Widow defends tv documentary

PUBLISHED: 11:58 02 August 2007 | UPDATED: 15:12 12 May 2010

WIDOW Barbara Pointon hopes a new documentary about her husband s death will raise awareness of Alzheimer s. And she has condemned critics for branding the film undignified. The documentary, Malcolm and Barbara: Love s Farewell is an update of the 1999 do

WIDOW Barbara Pointon hopes a new documentary about her husband's death will raise awareness of Alzheimer's.

And she has condemned critics for branding the film undignified.

The documentary, Malcolm and Barbara: Love's Farewell is an update of the 1999 documentary Malcolm and Barbara: A Love Story, and shows the final days of the life of Malcolm Pointon, a former Cambridge University music lecturer.

He developed Alzheimer's at the age of 51, and died in February this year, aged 66.

Mrs Pointon was his main carer for the duration of the illness.

Mrs Pointon, of Thriplow, said she hoped the film will help raise the profile of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

"The main purpose of the film was to keep Alzheimer's in the spotlight, it's a disease which has been in the shadows for too long.

"Alzheimer's has overtaken cancer as the second biggest killer in the UK after heart disease, yet we are at the point where cancer was 40 years ago in terms of public exposure," she said.

The documentary has generated a lot of media attention after it was initially claimed that it portrayed the moment of Mr Pointon's death.

It has subsequently been revealed that he died three days after filming stopped.

John Beyer, director of pressure group Mediawatch UK, said: "There is a certain dignity in death that is not appropriate for people to gawp at on television.

"The moment of death is something that should be private."

Mrs Pointon criticised Mediawatch, who she says is using the programme to publicise themselves.

She said: "These people don't know all the facts and are just riding on the back of this documentary to get publicity for their organisation.

"I was on a radio show with Mr Beyer last week and I asked him if he had actually seen the film and he said he had not.

"When we started the original documentary in 1995, all of us - including Malcolm - agreed that it should go on right to the end.

"Paul Watson, the director, started filming again in 2004, so it's not as if a TV crew rushed in five minutes before Malcolm died, it was a long process coming to a natural conclusion and we felt viewers needed to see that.

"The film does not actually show Malcolm's death. I have used the word death because it shows the point at which the dying process begins.

"This is a 90-minute programme, and I am disappointed that 30 seconds of film is overshadowing the bigger issues involved," she concluded.

- Malcolm and Barbara: Love's Farewell will be screened on ITV1 on Wednesday at 9pm.


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