Stacey Dooley tackled death head-on in her latest documentary, Inside the Undertakers, and has been praised by viewers for shedding light on a not-often-discussed topic.
The documentarian spent weeks working with the Nottinghamshire-based funeral director AW Lymn, learning about the processes that a human body goes through from death to burial or cremation.
In one of the most striking moments of the film, which aired on Thursday (9 November), Dooley accompanied an undertaker to the mortuary, where they had to identify an infant body among others.
“Obviously not the most comfortable environment; we’re not often exposed to death,” Dooley notes. Turning her attention to the small bag that contained the infant’s body, Dooley was visibly shaken and fought tears.
“You can’t help but think about the parents of that baby,” she explained.
Dooley, 36, opened the film by telling partner Kevin Clifton about her fears of her own mortality. “I just want to live forever, which I appreciate isn’t gonna come true,” she said. In making this film, she hoped to feel more comfortable with the idea of dying one day by spending time with those who dealt with mortality constantly.
Elsewhere in the BBC One programme, Dooley met an 80-year-old woman called Pat who was planning her own funeral.
“I’d prefer to sort it out and get it prepared,” Pat explained about her decision to make her arrangements ahead of time. “In dealing with it, you get along with living.”
When watching one of the employees embalming a body, Dooley noted how much care went into preparing a dead body for viewing by loved ones.
“There’s also something quite human about it,” she said. “They take great care and put a comb through their hair... The respect that goes into their work is really commendable.”
Dooley also met a grieving mother named Danielle, whose daughter, Lexi, died of a rare childhood cancer aged 10.
“It’s your worst nightmare come true,” Dooley said to the cameras, before praising how “dignified” Danielle has been through the process.
On social media, viewers have shared their responses to the programme, with many praising Dooley’s handling of a difficult topic.
“Even as a funeral director, you never get over how horrifying collecting a dead child from a mortuary is,” one commenter wrote on X/Twitter. “I think she handled that really well.”
One viewer added that the programme had “been a tough watch”, while another commented on the contrasting feelings the show had provoked: “Such an interesting watch but really quite emotional.”
Another X/Twitter user wrote: “Love these Stacey Dooley programmes but bloody hell this one’s got my eyes like waterfalls.”
Stacey Dooley: Inside the Undertakers is available to watch on BBC iPlayer.