Programme – “A Time to Live”

The above programme was shown on BBC 2 last Wednesday at 21.00 – a series of interviews with 12 people who had terminal cancer, men and women, young and old. I was in two minds whether to watch it or not, being a survivor myself, but I decided to have a look.

I only watched 4 of the interviews and then I turned off the television and had a think about what I had just seen. Why was this programme made I wondered? What was the point? The 4 interviews I watched started out all right; the interviewees were positive, intending to celebrate and enjoy the time they had left, but after some probing questions they became very upset, struggling not to cry. You didn’t see the interviewer, you could only hear the questions asked.

One question put to a young woman – “Do you feel you were cheated of your life?” – and of course the girl said yes, her face contorting. Dying mothers and fathers were interviewed, their distress obvious as they spoke of their children growing up and getting married without them being there.

I can’t see how this programme was of any benefit to anyone. The participants couldn’t have felt any better for it; perhaps they thought it would somehow benefit other terminal people. And the viewers? Were you supposed to watch and think – thank God it’s not me or mine? Or were you supposed to enjoy a good cry at the expense of these terribly ill people?

I expect the BBC had good intentions but I feel this programme was exploitative and distasteful; it made me angry and I won’t be tempted again by anything of this sort.

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