Old People's Home For Four-Year-Olds (C4)
In The Dark (BBC1)
Hamish wants to play, but he’s shy. The other children are all gathered round the painting table, drawing name tags, but Hamish is alone in the corner... until his new friend, Amaya, gets involved.
Amaya won’t take no for an answer. When games and presents don’t coax timid Hamish out of his shell, she drags a teacher across to add authority to her pleas. Soon, Hamish is rolling around on the floor, being a lion, and everyone’s got the giggles.
It’s a typical nursery scene, except that Hamish is 88 years old and a retired insurance executive.
Based in a Bristol retirement community, Old People’s Home For Four-Year-Olds takes ten oldies — several in their late 80s — and watches the effect of unleashing ten four-year-olds in the residents’ lounge
The clumsily named Old People’s Home For Four-Year-Olds (C4) deserves a much more pithy and apt title: Second Childhood. Based in a Bristol retirement community, it takes ten oldies — several in their late 80s — and watches the effect of unleashing ten four-year-olds in the residents’ lounge.
Gone are those quiet mornings of newspapers and idle conversation, to be replaced by finger-painting, silly songs and lots of squealing.
This is much more than a heart-warming observational documentary, though only a terminal misery-guts could watch the whole hour without giving in to a big soppy smile. A serious issue underpinned the storybook sessions and make-believe games.
We’re hardwired to form strong bonds across the generations. The pensioners naturally adored the little ’uns, even if they’d never had children of their own. But the four-year-olds fell in love with the oldsters too, in an instant.
Children who might be struck dumb by the appearance of younger adults will often trust an octogenarian. One of the most touching moments of the programme came on the