Old people are brilliant. Anyone who thinks otherwise can be dismissed as a complete idiot. They’ve got better manners, better tales and have suffered hardships that would make us cry ourselves into a pathetic pool of gibbering mess. It’s disgraceful that our elderly folk, once they’ve passed a certain usefulness, are left on the scrapheap lonely in residential homes and mistreated in sheltered accommodation. Why do we do it?
To highlight this problem, Tim Samuels went on a whistle-stop tour of old dears and troopers to talk to them about their lives and problems. Talking to these old diamonds seems to be something of a rarity, which in itself is one of the biggest crimes of modern society. Of course, the show was tinged with regret and sadness, but an unlikely twist occurred, which saw Britain’s geriatrics rampaging through Abbey Road studios and stealing MPs watches… welcome to the mischievous world of The Great Granny Chart Invasion: Power to the People (BBC2, Monday, 9pm)
Featured in this wonderful wonderful wonderful documentary were some of the best (and most deserving) faces I’ve seen on my box in years. Once lady, Joan, is as lonely as can be. Joan hadn’t left her flat for three years apart from trips to the hospital. Imagine that… never stepping outside the front door for pleasure. Joan, a tough and warm old lady broke my heart by flatly stating “going to the ambulance is a nice walk”. A nice walk – roughly ten steps into the fresh air. Of course, it wasn’t all bad.
We met the inspiring Winifred. Winnie is bored in her care home. She’s getting pretty pissed off that the nation’s pensioners are becoming marginalised. So, setting off with Samuels, she poses as his sound man, and they promptly pester all and sundry around parliament. In a touching and playful way, Winnie stole MPs wrist watches and quipped “I’ve stolen your watch because I’d rather go to prison than live in an old people’s home”. Now, this gesture, hilarious as it is, underlined a very serious and appalling point. Britain’s banged up burglars have more in the way of care than our old folks. In fact, one shocking fact is that prisoners are looked after by laws governing their basic human rights. Our grandparents are not.
Some of the scenes in the documentary were horrific and distressing to watch. Hidden cameras showed old people falling in their homes and simply being whisked up from their feet and plonked into a chair with a patronizing pat on the head and the offer of tea. No medical attention. No love. No care. Nothing. Thankfully, among all this terrible footage, some of the tears shed were tears of unadulterated joy.
Samuels, obviously a fan of the Young@Heart film (without doubt the finest documentary this writer has ever seen) decided to form a band with these old firecrackers. Some phone-calls later, and a gang of chuckling day-tripping in London later, and The Zimmers were formed. With a combined age of almost 3,000, The Zimmers storm Abbey Road (yes, the place where The Beatles knocked out a couple of hits) to record The Who’s My Generation (which you can see by clicking here).
Even though an attempt at the charts may be a stretch too far, this segment of the show provided us all with a beautiful look at a group of people enjoying themselves to the point of tears. One old chap, Alf Carretta (the lead singer) choked with undiluted happiness at what had happened. It’s worth noting too, that Alf had the most wonderful speaking voice I’ve ever laid ears on. A rich lilting clear voice which I’m afraid we’ll ne’er hear from our youth when they reach their vintage years.
Summing up then, this documentary, although it may not have answered many questions, showed us something very rare indeed. Something positive. Our elderly have been thrown away and forgotten about and it takes the tiniest gesture to make their lives better. They don’t want simpering pity; They want to get out of the house and have a decent chat. When the smiles broke out across their faces, it was impossible not to join in. This was a brilliantly made show that tugged the heart-strings in the all the right ways. Moving, funny, uplifting and most of all, fun. Visit the official website of The Zimmers by clicking here. [Mof Gimmers]Join TVScoop on Facebook for exclusive competitions and gossip