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Last hours of George Best documentary life set to reignite bitter family feud

By Rebecca Black

The feud within George Best's family is set to be ripped open once again by a controversial documentary that delves into the final hours of his life.

Autopsy: The Last Hours Of George Best will feature forensic physician Dr Jason Payne-James examining the football legend's medical history.

The makers of the show claim it will shed new light on the causes of the former Manchester United star's death.

But the footballer's brother-in-law has already slammed the TV programme, claiming it is in bad taste.

The show sees Dr Payne-James trace Best's attempts to beat his addictive illness, charting the impact that a lifetime of drinking had on his body.

The footballer's son Calum, his widow Alex and his former agent Phil Hughes contributed to the Channel 5 programme, which will air just before the 10th anniversary of his death on November 25.

However, Norman McNarry, speaking for his wife Barbara, Best's sister, described the programme as being in poor taste and slammed it as the "ultimate indignity".

Norman and Barbara said that they had been informed about the show but had not been invited to participate.

"As we spent much more time at George's bedside than others, I would have thought we would have been asked to take part," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"But I think we would have said: 'No, we are not interested in any programme that does not show George in a good light'. This seems more sensationalist and in bad taste.

"I don't think that this programme sounds like something that is appropriate. I am slightly flabbergasted - it seems in very bad taste."

However, Alex said she had watched programmes in the series and had felt they were sensitively done.

"I have seen quite a few that have been done, and I think they are in very good taste," she said.

"It sounds a bit horrible. However, as I said, I have seen a few of them and I thought that they were very good."

The Autopsy series has proven controversial in the past. Earlier this year Channel 5's Robin Williams episode was labelled "distasteful", and fans of the comedian on both sides of the Atlantic questioned if some controversial scenes were necessary.

Another episode concentrating on the death of singer Amy Winehouse was slammed by the star's father.

The show's format typically includes talking heads and medical industry experts who examine public documents and attempt to explain the nature of the celebrity's death.

As the discussions develop, an actor plays the role of the star and acts out various scenes.

Other previous Autopsy specials have investigated the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Anna Nicole Smith.

Best died aged 59 on November 25, 2005, and remains best-known as one of the world's first footballing superstars. Born in east Belfast, he began his career with Manchester United after being spotted by a talent scout at the age of 15.

After making his debut for the side aged just 17, he scored 179 goals in 470 appearances over 11 years, and was the club's top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons.

He also inspired scores of footballers across the globe.

Brazilian legend Pele said the Ulsterman was the greatest player he'd seen.

On what would have been the sportsman's 60th birthday, Belfast City Airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport in his honour.

He was remembered by mourners at his public funeral held in Belfast as "the beautiful boy (with a) beautiful game".

This month marks the 10th anniversary of his death.

Mr McNarry said his family were planning to mark the painful day with a close circle of Best's oldest friends.

Ms Best said every anniversary of the death was "horrible" and "difficult for all the family" but that this tenth one would be especially so. "It has gone so quickly, it just seems like yesterday," she added. "I think that is also one of the factors that makes it so hard for people."

Autopsy: The Last Hours Of George Best will be shown on Monday November 16 at 9pm.

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