Channel 4’s Dispatches set to rumble the undertakers

Charles 90 Comments
Charles

Clement Freud arrives for his funeral

 

“Dispatches lifts the lid on the funeral industry. Using undercover filming, Jackie Long investigates what really happens to our loved ones when they die.”

Monday June 25 at 8.00pm. Channel 4. 

In certain districts of Funeralworld, fear stalks the streets.

Cancel all other appointments.

 

 

 

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Jenny Uzzell
10 years ago

Hmmmm

andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

mmm, I shall be installed in front of the box for what looks extremely interesting, now who remembers the C4 documentary on Dignity during the late 1990’s (or possibly earlier)………….?

……..now I’m not intending to ‘run a book’ on the likely content but let’s hope that ‘economies of scale’ (sic) and the industrial estate warehouse facilities make an appearance

and a very fine photo of Leverton’s bearers arriving at St Bride’s, it is too

andrew

Charles
Charles
10 years ago

Andrew, you are brilliant. The right church, the right funeral director. You are a walking thanatopedia.

As to the content, from what I understand you will not be disappointed.

Very good to hear from you!

andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

Charles

and thankyou

best

andrew

Richard Russell
Richard Russell
10 years ago

Hi Andrew, I to have a vague recollection of the said early 90’s documentary! Does anybody actually remember the title? Would really like to see it again possibly on Youtube? I had a feeling it was probably a Panorama for the BBC? Anyhow, great undercover reporting. All the best.

Maggie
10 years ago

Richard, are you thinking of ‘Last Rights’ – made by Ben Anderson. I have it on DVD if you’re interested in seeing it.

Rosie
10 years ago

Exciting times Charles. Yours truly returns to BBC1 breakfast next week, part of a feature on the financial worries faced by some families and the funeral solutions they have come up with.
Filming this week, would be funny if screened on ‘Black” Monday too. Hope our website doesn’t crash this time. 10,000 hits in a few mins is pretty hectic for the poor old NDC IT.
Can you make it to the Natural Death Handbook 5 launch? It wouldn’t be a party without you.
X Rosie.

Jed
Jed
10 years ago

May 12th1998 Undercover Britain Channel Four- Last Rites prompted an OFT investigation. (According to The Independent via Google.) OFT report 346 is apparently downloadable from http://www.oft.gov.uk for those of us young enough/busy enough/ not yet seduced enough by the industry to have missed its publication in 2001! It’s probably time for a revue as a cursory glance left me disappointed at how little seems to have filtered into practice. Eg: Full information outside premises and on all literature, as to who is the ultimate owner. Written price lists and full quotations for clients to take away and subsequently approve. Full… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 years ago

What else has Jackie Long done? As to the content of this documentary, let’s not assume it’s only the Big Boys he/she is after… you know what dogged reporters can be like when they get a bit of someone’s leg between their teeth; they couldn’t give a monkey’s whose it is.

andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

Jed That’s the one and thanks, it depicted the business model of the then SCI (UK) and particularly an ‘undercover’ (new) employee who was ‘armed’ with a waist level Camera, who filmed internal meetings and some ‘mortuary work’, which didn’t go down too well (an understatement) after the documentary was screened. From memory, said SCI employees were treating bodies with less than decent respect and ummm this backfired on SCI who had to rapidly close/scale down their then busy operation in a certain Cathedral City, only to rebrand it with the Roman name of said City. Rebranded business then virtually… Read more »

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

You make a very good point, Jonathan.

As for that OFT report, Jed, it’s gathered a lot of dust. A pity, because it raised hopes and expectations. Time for a Peasants’ Revolt?

Richard Russell
Richard Russell
10 years ago

Thankyou for the info Maggie, I would be indebted to you for a copy of the Ben Anderson DVD! Also may I say what a great website you have. All the best

Simon Irons
Simon Irons
10 years ago

No winners will result from this type of programme and I think Jonathan is spot of when he says that it wont be just the big boys featured. Anyone that thinks small is beautiful should watch the BBC “Britain’s Youngest Funeral Director” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq9Ar_84wZo small family firm, no proper mortuary, stained floor, watching Youtube clips of the deceased in the Chapel, eating and drinking in close proximity of the deceased being embalmed…. need I go on…. as I say no winners. Thinking back to the SCI expose, at least one of the contributors was quite rightly made out as a bit… Read more »

Mr XX
Mr XX
10 years ago

Having helped out a little, I am so looking forward to this being broadcast. I wonder if my NAFD or SAIF Membership is under threat? Ho Hum. The more time passes, the more convinced I become that the public get what they deserve. A little research, a few minutes on the telephone and they could transform their funeral experience and save substantial sums. Simon. You are a little harsh. A ‘proper’ mortuary does not a good funeral director make. In some circumstances, I feel eating and drinking in the proximity of the deceased normalises the process? I’d certainly prefer that… Read more »

Rosie
10 years ago

I agree Mr xx, I also found the interest paid in the deceased singer’s career, watching him on the smart phone, reassuring and respectful. It showed the difference between this family firm’s staff and the complete detachment of larger firms’ back room boys. They usually lack knowledge of who the customers are and how they lived and I would imagine some couldn’t care less. This, I believe, is behind other major problems as witnessed in the Ben Anderson film from 14 years ago! Would those in that film have used the dead lady’s hand to jokingly rub their colleague’s lower… Read more »

Simon irons
Simon irons
10 years ago

Some of you guys are unbelievable……… I have worked with the large, very large small and very small, down to my own one man band operation and have seen the good and the bad in all of them, apart form the one man band of course! But you will never convince me that surfing the net and using mobiles in a chapel is appropriate or that bare concrete and stained floors in an embalming room that was quite clearly not fit for purpose is appropriate, respectful or acceptable, but the what do I know. It’s perfectly possible to create ann… Read more »

Mr XX
Mr XX
10 years ago

Dear Dear Simon. Are you really saying you approve of open shed style warehouse mortuaries, as used by the largest operators? I don’t think any client shown these facilities would notice the floor covering. I too have simple equipment, stainless steel tables, tiled rooms etc. And yes, I even drink tea, eat and make calls on occasion in the vicinity of open coffins. I don’t think it disrespectful. It all helps normalise what we do. My children grew up playing in and around the deceased. One Sunday afternoon, called in to work, I caught my younger daughter aged five or… Read more »

Simon Irons
Simon Irons
10 years ago

Mr Xx

I rest my case ……….

andrew plume
andrew plume
10 years ago

in the interests of transparency but of course (something that the big boys can be coy about), MrXX, you should unveil yourself

andrew

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

Gentlemen, If I may suggest….. that you could both be right. Surely it depends on the local circumstances. What would be perfectly necessary and acceptable in central London, would be wholly out of place on, say, a small Scottish island. The expectations of an undertaker carrying out maybe 5 funerals a year, against 5 a day are miles apart, but both are likely to arrive at the facilities and practices appropriate to each other’s surroundings. Even the Law allows for such differences. Someone jumping up and down, shouting at the top of their voices at midnight on Blackpool promenade would… Read more »

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

That, of course, should read …. “but both are likely to arrive at the facilities and practices appropriate to each’s surroundings”.

And Andrew….. methinks that Mr XX has indeed unveiled himself already…..

David Holmes
10 years ago

The trade is buzzing! Fear and trepidation abound.

The word is that a journalist has (again) been working undercover. As I write, I would guess the considerable legal resources usually deployed by the giants of the industry are working hard to stop the broadcast! My fingers are crossed that these efforts fail and the audience and fallout are as big as possible. A better informed public is exactly what this business requires.

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

Reading one or two of the comments here leaves a very nasty taste in my mouth I’m sorry to say. It seems some are licking their lips in anticipation of what may be revealed in the forthcoming doco and who might be involved. Im especially disturbed by Mr XX and his strange habits he practices in his premises (he sounds like a particular F.D we have in our area,a man of huge smugness and a massive turnover of staff) eating around deceased and letting children play (in!!) and around deceased. I’m sure your families would be overjoyed to hear your… Read more »

Charles
Charles
10 years ago

A. N. Employee, thank you very much for writing in and giving the other side of the argument. A one-sided debate gets very dull. So thank you, too, Simon, for bringing things up short, too.

One thing that strikes me is that the industry never carries out market research into – well, anything. There’s something to be said for putting this to those on whose behalf fd’s work and finding out what they expect. Let the people deliver an informed judgement.

Wayne Dennis
10 years ago

As Howard Hodgson said, if a funeral director bit their tongue while talking about their rivals, they’d probably die of septicaemia.

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

I forgot just how witty Howard could be.

Priceless!!

Craig
Craig
10 years ago

As an employee of a big F.D i can safey assume that this documentery will be of no benifet to anyone. It will make the F.Ds look ‘bad’ (Not having a grief stricken face all day) when they are just doing their job, a job that the majority COULDN’T do and will cause further distress to any familys that have an upcoming funeral to attend.

If the public wanted to know what happened behind the scenes i would gladley show them around, but knowing channel 4 it will be out for blood, and eddited so it gets it.

Craig
Craig
10 years ago

I agree with Mr. Irons

David Holmes
10 years ago

No-one forced the big boys to combine mortuaries and parking garages on industrial estates.

The desire for greater profit drives this hub and spoke business model. If there is nothing wrong with it, what do you have to fear from seeing it on TV?

Personally I hope the programme focuses on transparency of ownership. Why are the Co-op so coy? If they are really proud of their brand and service, they should make it obvious on their websites and premises that they are owners and managers.

Quentin Fuddy Duddy
Quentin Fuddy Duddy
10 years ago

Where are these mortuaries/garages on industrial estates? They’re not something I’ve come accross before so quite curious about this. One central office serving several funeral homes isn’t the preserve of “big boys”. There’s plenty of independents that run multi site businesses and do not have mortuaries, garages, stock etc at each funeral home.
Some typically short sighted comments already on here and thatS before the documentary. Come 8-30pm on Monday nobody working within the profession will be any better off an those that require the services of funeral professionals will certainly be no better off.

Richard Russell
Richard Russell
10 years ago

A good point Mr.Holmes, I for one would like to see the Co-operative brand on all of their privately named premises. At least (the disgusting & over priced) “Dignity” display their logo which is enough to make the public think twice…

Harry
Harry
10 years ago

The vast majority of FDs are caring professionals doing a difficult job, be they independant, part of a group or working for one of the ‘big two’.
Those taking this opportunity to snipe at their professional collegues should think very carefully about what they are saying.
One thing is certain. This ‘show’ will not be representative of the funeral profession as a whole but will paint us all in as bad a light as possible for the sake of sensationalism.

Does anyone actually have any confirmed details about this TV show?
Which company/companies are involved etc?

Jonathan
Jonathan
10 years ago

It would be lovely, wouldn’t it, to think this could be a chance for an objective and disinterested insight into an area of life normally hidden from people until they’re in no emotional state to make a sufficiently objective judgement to make good use of it at time of need.

But no, this is TV, and one suspects that unless it makes Madame Funeral Profession appear to get her tits out for the lads it’ll assume no-one wants to watch.

Charles Cowling
10 years ago

Good point, Harry. Two major faults of the media: they too often fail to treat a subject in depth, and they too often sensationalise. If Dispatches has found evidence of damnable behaviour, then those responsible deserve to be outed and damned, who could argue against that? What would be a grave injustice is if the programme does not balance appallingly bad practice against extraordinarily good practice. There are funeral directors out there who conduct their businesses in a way which is sensationally good – far better than most people would ever suppose. I can think of a good many who… Read more »

David Holmes
10 years ago

I do think a 30 minute slot – less commercials, is likely to leave us all disappointed. The actual programme content could be as little as 22 minutes.

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

Go into any privately named funeralcare branch and you will see the co-operative logo and name over all the brochures and framed pictures there.
Also the letterheads display the private name and state co-operative funeralcare on them.
Enough transparency for you?

David Holmes
10 years ago

No. And I don’t think that’s true in my experience. These days the web presence is just as important.

As we all know, once a family is through the door, it is most unlikely they will leave because they happen to spot a small ownership notice on the wall buried among the Diploma’s. The Co-op know exactly what they are doing and I assume, operate just within the law.

David Holmes
10 years ago

Have you seen any Fairways Partnership branches?

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

A.N. Employee, Talking about transparency and Cooperative Funeralcare, you reminded me of a visit last year to Whipps Cross Hospital in London, to remove a client. It appears that the Bereavement office and mortuary service at the hospital is run by the COOP. A somewhat unusual and possibly far-sighted arrangement by the hospital. The (public) bereavement office is decorated in full COOP Funeralcare colours, with staff in corporate Funeralcare uniform and badges. Unusual, and arguably on the cusp of being misinterpreted, but probably “just” (and only just)professionally acceptable. What I personally found totally unacceptable, was the Funeralcare coffin brochure that… Read more »

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

I have no knowledge of this arrangement so cannot offer any worthy argument to the contrary,sorry. Now we could go on and on about why “small” have a beef with “large” organisations (or vice versa)but that would be a tiresome and pointless exercise that could run for ever. We are all in this business to offer the very best we can to our families be we large or small and what I don’t like to see is all this venomous rubbing of hands wishing ill on our competitors and from what Ive been reading on here it would appear that… Read more »

Simon Irons
Simon Irons
10 years ago

David I don’t think I have said I agree or disagree with large or small mortuary facilities. in fact my view is that size does not matter, it’s what goes on within that counts. Poor standards and poor behaviours have to be removed form out profession but the behaviours of any specific individual should not be allowed to taint the whole business or group of businesses. Dispatches exposed specific nursin home staff abusing elderly patients but that does not mean all nursing home care staff or all those working there were guilty as well. You clealy have a very successful… Read more »

Tarquin
10 years ago

Quentin

One example that springs to mind is Unit 2, Bogmoor Place, Glasgow, G51 4TQ.

Here is a convenient url to see it on Bing Maps:

http://binged.it/KRFuxk

Unit 1 (the left hand side of the building) is the Funeralcare coffin manufacturing plant. Unit 2 (the right hand side of the building) is the regional body warehouse. They have a large mortuary, embalming facilities, a large garage area, offices, etc.

This warehouse is on an industrial estate. It also holds the deceased for a large part of the Funeralcare Glasgow region. If I was that bothered I could post more…

David Holmes
10 years ago

Simon. You’re very sensitive. Is this because you feel stung? Do you work for funeralcare? I’m afraid if you are going to criticize grammar, you need to write better than you do! For example, what is a ‘fully compliment embalming room’ for goodness sake? At my disposal, I have every facility needed to run a successful funeral business. My office is stacked full of cards from grateful families who appreciated a personal caring approach. I may add, just in case you do have the misfortune to work for a ghastly Co-op, my facilities are not in a shed on an… Read more »

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

The smell of self righteousness and sour grapes are in abundance….what a shame.

Richard Russell
Richard Russell
10 years ago

Never a truer sentance written A.N.Employee!! Total agreement with you there.

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

“The smell of self righteousness and sour grapes are in abundance….what a shame”.

I sincerely hope that this comment does not refer to me.

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

Blimey Nick I thought you were following this thread!
I don’t believe you’ve posted anything that warrants that reference.

“Competition has been shown to be useful
up to a certain point and no further,
but cooperation, which is the thing
we must strive for today,
begins where competition leaves off.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Simon Irons
Simon Irons
10 years ago

Tarquin Is that same Glasgow site that also house the premises of an independent funeral director……… Forgot to post that didn’t you! David You have at your disposal ? Think that means you have these facilities a your HUB David, I think I can be forgiven for having fat fingers and a small keypad whenposting on an intenet blog, on a client facing website designed to enhance and promote the reputation of my business I think you can be assured that I would be a a little more careful with my grammar or even get the information correct (since when… Read more »

A.N.Employee
A.N.Employee
10 years ago

Amen to your eloquent post Simon.
And they most definitely don’t come across as self righteous.
However I did break a smile whilst reading them 😉

Nick Gandon
10 years ago

A.N.Employee,

TA! Just Checking….

“Competition has been shown to be useful
up to a certain point and no further,
but cooperation, which is the thing
we must strive for today,
begins where competition leaves off.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

Agree 100%

Nick