The actor Sir Patrick Stewart has declared his wish to be allowed an assisted death, and has become a patron of Dignity in Dying, the group campaigning for a change in the law on assisted suicide.
"A lot of it has to do with my age," he said. "I had a heart procedure five years ago. I was 70 last year and there is something about achieving threescore years and 10, isn't there? Then I had a family member who had been very ill and quite recently I'd heard the story of an illness and a death."
He did not go into detail about his female friend's death, but said she was "driven to an extreme situation of ending their life in the most ghastly way". Sir Patrick, who was diagnosed with coronary heart disease five years ago, added: "I have the strong feeling that, should the time come for me, having had no role in my birth, I would like there to be a choice I might make about how I die."
He added such a choice "should be a right". Several high-profile figures have also expressed their support and the BBC will screen a documentary on assisted suicide presented by the author Sir Terry Pratchett.