When Jane Beckwith contacted me about appearing on a fly on the wall type series I was dubious to say the least. When I met Jane in person I quickly realised she was serious and this was for real, this series wouldn’t be looking for the cheap shot. Sure enough I soon saw the lengths they went to in order to be sensitive and respectful to both professionals and families alike. Oddly though, they never had a name for the series and when I heard it was to be named ‘Dead Good Job’ not long before transmission I cringed. Nonetheless Dead Good Job turned out to be the most thorough, insightful, professional, well thought through and sensitive, yet enjoyable and entertaining study of funerals I’ve ever seen. I loved the three-way contrast of the traditional English funeral director to the Islamic world of funerals and our own, but keeping it oh so real were the real life folks working through bereavement and one wonderful woman facing her own looming death.
In his review header Nigel Farndale of The Telegraph stated, “Dead Good Job, BBC Two’s documentary about three very different funeral directors, was funny and insightful.” Sam Wollaston of The Guardian wrote, “Paul Sinclair, a biking vicar (the “faster pastor”), also specialises in speed, though with quite a lot of fuss. He has a fleet of sidecar hearses and powerful motorcycles to carry his clients – mainly bikers – on their way. And he likes to give them a “last blast”, a final twist of the right hand, that thrilling surge forward, blistering acceleration towards wherever it is bikers go next. There’s something lovely about that.”
For me it was an honour to be featured alongside such a heartwarming traditional funeral director and fascinating Islamic funeral director. I obviously don’t buy into the traditional chap’s “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” approach, because clearly it is broken when a motorcyclist or sidecar enthusiast isn’t even offered a bike, but the whole personality and personal care at Lilleywhite’s was nonetheless fantastic. Watching the Islamic funeral service in East London was nothing short of astonishing, I thought our Hayabusa service was fast until I saw what the Taslim family has to juggle in a day! Mind you, it did make me wonder why all the Christians, atheists and others have to wait days and weeks when Muslims can get through the system in hours, something unfair there I think. That aside, total respect to the Taslims, I doubt many of us could cope with all that stress. Stepping back I have to compare the tacky TV approach where they just take a cheap shot to this very serious yet fun series for BBC Religion where Jane Beckwith, Robert Cowling and the team worked tirelessly to get it right. Respect!