Terry Pratchett: Choosing to die

Posted on: 13 June 2011 by Gareth Hargreaves

Author Sir Terry Pratchett looks at one of society's most difficult subjects - assisted death.

Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry, who suffers from the early onset of Alzheimer's disease, has considered taking his own life once the condition becomes too much for him to bear. Tonight, in Terry Pratchett: choosing to die, he meets three men with degenerative conditions, all of whom have been faced with the same difficult choices that Sir Terry must grapple with, as well as some of the families that have been left behind.

Two British men have chosen different paths - Mick (who suffers from motor neurone disease) and Andrew (who suffers from multiple sclerosis).

While Mick has chosen to stay in the UK and opt for hospice care, Andrew has turned to Dignitas, a not-for-profit organisation in Switzerland. Sir Terry finds out more about their decisions. 

In Switzerland he joins a British couple. Peter, a motor neurone disease sufferer, has also chosen to end his life at the Dignitas clinic. Sir Terry witnesses the procedures set out for all visitors to Dignitas and in an emotional sequence, he sits with Peter and his wife and witnesses Peter's final moments.

And he meets the widow of Hugo Claus, a popular Belgian author who suffered from Alzheimer's disease and chose an assisted death in 2008.

Hugo's wife explains her husband's decision to Sir Terry.

In Sir Terry's own words: "What you are about to watch may not be easy, but I believe its important."

When to watch

BBC iPlayer now

Newsnight discussion

Following the documentary, Newsnight will include an interview with Mr Pratchett and Jeremy Paxman chairs a debate about the controversial issues surrounding assisted dying. Studio guests will be David Aaronovitch, Dr Erika Preisig, Debbie Purdy, Dinah Rose QC, Liz Carr and The Rt Revd Michael Langrish Bishop of Exeter.

BBC iPLayer

Share with friends



Do you agree with this Article? Agree 0% Disagree 0%
You need to be signed in to rate.

Loading comments...Loader