Anger at railway suicide 'comedy' film

FILMMAKERS came under fire last night for basing a new comedy around railway suicide.Coming less than a year after the tragic deaths of Joanne and Natasha Coombs in Essex, and after a spate of deaths on the tracks in recent weeks, Brit-comedy Three and Out follows the story of a tube train driver looking for someone to kill themselves under his vehicle in order for him to receive a payout.

FILMMAKERS came under fire last night for basing a new comedy around railway suicide.

Coming less than a year after the tragic deaths of Joanne and Natasha Coombs in Essex, and after a spate of deaths on the tracks in recent weeks, Brit-comedy Three and Out follows the story of a tube train driver looking for someone to kill themselves under his vehicle in order for him to receive a payout.

The Reverend Peter Mann, the rector of the Parish of the Harwich Peninsula, said although he had not seen the film and was against censorship, he felt sensitivity needed to be shown towards peoples' feelings.

He said the tragic death of 17-year-old Natasha Coombs and the suicide of her mother Joanne on rail lines near Manningtree Station last summer had impacted upon many people in the area.

Rev Mann said: “It (the deaths of Natasha and Joanne Coombs) continues to affect them still in a very serious way, as you would expect, and anything that comes up to remind them of it is painful.

“I can't comment on the film, but I do think there are certain areas where we shouldn't tread on peoples' grief. The family are doing all sorts to come to terms with it.

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“It's just a human tragedy that is not worth laughing about.”

The train drivers' union ASLEF has hit out at the film, which stars Mackenzie Crook, who played Gareth in The Office, and members will hand out leaflets on Monday when the film is shown in London's Leicester Square.

The row also follows the deaths this week of three people on railway lines, including a couple in Essex.

Keith Norman, general secretary of ASLEF, said: “I can't find anything amusing about people so distressed that they are driven to suicide. These incidents can also mean life-changing traumas for drivers who have been involved.

“I don't want ASLEF to look like some sort of killjoy organisation, because we're not, but there are issues which we shouldn't ignore - and this is one of them.

“I want the public to be aware of how distressing it can be for a driver to discover a body under the wheels of his or her train.”

Last year 249 people were killed by trains. Of these, 194 were classified by the Rail Safety and Standards Board as suicides or suspected suicides.

A spokesman for Worldwide Bonus Entertainment, which has produced the film, said it was “disappointing” that ASLEF had reacted in such a way.

She said: “People who see the film will make up their own minds but we feel that by far the majority will see that the difficult issues portrayed in the film have been handled sensitively.”

She said the script was also sent to The Samaritans, who even feature in one scene of the film.

The spokesman added: “In the journey that the film takes, there are scenes that will provoke a range of emotions in people but we also feel that audiences will find the plot thought-provoking.”