‘My Wonderful Life’ springs surprises, from beyond the grave, for four families.
Made over three years and with support from Dying Matters, My Wonderful Life (Chalkboard TV), which premiered last night on Sky One, follows four terminally ill people as they make plans for the end of their life and set out their final wishes.
The four also plan personal, and often emotional, surprises for their loved ones to be carried out after they die and record videos, which are played for their loved ones one year after they died.
Solihull Pop Chorus was asked by the programme makers to perform a very special surprise from West Bromwich Albion supporter Ian Edmunds, who died in 2016 aged 56, for his wife Christine.
After surprising his brother with a trip to The Hawthorns (and apologising for going to a match on his wedding day), and his cousin with a trip down memory lane with Slade’s Noddy Holder, Ian, who lived in Wolverhampton, sent Christine back to the place where he proposed – the historic Ironbridge in Telford.
Walking along the towpath, she looked up and saw more than 100 members of Solihull Pop Chorus singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, Ian and Christine’s favourite song, from the bridge. She then joined the choir on the bridge to release yellow balloons in his memory.
In the programme you see Anya Small, Choir Director of Solihull Pop Chorus, present Christine with a wonderful book, written by Ian, celebrating their life together.
She said: “It was an honour and a privilege to be asked to do this and to be part of Ian’s surprise for Christine. I think we all found it to be a very emotional and thought-provoking day; to be part of their love story and to realise how important it is to say everything you need to say to those that you love. We had no real idea of just how ground-breaking this programme was when we were approached to be on it, but I don’t think I will ever forget the look on Christine’s face as she came round the corner and saw us for the first time, as the song floated down from the bridge.”
The series also shows participants planning for their own highly personalised funerals and the impact this has on their friends and family. Solihull-based National Association of Funeral Directors has warmly welcomed the programme’s contribution to the wider campaign to encourage people to talk about the end of life.
NAFD President Alison Crake said: “This is a wonderful and uplifting programme and I hope it helps to reduce the taboo around discussing the end of life. We’ve found that, although Britons say they feel increasingly comfortable talking about death and dying, it’s still not happening nearly enough. Talking about dying doesn’t make death happen any faster, but it does make it a little bit easier for those you love, when the time comes – not just on a practical level, but emotionally too.”
Adam MacDonald, director of Sky One, added: “I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of the contributors who’ve worked on this programme, over the last few years, for sharing their lives with us over this most challenging of times. They have, together with Chalkboard, produced a really important piece of television that is a brave, bold, moving, funny, sad, uplifting celebration of life and the importance of memory.”
My Wonderful Life continues on Sky One on Thursdays at 9pm and Episode 1 featuring Solihull Pop Chorus is available to watch on NOW TV and on Sky (https://www.sky.com/watch/title/series/d55e66ff-124c-4467-aee9-6bae293dafc4/my-wonderful-life)