April 21, 2019
Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure: Miriam Margolyes’ new documentary
iNews, Laura Martin
It’s all around us, it’s never going to stop and it’s going to happen to all of us at some point. So why don’t we talk more about death?
It’s a question Miriam Margolyes wants to explore in a new BBC documentary, Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure, which is fittingly being aired on Easter Sunday, the day Jesus is believed to have risen from the dead.
The actress examines why death is still a dirty word in the UK
When is it on?
Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure is on BBC Two on Sunday 21 April at 9pm. There are two episodes in the series.
What’s the premise and where does she travel to?
Margolyes confronts her fear of ageing and death to tackle our greatest taboo – our own mortality. She travels through the UK, Europe and America to take an unflinching look at different approaches and attitudes to dealing with death.
Miriam starts her journey at Wren Hall, a UK dementia care home, to see what getting old might actually look like. Are there are any real alternatives to facing our inevitable decline? She also attends a Coffin Club in Hastings and tries a IKEA-like flat-pack coffin for size.
In Amsterdam, Margolyes meets Exit International founder and pro-assisted dying advocate Dr Philip Nitschke, who shows her his prototype for a ‘suicide pod’.
In America, Miriam meets people who are trying to achieve unlimited lifespans by thinking and feeling differently about death. She joins the world’s largest gathering of radical life extension enthusiasts at the Revolution Against Ageing and Death Festival in California.
Thousands of people are willing to go to extreme lengths to avoid ageing with radical medical and technological advances. She discovers a growing industry of people selling the secrets of how to stay alive long enough to live forever. Energised but not entirely convinced, Miriam wonders if technology and a different mental attitude aren’t the only ways to stave off death.
For some, a long life is based on healthy living and religious devotion. Loma Linda, near San Diego, is one of the world’s five Blue Zones where people live longer than anyone else on earth. It’s also home to over 9,000 Seventh Day Adventists – strict believers in healthy living and a devotion to God. Residents of Loma Linda survive 10 years longer than the average American. Miriam joins the three-hour exercise regime of the local sprightly pensioners to learn more.
At the Church Of Perpetual Life in Florida, Miriam meets a community who are devoted to science rather than God. The community hopes to prolong their lives with expensive supplements until immortality can be achieved through scientific breakthroughs.
What does Margolyes say about her film?
“Death is unacknowledged and unwelcome. We don’t talk about it; it’s like a conspiracy of silence and that makes it much harder,” she says. “My discovery was that the end of life doesn’t have to be the end of joy.
“I found the whole experience special because I was being forced to confront something I’d rather not confront. I met some extraordinary characters, particularly two terminally ill people who were facing death and weren’t frightened to discuss how they were dealing with it. I also met people who refused to face up to their imminent demise.
“I used to be scared of dying before I made the documentary but I’m less so now. It remains a taboo subject, though.”