Autopsy is a television series from Britain’s ITV studios that analyses the events around the untimely deaths of famous people. Dr. Jason Payne-James looks at the cause of death that is on the celebrity’s death certificate but looking closely at the evidence he concurs with the certificate or comes to another conclusion.
The subjects of the series are people well-known in film, music, and sports. The days leading up to the deaths of actors Robin Williams and Heath Ledger, and others, are analyzed.
In the episode I am looking at today, the life and death of the Irish-born, Manchester United footballer George Best is scrutinized.
The tricky winger is regarded as the one of the greatest UK footballers [soccer] if not the best ever. But his downfall was that he had a disease—he was an alcoholic. Death by alcoholism is not mentioned on the death certificate, but Dr. Payne-James postulates that Best may have died from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Payne-James investigates.
His findings interspersed with a psychologist’s assessment and dramatic recreation of Best, his family, wives, partying, and old stock footage of Best on the field playing soccer and when he is in the public eye.
The path of Best’s alcoholism is scary. This progressive disease over thirty years certainly had an impact on Best’s health. It’s a wake-up call for anyone jolted into looking after themselves after watching this program.
The reason for Best’s drinking habit is given at the start. He was a shy young man and became a social drinker. This led him going to the bottle when challenges in life came his way. One such challenge was the death of his mother. She couldn’t take the public criticism of his son when he gave up football. She took to the bottle and eventually died of alcoholism.
A lesson of this episode is to look after yourself. Keep off self-destructive tendencies no matter what it takes. Do something about it. This program can scare one into submission to doing the right thing.
By Peter Veugelaers