Soap takes more ‘realistic’ view on assisted suicide

ITV soap Emmerdale, which shocked viewers last month with a graphic assisted suicide storyline, is now taking a “more realistic view” on the subject, according to a medical commentator.

Dr Peter Saunders, head of Christian Medical Fellowship, said the BBC could “take some lessons from ITV” over the issue, given the recent accusation of the Corporation being a “cheerleader” for assisted suicide.

Emmerdale’s plot showed paralysed Jackson Walsh being fed lethal drugs to help him commit suicide.


And while the episode showing the final moments of his life had provoked criticism, the storyline has developed so that two characters involved with his suicide are now struggling to come to terms with their actions.

As Mr Walsh’s same-sex partner worries about a murder trial over his actions, actress Pauline Quirke, who plays the dead character’s mother, told a national newspaper: “She has to live with the consequences of her actions. The story is not finished.”

The Daily Mirror also reports the mother saying: “‘And I can’t help wishing that he’d given himself a chance.'”

She adds: “‘And I get so angry… at what he did to himself… what he made us do… It’s such a waste.'”


The Emmerdale episode which showed Mr Walsh’s assisted suicide was aired two hours before the watershed.

It led to criticism, including from one viewer who said: “You shouldn’t have done that at this time of the day. Kids are watching.”

The storyline also caused Aspire, a charity which supports victims of spinal injuries, to warn that it was likely to cause “a great deal of hurt”.


Aspire’s Director of Services, Alex Rankin, said: “Emmerdale had a great opportunity to be inspirational with this storyline, to show that people who suffer similar injuries to Jackson’s can, after much adjustment, go on to live a fulfilling life.

“What worries me is that it’s basically saying that life with a spinal injury is not worth living.

“I don’t think they’ve considered how those people in Jackson’s situation will feel when they watch it.”

Related Resources