Ray Martin Explores Death For ‘Unconventional’ SBS Series ‘The Last Goodbye’

Ray Martin Explores Death ‘Unconventional’ SBS

Dying. Like visiting the toilet, we all have to do it sometime but no one wants to talk about it.

Veteran journalist and broadcaster Ray Martin explores the grim subject as he plans his own funeral for the three-part SBS special “The Last Goodbye,” set to air from 14th August.

At 79 years of age, the five-time Logie Award winner, like the rest of us, isn’t getting any younger. 

Though life expectancy in Australia has improved dramatically for both sexes in the last century, Martin, statistically-speaking, can be expected to shuffle off this mortal coil in the next five years (women typically live two years longer than men, on average).

“That leaves a short window to plan his funeral and yet,” reads a statement from SBS, and, “like most Australians, he’s barely given it much thought.”

As he sets about planning his own funeral, Martin learns of trends, rituals, practicalities, and emerging tech around this most guaranteed rule of life.

Along the way, he meets with morticians, medical students, undertakers and death deniers, in a quest to understand how we approach death.

Dying doesn’t come cheap, either.

“At SBS we aren’t scared to tackle those subjects that are sometimes provocative or difficult in our programming,” comments SBS Commissioning Editor Bethan Arwel-Lewis, “so an exploration of death – one of our last taboos is the perfect subject for us to lift the lid on, and who better to take us into this world and get us talking and even laughing about death, than bone fide national treasure, Ray Martin.”

Through the series, Ray consults with Dr. Hannah Gould, cultural anthropologist and researcher in death, religion and technology, and invites friends and colleagues to join him at a “death over dinner” party. They include TV presenter, comedian and writer Gretel Killeen, landscape photographer and Christian Ken Duncan, historian Santilla Chingaipe, political satirist Mark Humphries and comedian Alex Lee.

It’s an “unconventional investigation” on a sometimes confronting subject that is “both insightful and educational,” adds Screen Australia COO Grainne Brunsdon.

“Ray Martin: The Last Goodbye” is produced by BBC Studios Productions Australia for SBS. BBC Studios will be distributing the series internationally.

Principal production funding is from Screen Australia and SBS. Financed with support from Screen NSW. The first part premieres Wednesday, 14th August at 8.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.