The BBC is once again under fire for acting as a “cheerleader for assisted suicide”, this time in popular soap EastEnders.
In an episode aired on Tuesday night, long-standing character Peggy Mitchell took a fatal overdose of medication after learning that she had terminal cancer.
Dignity in Dying – formerly known as the Voluntary Euthanasia Society – immediately used the storyline to call for the law on assisted suicide to be relaxed.
But the storyline was slammed by pro-life organisation Care Not Killing (CNK), which said: “It is extremely disappointing to learn that yet again the BBC is acting as the cheerleader for assisted suicide and suicide”.
Highlighting that the episode was the seventh pro-assisted suicide programme aired by the BBC, CNK said “the alternatives – quality palliative and hospice care along with home care – continue to be ignored”.
“It is depressing that yet again the BBC has missed an opportunity to share with the nation the work of the army of volunteers, doctors and other health care professionals who support the overwhelming majority of the half million people who die every year in this country.”
The BBC claimed that it “worked closely with leading medical experts” to ensure that the EastEnders storyline was portrayed as “sensitively” as possible.
In February, the broadcaster was widely criticised for airing a controversial documentary called ‘How to die: Simon’s choice’.
It told the story of Simon Binner, a businessman who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and later travelled to a suicide facility in Switzerland.
Writing in the Daily Mail Dr Max Pemberton expressed concerns at the potential the documentary had to influence people’s perception of suicide:
“What worries me is that the TV programme sanitised suicide. Simon Binner’s last moments in that tranquil Swiss clinic were a world away from the appalling truth of what it’s like for most people who take an overdose.”