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A montage of people featured in the BBC series A Time to Live

A Time to Live

What would you do if you were told you had a terminal illness and may only have months to live? 

About the programme

Award winning film-maker Sue Bourne wanted to make a film about living, not dying. She set out to find people of all ages who had managed to find positives in their terminal prognosis and were making the most of the time they had left.

The twelve people in this thought-provoking and uplifting film range from their twenties to their late sixties. They speak eloquently and inspiringly about what they’ve discovered really matters in life. They smile and laugh and try not to cry because they say that crying and being sad is a waste of the precious time they have left. Some say they feel privileged to have been told how much time they have left.

You can find out more about this programme on the BBC programme page.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this programme please head over to the BBC's information and support page  for further advice and guidance.

Discover the range of qualifications and modules from the OU related to this programme:

Extended interviews

Nine people who took part in A Time to Live tell us their remarkable stories.


Anita, featured on the co-production 'A Time to Live', discusses her motor neurone diagnosis, and how she still lives life to the most.


Cindy received her diagnosis at 69. She shares her experience of treatment, and the comfort she's found in mindfulness.


Jolene's malignant melanoma was diagnosed when she was just 23. She talks here about how a positive mindset helps her avoid being "professionally ill".

Kevin M

Despite Kevin's incurable cancer diagnosis, he insists that it's important to be able to laugh at yourself. He talks here about the "last stone in his shoe", and the concept of project managing his own passing.

Kevin W

Kevin W's full-on lifestyle changed following his diagnosis, but he still finds running a favourite way to cope with his illness. Here he ponders his bucket list... and who'll deal with siders in the house when he's not around.


Lisa wants to focus on the quality of her life, not the length of it. She speaks warmly about her relationship, her children and a real penchant for Poldark.



Steve talks candidly about the trauma of finding out about his brain tumour, the struggle of still being "big daddy copper", and how grateful he is for the people he loves around him.


Nigel appreciates the simple things in his life - his family, dogs, and pottering about. He shares his thoughts on the kindness of others and the impact of his diagnosis on people around him.

Meet the expert

Dr Kerry JonesLecturer in End of Life Care, The Open UniversityVIEW FULL PROFILE
Dr Kerry JonesLecturer in End of Life Care, The Open University

Kerry's specific research specialism concerns death, dying, bereavement and end of life care over the life course. That is from perinatal death (stillbirth and neonatal death) through to frailty, older people and individuals who are experiencing dementia towards the end of their life. She presents the findings of research in papers for example, BMC Medical Ethics and more recently she presented a paper at the Paediatric Palliative Care Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina, (18-21 May, 2016) about communication at the end of life on the Neo Natal Intensive ward.

As well as collaborations with colleagues on projects concerning death and dying at the OU, her external collaborations follow from obtaining a successful grant award with three other universities (Bristol, Cardiff and Bath) to answer questions about ‘Dying with Reduced Agency’ (DWRA) and decision making at the end of life according to three conditions (dementia, brain injury and frailty).

Other collaborations involved working and research with local clinicians on the challenges and opportunities for discussing end of life care.

Having conducted sensitive research she has been passionate about translating vulnerable voices to the medical arena through her time teaching at a medical school on the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery course about care of the dying and communication.

In addition to her research and teaching endeavours, Kerry is a trained therapist and with a consultancy developed the death and dying series for a college in the southwest, an institution with a reputable and rigorous training in psychotherapy.

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For over 50 years The Open University and the BBC have worked together; co-producing hundreds of hours of programming and bringing learning to life for millions. Find out more about our unique partnership.

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