Patronising television programs

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Amazing Greys – yes, pun intended – pitches the strength and exuberance of youth against a more experienced group of over 60s, but just who is the brunt of the joke?

UK television may just have sunk to its lowest level. Although we’ve endured the copious reality shows which began life in Blighty, let’s hope we’re spared the ‘gem’ which is Amazing Greys.

Aimed at showing the viewing audience that ‘age is just a number’, a group of seniors which includes a 74-year-old restaurateur, a 76-year-old Mastermind winner (who won in 1974) and a septuagenarian weight-lifter all pitch their talents against, younger and fitter contestants. The ‘Greys’ as the television producers insist on calling them, all have considerable more years experience in their chosen fields that the young contestants, so it’s hardly surprising that they often come out on top.

Older people aren’t a special effect to be marvelled at when they do something ‘surprising’, such as the former darts champion beating a 30-year-old at darts. And neither is it particularly shocking to learn that 76-year-old Mastermind winner Elizabeth is better at quizzes than her much younger opponent.

The older generation is lead by 69-year-old Angela Rippon, who became UK television’s first permanent female reporter four decades ago, and who claims, “The over 60s can achieve anything, They aren’t ‘average’ greys, they’re ‘amazing.”

Those over 60, with many years experience in their chosen field are indeed talented, but ‘amazing’ simply because they can still function after 60 is patronising beyond belief. Achievements should be celebrated because they are made possible against the odds, regardless of the age of the achiever. Whereas Amazing Greys seems to only trot out the older generation so we can marvel at how they still seem to be in full possession of all their faculties. And that Ms Rippon, who is indeed talented, chooses to be a presenter of such a patronising program, gives us very little hope indeed.


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Written by Debbie McTaggart


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