When I was young one of the most successful best theatrical venues was the Whitehall Theatre in London, where Brian Rix was the star of a succession of farces over decades.

Having acted in a few myself, I know just how difficult it is to earn the kind of laughs that he could command at will it seemed.

He retired in the late 70s having also appeared in over 90 made-for-television farces. A couple of years later he became secretary general of MENCAP.

His first child had Downs Syndrome at a time when little help was available for any kind of mental disability and he was a lifelong campaigner for the mentally disadvantaged.

His life peerage in 1992 enabled him to dedicate himself to innumerable causes and charities.

During that time he voted in the upper chamber against the decriminalisation of euthanasia or assisted suicide.

It is therefore telling that now that he is on his deathbed, he has taken time out from his own pain and misery to write to Baroness D’Souza, the Lords’ Speaker, (who also has a history of working in Human Rights), asking her to allow the question of assisted dying to be considered again.

His words are compelling as one might expect and even whilst he would like to depart himself, he wants to make some sense out of his prolonged pain and discomfort by helping others in the future to avoid it.

He writes: “My position has changed… I have been dying now for two months. I have wrapped up my affairs … they won’t let me die and that’s all I want to do. I am constantly woozy and hazy but I can’t sleep.

The doctors and nurses do their best for me, but their best is not good enough because what I want is to die, and the law stops them from helping me with that. I think it’s wrong that people like me are stranded like this.”

Those who are members of religions that proscribe assisted dying are entitled to live their lives and die their deaths accordingly, but I believe it is beyond cruel to impose those values on the many millions of us who feel entitled to slide peacefully into oblivion when that is our considered choice and when remaining brings unendurable and protracted suffering.

As the play title had it – Whose Life Is It Anyway?