Assisted suicide

Earlier this week I was making a cup of tea in the BBC Nottingham kitchen, while a wild haired man with very red cheeks was holding court with a couple of producers.  He was Ray Gosling, a veteran TV presenter, well loved in the East Midlands. He has a great style and a fantastically  rich Nottingham accent. He was about to become well known throughout the country.

That night a documentary aired on the Inside Out regional strand, broadcast only in the East Midlands area, which is roughly speaking Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, with a bit of Lincolnshire. In the programme Ray told how, many years ago,  he smothered to death his young lover with a pillow. He stressed it wasn’t his lifelong partner, but a ‘bit on the side’. It was an act of mercy,  he said, as the young man was dying of Aids and was in a lot of pain.

I’m actually in favour of assisted suicide. I can’t see the point of life going on, if the person doesn’t want it to.  If I was in a lot of pain, I would want my friends and family to help me out.  The problem of course is people helping you out of this world, when you don’t give them permission.  I’m sure there are many families, not as loving as mine, where inheritance might be mistaken for illness.  But I think if you are planning to kill someone it probably not a good idea to go on TV afterwards and say you’ve done it.  While many people will sympathise with you, the law has to be seen to be upheld, and that means the police are going to come calling.

The next day I was leaving the BBC building just as the police arrived to interview my friends and colleagues who’d made the feature.  Ray Gosling had appeared on BBC Breakfast News and confirmed the story. He was surprised it had caused a national outcry, as he’d only appeared on a programme in ‘his country’.

When I drive up to the East Midlands most Monday mornings, I don’t recall going through passport control.  So I think he was a bit naive to assume that it might have different laws to the rest of the UK

He was taken in for questioning the following day. We wait to see what will happen to him.

He could well have made the whole thing up. He is a bit whimsical.  He hasn’t given any details of who the person was, or where it happened.

As he clearly thinks he’s above the law, saying he ‘made it up’ might turn out to be his best option.

Well done to my colleagues who made the programme. It was great storytelling in the finest tradition of the BBC. I hope it wins awards. One day when the licence fee has been abolished and we are watching wall to wall rubbish on satellite, this programme will pop up on a channel called UK Dave Gold or the like.  Anyone watching will be reminded of how brilliant the BBC used to be, before the feature is interrupted at an unsuitable point by an advert for Cillit Bang.

Jem 17th Feb 2010 –  Twickenham