While the BBC prepares to screen footage of a cancer victim’s dying moments, Channel 4 has revealed plans for a live programme showing people taking illegal drugs.
Tonight’s episode of Inside the Human Body, which will air in a primetime slot on BBC One, will show the dying moments of a former soldier known only as Gerald.
The BBC claims that showing Gerald’s death “is integral to understanding what happens to the body when it is no longer able to function properly”.
This claim was dismissed by Dr Peter Saunders, campaign director of Care Not Killing, who said: “Some aspects of life are so personal and private that even if individuals give their consent to be broadcast, we are wiser to keep them private.
“I think we can deal sensitively and factually around conveying what happens around a death in order to alleviate the anxiety we have around the dying process without crossing this Rubicon.”
The controversy comes as Channel 4 unveils plans for a new series which will show volunteers taking illegal Class A drugs, regarded as the most dangerous, as part of a controversial experiment.
The broadcaster says that the new show, entitled Drugs Live, will examine the physical and psychological effects caused by drugs and alcohol.
But critics are concerned that it will encourage experimentation.
Reflecting on the new show Vivienne Pattison, director of campaign group Mediawatch-UK, said that “Channel 4 have got a bit of a reputation for doing ‘educational’ programmes that turn out to be sensationalist.”
She added: “We know children don’t look at this sort of thing in the same way as a mature adult.”
David Glover, Specialist Factual Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, said: “This subject is fraught with controversy and confusion – this series will provide viewers with unmediated access to a live drug trial.
“Viewers will be able to see for themselves the actual effects the drugs have in scientific detail.”
Last month the BBC was accused of being a cheerleader for assisted suicide after deciding to show a man with motor neurone disease killing himself at a facility in Switzerland.