dignity in Dying promotes choice and control at the end of life, and if people aren’t aware of what to expect and what choices they can make at the end of their lives then they are less likely to have what they consider to be a good death.

“We look forward to watching the programme and have no doubt that the BBC will deal with it in an appropriate and sensitive way, and hope that it leads to a constructive debate for all who watch it about what choices they might make in the last days and weeks of life.”


Notes to editor:

About Dignity in Dying:

  • Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
  • Dignity in Dying has over 25,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
  • The British Social Attitudes Survey 2010 found that 92% of non-religious and 71% of religious people support assisted dying. This relates to overall support of 82%.

Media Contacts:
For all Dignity in Dying media enquiries, please contact Jo Cartwright on 020 7479 7737 / 07725433025 or at