Popular UK soap under fire for assisted suicide propaganda

A spokesman for the campaign group Care Not Killing said the show glamorized euthanasia.
Fri Jun 10, 2011 - 5:55 pm EST

LONDON, June 10, 2011 ( – The long-running British soap opera, Emmerdale, has come under heavy criticism for portraying the assisted suicide of one of its characters.

The episode, which was screened on Tuesday night, showed the paralysed Jackson Walsh being fed a lethal dose of drugs by his homosexual partner and mother.

Viewers have written in on Twitter and Facebook complaining about the program, and a leading UK charity has blasted the entire storyline as an inaccurately negative portrayal of people with spinal cord injuries. The Emmerdale Facebook page has posted a link to the suicide prevention group the Samaritans for those who may have “been affected” by the program.


The UK’s TV regulator Ofcom is reported to be assessing “dozens” of complaints that the program should not have been aired at 7:30 pm., before the 9 pm. “watershed” intended to protect children from disturbing content.

The director of the spinal injury charity Aspire, Alex Rankin, said that the Jackson Walsh storyline has been “negative, unrealistic and pretty inaccurate.”

“I’ve watched it very closely and have been incredibly disappointed with how Emmerdale have portrayed Jackson’s situation.

“People with spinal injuries are not ill, they do not need to spend all their time in bed being spoon-fed soup,” he said.

It was revealed last year by the publicity manager for the soap Coronation Street that television programs are actively lobbied by various groups to produce shows with advocacy storylines. Alison Sinclair said, “We are often approached by charities or organisations with requests to incorporate their campaigns or issues into the show”.

A spokesman for the campaign group Care Not Killing said the show glamorized euthanasia: “It’s an important issue and we should talk about end-of-life matters but to show it on screen in this way is very irresponsible.”

“This programme should not have been before the watershed. For ITV to show it as they did, was inappropriate and wrong. We’re very concerned about the way assisted suicide can be shown in drama.”

  assisted suicide, emmerdale, euthanasia, uk

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