The former star of ABC’s Enough Rope Andrew Denton has spent the last year making a 17-episode podcast series called Better Off Dead, about the right to die with dignity.
The sensitive subject was also the theme of the critically acclaimed 2015 box office hit Last Cab To Darwin.
“I wanted to inform the debate and I wanted to inflame the debate,” he says. “I want politicians and doctors to stop sitting on their hands while Australians needlessly suffer.”
Andrew’s motivation for the project was sparked by the heart-breaking loss of his beloved father, author and broadcaster Kit Denton, below, who died in 1997.
“My dad, Kit, did not go gentle,” Andrew writes on wheelercentre.com, where the first four episodes can be found.
“Although clearly dying of heart failure, and obviously in great pain, he was assisted to die in the only way that Australia’s law then – and now – would allow: he was given increasing doses of morphine to settle the pain. But morphine never did settle the pain. Not his and not ours…”
Andrew knows he could have covered the topic in a more traditional manner but told Fairfax Media that he opted for a podcast because it represents “the most interesting form of storytelling happening in the media”.
Made largely on his own dime, with just him and a producer on board, Andrew visited Belgium, the Netherlands and the US state of Oregon to see how euthanasia laws worked in practice.
But, perhaps surprisingly, the starting point for his quest was a conference of opponents to euthanasia.
“I used that as the road map for this journey,” he says. “It was incredibly useful, because otherwise I wouldn’t have understood so fully what their arguments against it were.”
His varied podcast subjects also include a woman planning her own death who has since passed away and Tasmanian nurse Cathy Pryor, who was convicted over the assisted suicide of her cancer-ridden father but freed after 12 days in prison
To read Jules Allen’s touching column How To Say Goodbye To Your Mum, click here.