At 9 pm tonight in London, 4 pm in Toronto, a British TV show will broadcast the assisted suicide of an American man with an incurable motor neurone disease.
Craig Ewert, 59, died two years ago at a Swiss clinic. His death, the result of ingesting a lethal dose of barbiturates, is part of the documentary Right To Die? by Oscar-winning Canadian director John Zaritsky, who last year released the documentary The Suicide Tourist.
His death, for which Ewert paid $3,000 (US), has sparked a debate in Britain about assisted suicide, where the practice is illegal. Dr. Peter Saunders, director of the campaign group Care Not Killing, said the show was a "cynical attempt to boost television ratings."
"There is a growing appetite from the British public for increasingly bizarre, reality shows. It's a slippery slope. The danger is that we start to believe in a story that there is such a thing as a life not worth living."
Ewart's wife of 37 years, Mary, was at his side for the suicide and defended his decision.
"For Craig, my husband, allowing the cameras to film his last moments in Zurich was about facing the end honestly. This wasn't a film about him personally. He was keen to have it shown because when death is hidden and private, people don't face their fears about it. They don't acknowledge that it is going to happen, they don't reflect on it, they don't want to face it. That's the taboo."
Ewart defends his decision himself in a clip from Sky Real Lives posted to the Sky TV web site.
His final momentsshow Ewert being given a last-minute chance to back out, and his wife supporting him.
“Mr Ewert, if you drink this you are going to die,” the Dignitas staffer who prepared the mixture says.
Undaunted Mr Ewert drinks the mixture through a straw.
“Give me some apple juice. Please can I have some music?” he then asks.
As the moment of death approaches Mrs Ewert asks Mr Ewert: “Can I give you a kiss?”
“Of course,” Mr Ewert says. Ms Ewert says:
“I love you,” to which her husband replies, “I love you, sweetheart, so much.”
“Have a safe journey, I will see you some time,” Ms Ewert says.
Moments before his eyes close for the final time Mr Ewert says: “Thank you.”
His wife then says: “Safe journey. Have a good sleep.”