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TV: The Young Ones \ BBC One

September 16, 2010

Six ageing celebrities all cooped up in a house kitted out in gaudy 70s decor spend a week being just a little bit more active than they normal are. Run a set of physical and cognitive tests before they go into the house and another set of tests shortly before they leave.

What did the tests at the end of the week prove? That they really did become more mobile and ended the project feeling younger than their actual years.

In the case of octogenarian actress and stroke victim Liz Smith, she successful managed to walk unaided for the first time in a year. Former cricket umpire Dickie Bird reclaimed much-missed confidence after suffering the effects of his strokes. Seemingly ever-youthful Lionel Blair rekindled his relative youth when he stepped onto the stage at the London Palladium, later doing a spot of tap-dancing with the London production of Tap Dogs.

To a certain extent, the results weren’t that surprising. My parents have long eschewed maintaining their active lifestyles; some of their contemporaries have long since embraced a more sedate alternative. For many years now, I’ve reassured myself with my parents obvious sparky grasp of everything around them. Sure, there’s some things they can’t do they used to, but the outward signs of their activity filled life are plain to see.

The Young Ones succeeded in providing a blueprint for the future elderly population as well as reassuring those with ageing parents that all should be OK (assuming you’re not blighted with some hideous incurable disease). All that’s seemingly required is a spot of mind over matter. Phew.

The Young Ones is available via the BBC iPlayer and also via the BBC’s Programmes website.


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  1. Peter Redstone permalink

    Fabulous stimulating programme, but I was left wondering to what extent the Hawthorne Effect might have also contributed to the visible changes in the 6 participants.

    The Hawthorne Effect: when people observed during a research study temporarily change their behavior or performance due to the extra attention they receive.

  2. Cherie-Ann Finney permalink

    My thoughts were that from day one, after entering the house, all the celebs seemed not only determined to get on with it, so to speak, but misery loves company. Before the programme all seemed quite lonely, yet this experiment gave them the determination to get on out and get on with it. I hope I still can socialise within my hobbies and interests when I get to a ripe old age.

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