Kieron McCarron/BBC/PA

EastEnders suicide storyline doesn't "mirror" real life, says Christian campaigner

Tue 17 May 2016
By Hannah Tooley

A Christian campaigner says it is "sad" that EastEnders will show an assisted suicide story-line on BBC on Tuesday.

Alistair Thompson, a Christian from the secular group Care Not Killing, was speaking after the programme has revealed that famous character Peggy Mitchell, played by Barbara Windsor, will die alone in the soap after asking her son to help end her life.

He told Premier: "It's so sad that the BBC are taking the easy option in promoting assisted suicide yet again, which they have done on a number of occasions, rather than looking at the much bigger issue which is how do we look after people that are terminally ill."

Mr Thompson said he was pleased that this would encourage families to speak about the subject, but stressed this is not the way to go about it: "It's an issue that we need to talk about more and deal with and I'm afraid of the very simplistic programme that deals with it in a story line which might have developed over a number of weeks and will not this issue full justice."

Peggy Mitchell reportedly pleas for her son, Phil, played by Steve McFadden, to be by her side during her final moments.

The Sun has reported that Executive Producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said: "We wanted to treat the issue of exercising the right to die carefully."

He said: "The reality is this does not resonate, it does not mirror what happens in real life.

"It does not happen in what actually takes place in the general population, very, very small numbers choose to take their own life."

The BBC Press Office told Premier that: "EastEnders has a rich history of tackling difficult social issues and Peggy's story is one of these.

"We have worked closely with leading medical experts and various charities, including the Samaritans, to ensure that this storyline is portrayed as sensitively and responsibly as possible.

"At no point do we glamourise or romanticise the issue of suicide, in fact we have taken great care to show the audience not only Peggy's perspective but the many different views of those around her."

Listen to Premier's Hannah Tooley speak to Alistair Thompson here: 

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