BBC faces criticism over assisted suicide drama

A BBC drama featuring TV star Olivia Colman has been criticised for ‘gradually normalising’ assisted suicide.

The Dilemma, which was broadcast on Sunday evening, told the story of a pregnant woman who agreed to prepare lethal drugs for her ill mother.

However, one TV critic pointed out that the characters never indicated that assisted suicide is actually against the law.


The Corporation has previously been described as a “cheerleader” for assisted suicide, and a 2009 drama on the issue was labelled “one-sided”.

The Times’ Andrew Billen said the “gradual normalisation” of assisted suicide “through its drama is something the BBC needs to watch”.

In Sunday’s 30-minute programme Olivia Colman played a vet who uses drugs from her work to help her mother, Angela, kill herself.

Convenient lie

Writing in the Daily Mail, Christopher Stevens says the main character, Pippa, “prepared the drugs, and watched while her mother drank them down. Then she told a convenient lie to the police”.

Stevens added that at no point did the characters consider the law on the issue. “Murder, even when done with the best of intentions, tends to carry a stiff penalty, but never once did Angela say: ‘You can’t do this, they’ll put you in jail.'”

He added that Pippa’s husband “uttered no hint that he didn’t want to see his baby born in a prison maternity ward”.


“And”, the reviewer continued, “Pippa seemed blithely unbothered at the thought that, by the time she was eligible for parole, her child would probably have finished university.

“By avoiding these issues — the very ones that do restrain people when assisted suicide is in question — the drama rendered itself unreal and irrelevant.”

Bills seeking to introduce assisted suicide are currently in the Westminster and Holyrood parliaments, but concerns have been raised that vulnerable people would suffer under such laws.

Cherish life

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is “not convinced” by the idea, and is worried “about legalising euthanasia because people might be pushed into things that they do not actually want for themselves”.

The Guardian newspaper has warned: “Reshaping the moral landscape is no alternative to cherishing life and the living.”

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