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The Young Ones: Can re-living your youth make you young again?

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Tom McDonald Tom McDonald | 18:24 UK time, Tuesday, 14 September 2010

What if you really could turn back the clock? What if you could simply think yourself younger? Those two questions form the heart of The Young Ones, a new series for BBC One. It's a re-staging of a Harvard experiment which tested whether re-living your youth could make you young again.

Our experiment will see six well-loved British famous faces - Lionel Blair, Sylvia Syms, Liz Smith, Dickie Bird, Kenneth Kendall, and Derek Jameson - go back to 1975 for just one week to see if it can make them young again.

The celebrities: clockwise from top: Liz Smith, Lionel Blair, Dickie Bird, Sylvia Syms, Derek Jameson, Kenneth Kendell

When I first heard about the original experiment, and the BBC's plans to re-stage it, as the programme executive, I thought it all sounded completely mad and not necessarily in a good way.

I wasn't instantly convinced by the original experiment - it sounded too much like that 1980s film Cocoon to me - and I was concerned that if we re-staged it we'd simply find that the experiment didn't work, and would be embarrassing for everyone involved.

Two things changed my mind. Firstly, meeting with Professor Ellen Langer, who ran the original study. Her passionate belief that the way we age isn't inevitable and her certainty the experiment would work was hugely inspiring and enough to convince me that re-staging the experiment could change the way we all see ageing.

The second thing was reading that there are now more people in the UK over 80 than there are under 16 in Britain. Suddenly the idea of re-staging this experiment sounded much more than just fun, it somehow seemed completely urgent and absolutely necessary.

First, we had to decide which year we'd be sending our volunteers back to. We chose 1975 as we needed our volunteers to go back to their heyday and it was a year that many of the celebrities themselves brought up as personally important.

Nineteen seventy five was also an interesting year in the news, in culture and in sport. Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first female leader of the opposition and the Bay City Rollers were so big that crowds of hysterical girls could be found in every part of Britain (look out for a brilliant news piece on Rollermania in the first episode).

In sport Arthur Ashe became the first black man to get to the Wimbledon final and the first ever Cricket World Cup took place at Lords (and with Dickie Bird in the line up, this seemed particularly poignant).

Professor Ellen Langer, the creator of the experiement

A lot of our energies went into getting the look and feel of the house as historically accurate as possible. We also wanted the house to be as personal to our six volunteers as possible - we describe it in the show as "an Aladdin's cave of seventies-ness," which I think sums it up perfectly.

We needed plenty of space in the grounds to squeeze portacabins in so the massive production team on the series could be rigged up to computers, printers and the internet. We wanted it to be 1975 inside the house, but in order for the production to run smoothly it needed to be 2010 everywhere else.

Joanna Hilliard started to gently ask the celebrities to recall the things they most remembered about their homes in 1975: What did they have in their bedrooms? What colour were their walls? What photos would they have had up around their house? Were there any special mementoes which always took them back to that time?

We wanted the moment the volunteers saw their bedrooms for the first time to have a huge impact on them, so the researchers couldn't tell them why we were asking all these questions about decor and photos. We couched it all in terms of general research.

Joanna managed to strike it lucky in the case of all the volunteers - but most especially with Lionel Blair who had photographs of his actual 1975 bedroom. With that photograph, we managed to entirely replicate the wallpaper, carpet, furniture, even the bedding so it was a stunt double of Lionel's 1975 bedroom.

We were all so excited by the job that David did with Lionel's bedroom, which is why Lionel's reaction (you'll have seen it in the first episode) came as such a surprise to us - he hated his room!

Meanwhile, inspired by Habitat catalogues, design books and archive photos, art director David and his team transformed a suburban house into a living and breathing 1970s home.

Being inside it was breathtaking because the level of detail was so extraordinary. We'd always insisted that it couldn't feel like a set. Everything from the washing machine to the fridge to the curling tongs to the bedside lamps had to work - it was there to make the 1970s real.

Dickie Bird, sitting at a desk

There are too many moments on this series that were either hilarious, moving or simply completely bonkers to pinpoint one of them - but what will always stay with me is the sense about half way through filming that the experiment really was working.

The atmosphere in the house changed from being a slightly sad retreat for some very nice elderly celebrities into being a dynamic, living, breathing space where collectively everyone was living as their younger selves.

I'd always believed the key to the experiment would be the six volunteers enjoying one another's company and getting on together - and seeing the encouragement they all gave one another to either walk those extra steps or push themselves that little bit harder was inspirational.

I will never forget the moment that Derek Jameson managed to pull on his socks on his own (harder than it sounds) to the applause of Lionel Blair and Liz Smith - it's the spirit of that house that I'll never forget.

I will never be able to look at a shag-pile carpet or swirly wallpaper again without thinking of our 1975 house. I did try and nab a few pieces of the furniture at the end of the shoot (I do have a soft spot for 1970s dressers and dining tables), but I came home empty-handed.

Nearly all of the props in the house were hired from specialist companies to be sure the pieces really would have been in a 1975 house - we really didn't want to find out something we thought was 1970s turned out to be from the 1980s.

I hope when the series is on air that viewers will see that - other than the joy of some terrible clothes and gaudy furniture - there's nothing particularly special about 1975. What the experiment showed me is that we all have the potential to think differently about who we are and the way we live, regardless of our age.

And the reason I'll always feel hugely grateful to have taken part: hearing the volunteers as they left the experiment talking about how much hope it had given them for the future and how glad they were they'd taken part. You'll see these conversations in the final episode on Thursday.

Spending one week in 1975 hasn't changed my life on a day-to-day basis but if ever I think I can't do something or I have a problem that's insurmountable, I do try and remember the 88-year-old Liz Smith walking for the first time since her strokes 18 months ago without sticks. Inspiring, life-affirming, and a privilege to have been a part of.

Tom McDonald is the executive producer of The Young Ones.

The Young Ones starts at 9pm on Tuesday, 14 September on BBC One and BBC HD. For times of all episodes of the show, please visit the upcoming episodes page.


  • Comment number 1.

    I am sorry, but I found this programme quite distasteful. It was patronising, demeaning and bordering on downright cruel.
    These poor people can never be given back what they really crave, their youth.
    Watching them struggle both mentally and physically was extremely upsetting viewing. It was like watching the movie 'Cocoon' but without any aliens on hand to deliver the desired elixir of youth.
    Trying to brainwash a bunch of frail,faded celebrities into thinking it is 1975 under the very thin guise of 'social experiment' has in my opinion taken the Corporation to an all time low.

  • Comment number 2.

    These "poor people", these "frail, faded celebrities" also sounds "patronising, demeaning and bordering on downright cruel". We are talking here about human beings who are part of our lives because we know them through the medium of TV - perhaps these lovely people agreed to be part of this programme not only for entertainment but for enlightenment. I am perfectly sure that they have also been able to view the programme in advance and will have been given the opportunity of expressing their opinions prior to air.

    We shall all be "old" one day and what this programme demonstrates, and what the participants are sharing with us, is how the state of our minds has an enormous influence on the state of our bodies. Good for them - I have learned something wonderful as a result of watching them so far, and I admire them for their humour, courage and determination. They have brought so much to our lives in the past and continue to do so. Thank you.

  • Comment number 3.

    The author has also apparently returned to 1975, to talk about "filming" the events in the house....

    As to Pete's comment above about finding the programme "distasteful", I can only repeat a saying of my late maternal grandmother - that fools and children shouldn't see things half-done.

    I confess to feeling a little ill-at-ease at certain elements within the first programme, but surely the whole point of the experiment is to see if the changed environment also changes those within that environment.

    Programme 1 mainly served to set up the starting-point for each participant, Progamme 2 will presumably show transitional developments (more marked in some cases than others, I suspect) and the final programme will illustrate the end-point and draw conclusions about the impact of the experiment.

    The only query I would have with the methodology is whether the reversion to an earlier time-period is as influential as proposed; would a simple [self-catering] holiday have been just as effective, i.e. is the loss of the individuals' usual support systems more significant, with the requirement to do things for themselves?

  • Comment number 4.

    Great first episode - really interesting. Unfortunately it just isn't true that "...there are now more people in the UK over 80 than there are under 16 in Britain.", stated in the blog and on the show. In fact there are over four times as many children under 16 as there are people over 80. What the Guardian article - linked to from that part of the blog - says, is that there are now more people of pensionable age (over 60 for women and over 65 for men) than there are children under 16. Just. Which is a lot less surprising. The numbers are there in the Guardian article: 11.5 million children under 16, 2.7 million people over 80. And the Office for National Statistics reports the same numbers. This is the sort of spurious statistic that will be recycled and quoted again as fact, so hopefully a quick edit to the blog can set things right.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hello Phil (#4) - I'm the editor of the TV blog. Thanks for being so observant on the stat. I've taken out the link now to the Guardian article, as your're right, it doesn't quite illustrate the point being made. I'll ask where the quoted stat came from. Interesting! Thank you.

  • Comment number 6.

    Sorry to everyone who found this progame wrong, Being old I enjoyed the first episode.,yes it was sad but also funny this is our future getting old. Its nice to see celebraties all going the same as all us older people, After bring up 5 children and working most of my life I am now disabled and cant do everything I want the same as these lovely people but we keep trying I say good on you for showing the good and the bad of getting oldered. I look forward to the other episodes

  • Comment number 7.

    I think it was fascinating to see how age affects everyone, how challenge and being forced to try how much that does for someones self esteem. Fascinating now seeing how putting carers in has set them back a bit. Don't think it's sad at all........ it's an eye opener to how my life could change!

  • Comment number 8.

    I find the show very interestng. It is heart warming to watch their transformations and how their friendships are growing. And as for carers...if in my old age anyone calls me darling or sweetheart and says well done when I eat my dinner, I will surely knock them out with a brolly.

  • Comment number 9.

    Absolutely loved the programme! Would have liked to have watched it with my dad when he was still alive. He died last year after living in a nursing home for just a few months.

  • Comment number 10.

    Just watched the second episode and thought what a lovely programme this is. What comes across so strongly is how lovely these people are. Polite, funny caring and supportive. Totally different to all of the other reality programmes we see with younger people being so rude to each other. There is a lot to be learnt here and it is not just about the experiment. When can we have Lionel Blair back on TV hosting some dance programme?

  • Comment number 11.

    There is a revolution happening in Social Care, called Reablement, which works exactly in the same way as this programme, it is about improving people's self esteem and physical function to enable them to become more independent. It is being lead by Occupational Therapists across the Country and I am one. We are clinical professionals working with Children and Adults with both Physical and Mental disabilities and work for Local Councils and Health Authorities. Thank You BBC for highlighting this approach to growing older, it does improve quality of life we have masses of evidence. I would love to suggest that on the back of this programme (bearing in mind the high viewing figures and the obvious public interest in this topic) the BBC interview an OT and advise the public that we are out there to support them to become as independent as possible using their own personal goals and objectives and interests as a catalyst.

  • Comment number 12.

    This is a really inspiring show.You can see it is working and that by bringing in carers and doing more for people makes them do less.I saw this with both my parents who have both passed away now.I found the more we did for them the less they did themselves until they were totally dependant on us.So we should all be careful how much help we give people as we may be slowly taking there independance away from them.I am nearly 50 and i am going to do more for myself rather than letting my wife do it for me as i dont want to end up like my parents.

  • Comment number 13.

    Interesting programme which unfortunately totally misses the point that independence does not have to mean doing everything yourself. Instead it means having choice and control over who assists you to do what and when. How assistance is provided is the critical factor - it can render the person receiving it passive and disempowered or it can be just what's needed to live the full and active life you want to lead.

  • Comment number 14.

    In Edinburgh we have two 'discos' running for over 50s who dance to the music of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

    As a psychotherapist I explained the benefits of what I called reconnecting with our younger selves via dancing to the music of our youth. We also exchange health tips and are soon to expand 'club' activities to outings away from the discos in Morningside and Cramond.

    The differences in many people, including myself is marked after only 4 months. Delighted to see the original Horizon programme about the Harvard experiment and now this 'light hearted' version, which seems to back up what we are attempting.

    Dancing to this music is a simple but effective way of exercising, socialising and more importantly, reconnecting with our younger selves.

    Our "Dance Yourself Fit" sessions in the Eric Liddell Centre are growing in numbers every month and are set to expand throughout the city.

  • Comment number 15.

    Thank you BBC for this inspirational and entertaining programme. Thanks also to those celebraties who took part. It was a joy to see again familiar and much loved personalaties back on our tv screens confirming that they were still 'with us', and reminding us how much they have been missed. I shall be 70 years old myself shortly so I watch this series with interest and apprehension. I LOVED IT.

  • Comment number 16.

    Congratulations on a wonderful few days of good entertainment B.B.C. The Young Ones, a real treat to see these lovely people all together and trying so hard to achieve. I am 65 and this programme has certainly made me feel that I too am not yet too old to re-invent my youth. Its all in how you think and how you feel, this programme is showing everyone how to do it.
    Keep them coming, really enjoyable watching. Will be sad when it finishes.

    Ann Broomfield

  • Comment number 17.

    Great programme, so sad to see Mr Jameson so fragile, I loved his People programme in the 80's can I see it on i player again.

    What is the song at the beginning with the flute ?

  • Comment number 18.

    I am really enjoying the programme and, as a guy in his sixties already having trouble bending to tie shoe laces, I empathise especially with Derek!

    Just two small moans: is this approach - giving older people more choices and independence - not already well established and no great revelation? And those carers in Episode 2 ... surely they do not treat their "service users" [awful phrase] like that in real life. If so, they would be disciplined for insulting the integrity of their charges.

  • Comment number 19.

    Watched all episodes and like very much, sometimes you laughed sometimes you cried but in all I enjoyed very much how the celebrates improved which proves people need each other and involvement in something to keep us going.........

  • Comment number 20.

    What a great experiment. And never mind the celebrities being transported back to 1975, I went too, which now makes me 9 years old.

    I do miss Kenneth Kendall on the news. BBC please bring him back more often.

  • Comment number 21.

    I thoroughly enjoyed all three programmes. Delighted with the outcomes. I've been contacting friends to asked if they watched it - if not, to try to catch up on iPlayer. I'd like to think that as a result, I will "keep ahead of events" and do my best not to let it happen to me. I'm absolutely convinced it's all in the mind. Go, go, go!!!
    (what happened to the doggies? I was hoping Kenneth would adopt them for the perfect ending).

  • Comment number 22.

    I worked at the Queens Theatre in Blackpool in the 60's,
    as a stage hand and later as stage electrician ,
    I remember well Lionel and Joyce Blair and wish them both well ,
    remember Archie the manager,and the stage manager was Hilda Bakers side kick at one time , was it Cynthea,
    thanks Young Ones for bringing back some good memories

  • Comment number 23.

    Absolutely loved this program !!

    For the much loved celebrities who took part, the program acomplished everything it set out to achieve and I think those who posted highly critical views, (to prematurely perhaps) have completely missed the object of the exercise.

    All in all a most endearing insight in to how our minds and bodies work when we reach our senior years.

    By the way......where can I buy some of that blue patterned wallpaper in the house ?

  • Comment number 24.

    The Young Ones was a breath of fresh air. Thank you to celebrities and psychologists for bringing this to our screens. For those of us in or approaching the age group featured, often lonely, depressed and feeling useless in various stages of pain and inability it was great to know that not everyone has given up on us. And with positive input and interaction we can all be something better tomorrow than we see ourselves today. There is, after all, only one decision to be made between being Lionel's "couch potato" and a tap-dancing performer.

  • Comment number 25.

    I have just finished watching The Young Ones and wanted to say immediately how inspiring I thought the programme was, I have been completely addicted over the last 3 nights. The characters were wonderful, each very different but all extremely genuine and suffering their own agonies of growing old.

    Seeing the progress they made has just been amazing and gives us all hope. My own father suffered from vascular dementia and I was always certain that given a different environment his quality of life could be measurably different but I was always up against the established view that old age was inevitable and non reversible no matter what and should just be accepted.

    Now at 51 with both of my children having recently left home and the prospect of being faced with possible forced early retirement, I too was beginning to feel ‘older’ almost redundant with the thought of training for a career change seeming ridiculous ‘at my age’. This programme has rejuvenated me and I am actually now thinking of retraining maybe even in terms of a degree course in physiotherapy with particular onus on the elderly.

    At last BBC you have produced what you used to be prolific at, a totally inspiring programme!

  • Comment number 26.

    OMG! Or, Oh my, Great! lol. I dont know what gave me more pleasure. Seeing the wonderful people that have filled my lives with drama and humour or seeing their triumph over illness and adversity. But the joy, joy of seeing and hearing derek jameson, dickie bird and especially Sylvia I was yelling at the Tv. Sylvia, get your hair done! lol. What a wonderfully lovely warm and gorgeous woman. As much as I admired her stoic and pragmatic attitude, I did wish that she would fall in love with her reflection again. I dont think she ever did, perhaps feeling that she shouldnt enjoy indulgence. And that worth was only worth the work put in. Derek Jameson's voice and attitude filled me with the brightest attitude. Fill my radio and morning TV with Derek's voice and laconic attiude. Plz? I dont think Sylvia should be doing nursing homes but she should be in the middle of nannhy 911 or granny 999! lol. Please give these wonderful actors and journalists room to show off their natural talenrs.

  • Comment number 27.

    I so enjoyed this programme (I'm slightly surprised!) How wonderful 2 c each of those "CHARACTERS" regain some of their youth & spirit,lets hope it continues. 200 times better than big brother!!! BRILLIANT

  • Comment number 28.

    I think this was a brilliant programme. There is a valuable lesson to all of us here - whether young or old - it's down to your outlook on life and how you yourself decide to view the world that will make you the way you are, regardless of age...

    The 1975 house was amazing - I can remember stuff like that as a child and even though I am only in my forty somethings, the show made me feel younger! No drugs involved, no fancy technology - just interaction, a more simple way of life and a lot of happy memories.

    Well done to those who put this programme together, which, in my view was tactfully done and so human.

    So inspired by this, I'm trawling the Net for some of that flock wallpaper! :-)

  • Comment number 29.

    I am only 61 so I don`t know much yet. So how can I have learnt so much from watching 3 hours of the Young Ones? How is it that within the space of 3 hours I can shift my opinion from "this programme is a load of old tosh" to "what a mind blowing piece of TV". A firework just went off inside my head and I`m still blinded by the light. Amazing TV. I need to watch it again. It was so good that my wife and I actually discussed the programme after it had finished!

  • Comment number 30.

    I was already a strong believer in the power of feeling young. I live in a small town in Spain where I am astounded by the attitude and ability of the older members of our community.

    I feel that my town seems to attract people who feel young for their age and live their lives to the best of their ability. I think that there is something about where I live that attracts people with the right attitude about the way to get the most out of their lives, however old they are.

    When I first moved here I felt that somehow I had woken up in a place where the film Cocoon had come to life. This has given me a real feeling that a positive mental attitude can encourage vast improvements in the physical aspects of a persons life. It can also enable people to stay more active for a much longer part of their lives.

    It was great to see others achieve some of the improvements that now feel routine to me here in Almerimar.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm sorry there have been so many detractors because I really loved this programme
    I am only 68 and work part time but don't do much the rest of the time.I tend to sit around a lot with no real incentive to do anything. I know that I'm in danger of becoming old before my time. I am fit and healthy and love being with people especially socially but sometimes I just can't be bothered. However, having been inspired by the programme I have vowed to go back to Yoga and 'get a life'. I am alive when in company and am convinced that it was not the 'returning to 1975' that gave all the celebrities the impetus to move more and do more but the social aspect of it all. There is no doubt in my mind that being with others who are lively rekindles the liveliness in you. I recently went on holiday, on my own, the first in many years and met a fantastic group of people of all ages. I laughed a lot, danced a lot and had a fantastic time. If I could afford it I'd go on holidays like it every few months. We are naturally gregarious people and when we get older and live alone we sometimes forget this.
    Let's have more programmes like this but with ordinary folk so as to inspire the huge number of those of us who are getting older, are retired and have forgotten the joy of life.

  • Comment number 32.

    Thank you for an entertaining and inspiring programme. There seems to be a great opportunity here for people to carry out similar programmes in real life. So much provision for older people - both statutory and voluntary - seems unchallenging,apologetic and patronising - which is probably why the more able bodied active older person, as I am at the moment, tends to shy away from it. But surely it is exactly people like me [young-old with free time] who need to be active and involved. I'm 67 and have looked for opportunities to make a difference in a more exciting, adventurous way . . . but the main alternatives in my area seem to be working in a charity shop, playing bingo, being on a committee, or telling children how it was in the old days. All very worthy and boring.

    Surely older people need the same things that everybody needs: work, people, fun, adventure, learning and meaning. Surely someone somewhere must be doing some new and radical thinking - for the millions out here and not just for people on the telly. Do you or Professor Langer know of anybody working on more integrated programmes? I'd love to be involved.

  • Comment number 33.

    What a superb programme. One can only hope that all health 'professionals' watched it. My wife worked as an activities co-ordinator in a nursing home for some years. Unfortunately, all her work was negated as apart from a few hours a week activity the rest of the time the old folk were left sitting in chairs and having their meals served up for them. It was heart breaking when a relatively able new arrival came. After just a short time of sitting around waiting they degenerated to the same level as all the others. This programme shows the way forward to a much better autumn.

  • Comment number 34.

    This programme showed the possible way forward for nursing home care. However, we have a real need to identify opportunities for older fit people after retirement. I found that you have to actively seek out and create opportunities for voluntary work and. There are a whole host of things which many able bodied newly retired people can get involved in. The sad thing is that very few of these are identified and easy to take up. I have found that keeping the body and mind active are the key to being fit & healthy into old age. This in turn will reduce the burden of providing care for the aged in the future.

  • Comment number 35.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and found it very uplifting. I'm nowhere near the age of the characters in the house but watching the programme made me realise how prematurely old I was becoming. I have regained a spring in my step and a more positive outlook. Thank you. PS Dickie Bird was a joy!

  • Comment number 36.

    I thought it made excellent television. In response to the first comment from Pete C, I think a lot of reality television does patronise or ridicule its participants but this programme certainly didn't. These were all experienced performers who (despite the details of the house being kept a surprise until they arrived) must have had a good idea of what to expect.
    And I loved the attention to detail, with things like the shape of the milk bottles. But what was the pop-up VHS video machine - if that's what I saw - doing there? Surely those didn't go on sale until later in the 1970s...

  • Comment number 37.

    I found this program fantastic.

    As a 20 year old female. I found this great inspiration to get up and do things.

    Even at 20 I find myself questioning my own ability to do things, but this program showed that at any age you are able to do anything or re-learn things you have forgotten or left to one side and actually gave me the detirmination to pick up my guitar and start playing again.

    Something which i haven't done for around 3 years.

    All in all i think all people of an older age should adapt this mine set, bearing in mind that most of theses people had suffered from some sort of aliment that had preventing them from doing things that they once loved.

    They took to the challenge with great strengths and came out the other end on top!

    All in all great program with promising results!

  • Comment number 38.

    I loved this programme. It reminded me of the values of my late Grandfather, when he retired he sold his home in the city and bought himself 5 acres in the countryside in an ideallic spot. He was adamant that an active mind and body, and having goals were important for retirement. He lived off the land, and had long and short term goals on the property. He was physically and mentally active. Right up until his 77th year he was walking 7km every day, chopping firewood for his wood burning stove, planting or maintaining his garden and orchard, or working on his property, he socialised with neighbours, had pets, was a member of the local library and an avid reader of anything and everything topical. He was passionate about local and national politics and regularly contributed letters to the editor, often debating with people in the community about issues. This programme is a great reminder of him and how important socialising, being physically and mentally active is, at any age.

  • Comment number 39.

    I thought this programme/experiment was great, and it does prove the saying 'it you dont use it, you lose it'! Stimulation and good company proves to be a tonic for the elderly!

    On a different note...im trying to find out how i can get my hands on some of the wallpaper featured in the house(duckegg blue and silver) i have a passion for retro deco and furniture! I know some of it was specially commissioned but im hoping that some is available somewhere!

    Can anyone help?!

  • Comment number 40.

    This series is so refreshing and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated every minute of it ... I had almost given up on TV because of soap operas, repeats, crime investigation programs and all the boring programs that are there for our 'entertainment' now. Keep it up BBC ... this is what once made you stand out from the others. Retiring does not mean giving up ... it's just the beginning.

  • Comment number 41.

    I've been searching for the wallpaper too. I think the one juliesolo is after is Harlequin Virtue (part no. 60645 Contour). The one I like is orange and yellow with a big hexagonal geometric pattern. I can't find it anywhere.

  • Comment number 42.

    Watched and thoroughly enjoyed programme via I Player. I think that it was being in the company of similar people that brought the success of the experiment. It can be very depressing and lethargic being alone for long periods once your compatriates start falling off the twig.

    I heard from few friends that they didnt watch the original programmes as they thought it was an old series with a similar name about young punk men. Will it be repeated soon?

  • Comment number 43.

    Thank you for such an inspiring educational and yet entertaining programme. as a recently retired person who struggles with the lack of paid employment, not only for the pay but more especially for the rapport with customers and colleagues, it was so encouraging. thank you to the celebrities for allowing us to see them with their struglles and how they overcame.
    a great programme... their humour was infectious and I loved it all. thanks again

  • Comment number 44.

    I was unsure during the first programme but by the end of the series inspired by it. I am 70 and can't (or don't perhaps...) get around like I used to but will certainly be trying harder, doing more and keeping active in all possible ways.
    Lionel Blair with Tap Dogs was amazing - all the celebrities were wonderful.
    Many, many thanks to the production team for a brilliant series, show it in every 'home for the elderly' - please!!

  • Comment number 45.

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this programme and applaud the wonderful participants and the therapists who organised it. My 82 year old father has employed this logic throughout his life and is fit and healthy and enjoying life, despite losing my mother 16 years ago. The celebrities were all a delight and openly gave of themselves for this experiment. We thought the whole series showed a great deal of respect and dignity. Well done BBC! We need more programmes of this calibre. I think everyone loved seeing these celebrities so why should great entertainers such as Lionel Blair not be working if he wants to. We would love to see him back on TV.

  • Comment number 46.

    Congratulations BBC! A "pilot progamme" to rival a seies like The Ascent of Man, Cosmos and Planet Earth. I have just turned 60 and don't know if I'll make 70 let alone 80!

    As a scientist. I know you have carried out 1 experiment and made some sweeping conclusions, now is the time to change the variables and prove your points.

    I have baulked at paying at paying the licence fee for the past few years but The Young Ones has been worth it. Now go for it and make it a truly worthwhile series.


  • Comment number 47.

    I think that this programme should be compulsory viewing for all Adult Care social workers and OTs.

    I have been battling with Social Services for the last 4 years to get the support my mother needs in order to enable her to be as independent as possible for as long as possible, and improve her confidence in her abilities. However, Social Services seem to have the attitude that my mother is incapable of greater independence without actually properly assessing what she can do or what she might be able to do with the right support.

    My mother has been denied Reablement (as mentioned by StacyD #11) to help her find ways of preparing healthy meals for herself on the basis that her kitchen hasn't been adapted to make it disabled friendly. And Social Services won't sanction adapting the kitchen unless she can show that she would be able to use it effectively. Catch 22!

    To make matters worse my mother doesn't even get any support from Healthcare professionals she should. Her GP seems to think that she should be packed off to a care home forthwith. His justification for that view seems to be that it would be better to do it now that have to think about it in a few years time. So he won't refer her to Physio or Rheumatology or any of the other things that could help her improve her mobility and pain levels. I'm left tearing my hair out with frustration.

    How can a get hold of a DVD of this programme because I'd to send it to my mothers Adult Care team. Maybe it would illustrate more effectively what I've been trying to say to them for the last 4 years.

  • Comment number 48.

    I thought the programme was great. I'm not in that age group yet but serious ill-health means I SOMETIMES need help. My husband and I were both inspired to make changes in our lives but the best bit was the phrase "People can be 'helped to death'." That sank in and my husband is now getting better at letting me get on with things, and ask for help if I need it, rather than jumping in with an "I'll do that". I hope the programmes will be shown again, just to underpin the good they've already done. Thanks again.

  • Comment number 49.

    What a great programme and experiment with valuable life-affirming lessons. This is TV at its best when guests allow us to get close up and understand what works for them, and how to triumph over adversity. The programme provided real contexts for the opportunity to thrive; which so many don't get in their entire lives.
    How about a sequel to this with a series following some people who are confronted with an unplanned retirement, redundancy or loss and initially haven't a clue what to do, but by a process of tests and experiments are helped to find their 'opportunities' to thrive again. I anticipate being a likely volunteer.

  • Comment number 50.

    When is this programme coming out on DVD?

  • Comment number 51.

    What is the song at the beginning that sounds a bit like popcorn

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 52.

    what is the song at the beginning ?
    with a flute or something

  • Comment number 53.

    patronising ? demeaning ? what rubbish, the programme is inspirational, my only complaint is that it should have been shown on prime time, it uses reality TV for a purpose and a big thanks should go to the celebrities for taking part, everyone is concerned about getting old and the restrictions it can bring and the ability to complete simple tasks that were taken for granted.......well done BBC, THIS SHOULD BE COMPULSORY VIEWING

  • Comment number 54.

    It was shown on primetime months ago.

  • Comment number 55.

    Like Stella_C, I found Pete C`s comments objectionable. Perhaps before making such inane remarks, he should watch more of the series. I found it so uplifting just to see Liz paint again. Far from being brainwashed, or frail fading celebrities, they are all being encouraged in tasks they no longer feel confident in undertaking. Perhaps Pete would prefer to be left to his own devices and implode on his own when he reaches their age.

  • Comment number 56.

    For those trying to recognise the music in the opening part of the programme: I reckon it's Mouldy Old Dough by Lieutenant Pigeon. Only try and download the whole if you like jingly-jangly piano!

  • Comment number 57.

    what is the song at the start with a flute or some similar instrument

    Its not mouldy old dough

  • Comment number 58.

    Congratulations to all who took part. I agree, I too found the programme inspiring. Sorry to say carers do talk that way to clients. As for helping, sadly it's possibly due to lack of time when too few have too many calls in the community, or people in a care home. More progs. like this please where people can be free to be caring and respectful to each other and not scoring hits or backbiting as in so many other progs.

  • Comment number 59.

    intrigued, I think you will have to contact BBC Audience Services to find out, then.

  • Comment number 60.

    I saw the re-run of this programme this week and thought it excellent. Maybe I viewed it differently from some of the others who made comments because I fall into the age range of those involved in the experiment.
    From experience (husband died late 2009 after which I became 'an old woman') I know the results to be correct. Realising that I should sell my house and move to a smaller property I eventually chose to move to a retirement village. I now live alone and independently BUT amongst others of my age group and, sharing their company whenever I choose and participating in activities (again when I choose) I find I am 'youthening'. Saying 'I am too old to do that' is a big mistake, of course there will be things it is no longer possible to do effectively but you are never too old to give it a try and to feel a happy sense of achievement when you succeed.


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