An elderly cancer patient will be shown taking his dying breath on national television in a UK first.

Gerald, 84, was filmed on his deathbed on BBC science show Inside The Human Body.

Gerald is the first person to die on national television in Britain.

The BBC’s decision to film the harrowing moment has been slammed by Mediawatch and MPs, who think the show is being insensitive. 

“It fills me with unease,” said Vivienne Pattison of Mediawatch. “Death is an incredibly private moment for family and friends and I am concerned this is going out prime-time on BBC One, that’s a big entertainment slot.”

Gerald’s moment of death is shown as his head relaxes into his pillow and his eyes roll back.

His grieving family cry at his bedside and say goodbye as he slips away.

The final two months of Gerald’s life were filmed for the show.

In the programme, Gerald, who had liver and lung cancer, says: “I don’t want to die but evidently, unless some miracle happens I ain’t going to be here very long so let’s get on with my life as best I can.

“I’m not frightened. I believe it will not be just like cutting off tape with some scissors. It might be, but either way I just have blind trust I shall not disappear completely.

“I’m grateful for each day and in the morning I always say ‘thank you for another day’.”

But critics have said that death should be a private matter.

Dr Peter Saunders, of Care Not Killing, added: “Some aspects of life are so personal that even if individuals give their consent to be broadcast, we are wiser to keep them private without crossing this rubicon.”

Tory MP John Whittingdale, chair of the Culture, Media and Sports select committee, warned: “Death is usually something that should not be turned into a spectacle for a TV audience.”

A BBC spokesman defended the show. He said: “Death is an important part of the human experience, and showing Gerald’s death is integral to understanding what happens to the body when it is no longer able to function properly.”

“The BBC does not shy away from difficult subjects like this.”