Death on TV?

  Forum Editor 23:13 27 Jul 2007

I listened to an interesting and moving item on the car radio today, it was about a programme that's to be aired by ITV, chronicaling the death of an Altzheimers sufferer.

He contracted the disease 11 years ago, and with initially his, and subsequently his wife's agreement and cooperation a film-maker recorded his decline and the actual moment of his recent death.

There's a bit of a fuss going on about whether the moment of someone's death should be broadcast on TV, and my initial reaction was one of uncertainty. Having heard the wife talking,very movingly, about her reasons for allowing it I am now completely convinced that it's a valid thing to do. What are your views?

  Kate B 23:16 27 Jul 2007

It has been done before and I'm in favour of it if it's done with the full knowledge and consent of everyone - the person dying, obviously, and their immediate family and close people. Death is part of life and although we see representations of it all the time on the screen, we so rarely see real death.

Taboos should be challenged, and, done properly, this is something television can and should do well.

My reservations would come if people's deaths were degraded by being on television, as in, for example, the televising of an execution. I didn't watch any of the footage of Saddam's death, nor have I watched any footage of any other killing of another person. It's degrading in the extreme.

  WhiteTruckMan 23:21 27 Jul 2007

will view it for the novelty factor. I imagine quite a few will change their view, but for the majority it will just be entertainment.

But its not a first, if anyone remembers Herbie, who passed away on camera as part of Prof Winstons excellent series on the human body.


  Blackhat 23:29 27 Jul 2007

Death is one of those subjects that many of us find hard to express our feeling about with any other than those closest to us. We are often ignorant of some of the emotions until it affects us directly. TV can help people to see that it is OK to talk about it, and quality documentaries can help loosen some of the stigma surrounding this delicate subject.

The doc "The boy whose skin fell off" has to be one of the the most enjoyable, sad, funny and eye opening programs featuring someones death.

Lets hope that there is not a spate of this kind of programing though.

  Kate B 23:31 27 Jul 2007

Does it matter, though, why people view it? You can't as a programme-maker, or indeed a creator of anything, dictate how people consume it.

  Forum Editor 23:31 27 Jul 2007

was that her husband had wanted the film to be made, at least he had when he was capable of expression - as time went on he lost virtually all his faculties, and could not speak. He could move his head and eyes, and that was it. She felt that people generally have a totally unrealistic understanding of what a terrible condition Alzheimers can be; her husband was a living skeleton by the time he died, had been doubly incontinent for a long time, was unable to digest food properly, could not understand a word that was said to him, and had no idea who anyone was.

She cared for him until she was unable to carry the burden any longer, and transferred him to a residential care home - something she still feels incredibly guilty about. She obviously feels strongly that society does too little to help Alzheimer sufferers - many of whom are quite young - and she expressed her views fairly forcibly.

  WhiteTruckMan 23:48 27 Jul 2007

at the very least to a programme maker how their product is viewed, at least in a serious context like this. I believe -correct me if I am wrong- that the point of such programmes is to get a message across. If the message doesnt come across or, worse, the wrong message, then its either not a very well made programme or the audience is not ready to accept the message.


  Eargasm 23:56 27 Jul 2007

FE Whilst i accept the item on the radio might have been interesting and moving, i fail to see how it can ever be right to watch the decline and ultimate death of a human being on television.
As Kate B says, she would have reservations if the death was degrading like viewing a execution as would most people, but in the end what's the real difference, and who would decide where we draw the line ?

  Stuartli 00:08 28 Jul 2007

I would venture that such a programme would bring considerable insight into what emotions and suffering people go through in the days, months and years leading up to a sufferer's death.

Many, many thousands of carers spend large parts of their lives looking after their loved ones with very little recognition of their love, dedication and immense personal sacrifices.

Such programmes are one means of bringing it to the attention of others who are more blessed.

  Forum Editor 00:18 28 Jul 2007

That is precisely the point that was being made by the wife of this man.

The film was made by one man with a hand-held camera, there was no crew, no lighting rig, and no intrusive microphone. The film-maker happened to be in the house when the man died, and was invited into the room by the family. The wife said that her husband knew the cameraman, and knew that he was present. Apparently he had a way of turning his head when he disapproved of something, and he didn't do this.

  Chegs ®™ 02:43 28 Jul 2007

Its not a programme I would bother to watch,although I can appreciate the motives behind the making.Having witnessed family members decline from this disease it would be too emotive although I was very young when they died,my memories of them before this disease is pleasant and I dont wish to see how they will have become.

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