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Way to Go - Is Assisted Suicide Appropriate for a Sitcom?

The thorny issue of assisted suicide doesn't seem to be fertile, or even appropriate, ground for a television comedy. Not so, says Bob Kushell, a writer for The Simpsons and Anger Management.

Way To Go, which debuts on BBC Three this week, stars The Inbetweeners' Blake Harrison as a cash-strapped young man who sets up an assisted suicide business with his friends.

It is an unlikely, not to mention controversial, plot for a comedy, but writer Bob Kushell insists there's "pretty much no subject" that can't be looked at humorously.

"With Way To Go, assisted suicide is portrayed with great warmth and care and sensitivity, but it's not the main focus of the show."

"Even war has been seen through a comedic lens," he adds, making specific mention of MASH, the 1970s US sitcom set against the backdrop of the Korean War.

That show opened with a theme tune called Suicide Is Painless and frequently ended on a sombre note - most notably the death of Henry Blake, who was shot down after receiving his discharge papers at the end of season three.

Kushell says the comedy mainly comes from the interaction between the three main characters - Scott, his brother Joey (Ben Heathcote) and their friend Cozzo (Marc Wootton).

Stuck in a dead end job with a "go-nowhere life", Scott is continuously "conflicted". Meanwhile, Cozzo has a baby on the way and is seeking ways to support his burgeoning family.

"Scott dreams of being a doctor, but had to drop out of college because he couldn't afford it and didn't want to rely on the government. He [wants] to do good but finds himself miserable," says Kushell.

Moved by a terminally ill neighbour's request to die, and faced with paying off his brother's gambling debts, Scott and the recently unemployed Cozzo, illegally buy an assisted suicide machine.

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