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The BBC, which has advocated legalization of assisted suicide and last year televised a controversial documentary on the subject, is taking the issue to a new level with a sitcom focusing on the practice.
According to a report from the U.K.’s Christian Institute, the “plot involves a group of friends who set up an assisted suicide business to help a terminally ill neighbor, and to pay off gambling debts.”
The program, described as a “controversial comedy,” will be called “Way To Go” and will air next year.
Radio Times writer Paul Jones commented that BBC Three is “clearly of the opinion that we should laugh in the face of death’ and assisted suicide ‘may be an unlikely subject for comedy.”
The London Daily Mail reported last year the backlash against the BBC’s promotion of assisted suicide hit a peak when hundreds of complaints were filed over its airing of a documentary that showed the final moments of the life of millionaire Peter Smedley, who died by assisted suicide in a Swiss clinic.
The report said four senior members of British nobility at the time accused the BBC of running an “orchestrated campaign” on assisted death, describing the documentary as “repugnant and disgraceful.”
Those horrified by the video outnumbered those who endorsed it 10-1, the report said.
At that time, the peers wrote: “Setting aside our repugnance that the death of a patient with motor neuron disease should be turned into a form of voyeuristic entertainment, the BBC has a duty to provide balanced debate. … It is not the job of the corporation to become a lobbying organization or a cheerleader for those who wish to change the law.”
The documentary was the fifth program created by the BBC in just the last few years that promoted assisted suicide, which parliament has rejected through multiple votes.
The BBC’s response to the criticism was to air the new assisted suicide series, which is scheduled to include at least six episodes.
A BBC promotion of the program says: “‘Way To Go’ follows brothers Scott and Joey and their friend Cozzo. After Scott is moved by a terminally ill neighbor’s request to die – and at the same time faced with a predatory female employer, a split from his girlfriend, and a desperate life or death need for cash to pay off his brother Joey’s gambling debts – he and his best mate Cozzo stumble towards (sic) what they think is their only solution: an assisted-suicide machine.”
The BBC says that along the way, “the 20-something mates find love in the strangest ways, fall out with each other and are touched by some of the people they come across.”
On the U.K.’s “Chortle” website, show creator Bob Kushell said having his program on the BBC was more important to him than the birth of his child or his wedding.
He told the site: “As someone who was weaned on great British comedy, including Monty Python, Blackadder and Fawlty Towers, there has been no bigger thrill in my life than to have a show on the BBC – narrowly edging out the birth of my son and trouncing my wedding day by a landslide.”
The Christian Institute reported that a physician, Dr. Peter Saunders of the Care Not Killing organization, has accused the BBC of “cheerleading” for legalized assisted suicide.