If ever a social experiment was ripe for TV cameras, it must be Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which premieres tonight on ABC.
Based on a UK format, this 5 part series is a total heart-melter, with candid vision that works towards a productive outcome: improving the health of senior citizens.
The premise is simple enough: can a bunch of lively kids reinvigorate tired (and sometimes grumpy) residents of a nursing home? Over a 7 week period these two generations will work together on group activities and sometimes bond in spite of themselves.
There are experts on hand, Professor Sue Kurrle, Dr Stephanie Ward, Dr Evan Kidd, physiotherapist Nicola Kertanegara, teacher Fionas, and a few idle carers in the wings. Annabelle Crabb narrates for ABC, in the series produced by Endemol Shine Australia.
The Anzac Village residents range in age from 78 – 95. Although they have all volunteered to participate, some are a tad cynical about the whole thing. The series takes a serious approach in its set-up, testing each for strength, balance, memory and gauging a level of depression. The latter is quite stark, with 85 year old Eric revealing, “We’re not here to be cared for. We’re here to die.” Sadly, one resident, Grace, has already passed on before the series debuts.
But they all have cracking characters, such as 78 year old John, whose British upbringing sounds like something out of Seven Up, or 90 year old Shirley who is as close as the series gets to Catherine Tate’s “Nan” … only joking she’s not that averse to the idea.
When 10 little 4 year olds come bounding into the room, it’s priceless television. The introductions alone are worth tuning in for, especially when octogenarians come face to face with 2019 names: Reef, Jax and Tyrone. Little Tyrone is a scene stealer when he and John fumble over his pronunciation, but wait for the moment when he sees one senior feeling left out. Get this kid a Logie nomination as Best Newcomer, now.
While viewers are spellbound by the interactions, experts keep us grounded with the changes in health, all powered by pint-sized motivators. The two generations will go on walks, paint, have a tea party and more…. the whole thing is endearing, even to a seasoned TV critic.
Like Kids Say The Darndest Things and The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, out of the mouth of babes comes spontaneous, frank and funny dialogue. The brilliance of this format is pairing it with those who have seen it all and feek like they had nothing more to contribute.
Tyrone, Reef and Jax are about to prove them very wrong.
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds airs 8:30pm tonight on ABC.