09 Feb 2016

OU/BBC documentary tells the poignant personal story of a choice to die

A one-off BBC/Open University co-production follows the journey of a man facing the decision of whether to end his life at a suicide clinic.

The 90-minute observational documentary “How to Die: Simon’s Choice” follows Simon, a successful business man with a loving family and large circle of friends. His world falls apart in January 2015 when he is diagnosed with an aggressive form of Motor Neurone Disease and given two years to live.

Sensitive, intimate and moving, the programme considers the conflicting perspectives of Simon’s choice and impact on his family and close friends. We see how within weeks of the diagnosis the disease causes Simon to lose the use of his voice. Faced with the prospect of a rapid physical decline, Simon tells his family that he is considering ending his life at a Swiss suicide clinic.

Shot against the back-drop of the recent parliamentary debate on the assisted dying bill, Simon’s remarkable story explores the complex human questions at the heart of this deeply divisive issue. Following Simon and his family and friends as they grapple with the huge moral, emotional and legal dilemmas around Simon's choice, his decision is in the balance until the very end. In a British TV first, the documentary gains access to Switzerland’s second largest assisted suicide clinic, which Simon visits.

Open University co-academic consultant for the series, Dr Sam Murphy, said: “This powerful and moving documentary will give viewers a unique insight into the issues around the right to die. It will make people think, not least because it also highlights the far reaching effect Simon’s choice had on his family and friends.”

The Open University has a wealth of resources on the topics featured in the programme, including a discussion hub where you can debate the issues around assisted suicide. Visit OpenLearn.

The documentary is supported by the Faculty of Health and Social Care, with particular relevance to BA (Hons) Health and Social Care (Q18) and also by the Faculty of Arts, with relevance to MA Philosophy (F30).

“How to Die: Simon’s Choice” is on Wednesday 10 February, 9pm, BBC TWO.

“How To Die: Simon’s Choice” is a Minnow Films production, made in partnership with The Open University. Filmed, produced and directed by Rowan Deacon. Executive Producer Colin Barr. Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Clare Sillery.

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