Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Peter Mitchell is a professional exhumer. He digs up dead bodies for money. I'd love to know what an amateur exhumer does it for.

No, maybe I wouldn’t.

Like last week's film Commando Chaplains, this fourth entry into Channel 4's Revelations series is compelling viewing, if for no reason other than because the stakes are so high. With every dead body that has to be relocated (and Mitchell has overseen the relocation of an incredible 30,000 of them), there is a gallingly similar upheaval in someone's life. As you see the mud and earth getting irreversibly rearranged, you can't help but perceive that someone's emotions will never be the same again either.

Inevitably there are two sides to this coin, and in this film it's a relative versus an organisation. One guy wants to move his parents' graves together, and has to convince the Church of England. An Egyptian woman finds herself up against an excavation project to uncover a 5,000-year-old Sphinx Road, which sees bodies buried as recently as just two months ago getting relocated.

Project Manager Tony McHale has the most telling insight on everyday life as an exhumer though:

"With this sort of job that we do, you've got to have a good sense of humour, and you must learn to switch off... I worked for a funeral director's first, and we did the first child, and people said well how do you feel about that? I felt nothing for the child, I felt for the relatives – the mum, the dad, brothers and sisters, people that was in that church, because my belief is once you're dead, you're dead. It's the people that are left that suffer."

This was another absorbing, respectful documentary, and a good advertisement for cremation.

Review of Revelations: How To Find God here.
Review of Revelations: Muslim School here.
Review of Revelations: Commando Chaplains here.
Review of Revelations: Muslim and Looking for Love here.
Review of Revelations: Divorce Jewish Style here.
Review of Revelations: Talking to the Dead here.
Review of Revelations: How Do You Know God Exists? here.


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