Andrew Lloyd Webber: 'I went through a moment of deep depression - I actually got the forms for Dignitas'

The composer weighs in on the assisted dying debate

Andrew Lloyd-Webber says that he once considered assisted dying, after a series of medical issues.

The composer was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009, which he recovered from.

“It was the most virulent form, but I was very lucky,” he said. “I didn’t think I was going to die – just that I must have the wretched [cancer] removed so that I could get on with my job.”

Then a leg pain led to a back operation and a consequent 14 general anaesthetic procedures and he found himself struggling to cope.

“There were days when I thought that I would do anything to get out of this,” he told The Telegraph.

“I adore my work, and I thought that if I could not do that, then I had nothing more. I went through a moment of deep depression – that awful moment when you think that you must find a way out. I actually got the forms for Dignitas. With hindsight, it was stupid and ridiculous, but I couldn’t think what to do.”

However, despite his chronic physical pain, he decided to work through his medical problems rather than end his life.

“I got through the show I was working on, but it was murder. I was on every sort of painkiller there is… I couldn’t think what to do,” he recalled. “In the end, I threw away the forms.”

Today, he has serious reservations about assisting dying – an issue that is currently being discussed in Parliament as Lord Falconer strives to have a bill passed to legalise it.

Lloyd Webber’s view stems from his mother who wished to die before her terminal breast cancer meant that she became a “burden” from her family. Her sons felt that she was not ready to die, and the law stopped her from doing so.

She eventually died "peacefully" five years later, aged 72.

“If people get to a point where their lives are so impossible, I would agree with the Bill,” he said. “What concerns me, and I suspect many others, is what floodgates would [this measure] open? Does it create a culture where older people are a burden? In 20 years’ time, signing off on the deaths of old people might not be taken as seriously as it is now. I am totally unsure.”

Read more: The case for assisted dying: compassion, choice and safety
Assisted dying could create "death squads"
Lord Joffe compares assisted dying to abolition of slavery
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum