Tuesday 7 June 2011

Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die — BBC2, Monday 13 June, 9 pm

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The cover of next week's Radio Times is in no doubt as to the most significant broadcasting event during the seven days of the listing magazine's coverage. Sir Terry Pratchett peers out from the bottom of this inelegantly designed cover, his stern visage dwarfed by ominous red-on-black typography: "5 minutes of television that will change our lives..."

On Monday 13 June at 9 pm BBC2 will broadcast a specially commissioned documentary about assisted death, and it will feature the actual final moments of someone who has chosen to travel to Dignitas in Switzerland to be assisted in dying. Inside the magazine is an extensive interview with Sir Terry, whose investigations into assisted dying are documented in the programme. It's this interview (and the BBC press release) that forms the basis of several news reports:

Terry Pratchett's BBC documentary reopens debate on assisted dying | Books | The Guardian

Millionaire hotelier Peter Smedley named as man whose assisted suicide was filmed by BBC - Telegraph

'He drinks a liquid, falls into a deep sleep and dies'... the moment a man commits suicide in front of BBC cameras | Mail Online

The Mail article has comments. As of this writing there are a few saying that an actual death is not a fit subject for TV, but none claiming that assisted dying is wrong. Most say the documentary should be shown, and that assisted dying should be legal.

After his impassioned and closely argued plea for the legalisation of assisted dying, delivered as the Richard Dimbleby Lecture last year, Sir Terry was the obvious choice to front this documentary. I look forward to watching it.

UPDATE 2011-06-14:

Choosing to Die is now available on the iPlayer for a week:
The Newsnight Debate following the documentary should soon be available here: