Prime-time Marie Curie TV advert 'will engage people on subject of dying'

Simon Garner

A heart-rending television advert that aims to challenge our attitudes to death is to be aired for the next three weeks in prime-time slots on ITV.

Directed by Tom Tagholm - the creative mind behind the widely-praised  'Meet The Superhumans' Paralympic advert for the London Games - and commissioned by the charity Marie Curie, it is hoped the campaign will 'get a conversation going' on the issue.

The new advert, called 'Symmetry', contrasts the first steps we make in life with our final moments.

It shows significant first experiences such as a kiss, and juxtaposes them with poignant moments at the end of life such as an older couple holding hands for the last time.

The advert, which features a real Marie Curie nurse and actors playing the patients, concludes by flashing up a message to the viewer that reads: 'Your last moments should mean as much as your first.'

Marie Curie spokesman Chris Dainty admitted the advert was challenging and may upset some viewers, but said he had been encouraged by the reaction from social communities who had been given a preview of the footage.

He told The Times: "We know this will provoke emotions and I expect it will upset some people if it comes at a bad time for them. But we wanted something that would engage people, get them talking to their friends, get a conversation going. After all, the issue is universal. Everyone is going to face it."

He added: "We’re really encouraged by how people have engaged with the campaign – even before the new ad has aired on TV."

Find out more about the work of Marie Curie

Director Tom Tagholm said he saw a clear connection between this project and the Paralympic campaign, and hoped it would help people feel more hopeful and less frightened about death.

He said: "The charity is very special and I thought the optimism of the idea was interesting.
"In the same way as the Paralympics, it would be great to get people thinking about dying in a different, more optimistic way.
"The Paralympics were saying: ‘Here are athletes at the height of their game. This event is about intense competition and dynamism, and there is not even a smidgen of pity.’ Similarly with Marie Curie, it is putting death into a different context, the context of life."

The advert sees the launch Marie Curie's annual fundraising appeal, the Great Daffodil Appeal.

The appeal encourages everyone to give a donation and wear one of the charity’s daffodil pins during March. Marie Curie is hoping to raise £7 million from the appeal this year which will help provide 350,000 hours of free nursing care.

Marie Curie nurses provide care to people with a terminal illness and support for their loved ones, allowing families to spend their final weeks, days or hours with the people and things they love close by.