“A series about four-year olds and adults – what could possibly be a more beautiful premise to create an observational documentary about?” asks executive producer Debbie Cuell.
ABC series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, based on a UK format, begins on Tuesday night and is at risk of melting any hearts that see it.
The series features 11 older retirement home residents brought together with 10 pre-schoolers, to see if planned activities together can encourage physical activity, social interaction, learning and happiness.
“In my career, I have almost always managed to produce shows that I like and believe in, and as such have produced some beautiful series, that reach out and touch an audience. Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds is no exception,” says Cuell.
“What a privilege to bring two vulnerable but delightful age groups together in the hope of capturing something that could change the way we look after our ageing population.
“It was a quite a challenge to film for such a long time (seven weeks) with two groups generations apart – each vulnerable in their own ways. Selecting the right team to work with me on this series was critical, as our duty of care to the groups was paramount. We needed patience, understanding and respect for each and every one of the participants. We also learnt pretty quickly that the most important thing when planning off-site excursions was proximity to toilets!
“With the Royal Commission into aged care it’s timely that we shine the light on how we look after our elderly here in Australia. In many countries the elders are revered for the knowledge and wisdom they have to offer, but less so here in Australia.
“Old people can teach the young things that can’t be taught from reading a book, or going to school, these are things that only life experience can bring.
“It has been a joy to make this series. I was so impressed by the four-year olds – their energy and enthusiasm and willingness to accept the group of retirement home residents into their pre-school class was delightful, and the effect they had on the older people heart- warming.
“I am also so proud of our 11 retirement home residents, the oldest who is 95, for the way they turned up day after day, and gave the experiment a chance. To make a show that I am creatively extremely proud of is one thing, but to believe that it could make a real difference to the lives of our elderly is quite something else.”
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds narrated by Annabel Crabb 8:30pm Tuesday on ABC.