As Time Goes By

Retirement Is a Laughing Matter (on British Telly)

Whether you call them senior citizens, retirees or OAPs (old age pensioners), people of advanced age certainly have a sizable presence in British entertainment. Popular series such as Last Tango in Halifax, Vicious, The Old Guys and Boomers feature seniors as main characters, not just someone’s colorful grandfather or an eccentric old auntie to provide a laugh or wise word when called upon.

Think back to 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel wherein a group of British retirees make the trek to India to live out their golden years. Their reasons may have varied –the warmer climate, cheaper cost of living, an opportunity to reconnect with the past and as a means for getting a needed operation much sooner – but they all found a sense of community. The success of this film is a prime example of the bankability of stories focused on elderly characters and their concerns.

This showcase of British acting legends was so popular that a follow-up, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, was just released. With a cast of respected and award winning veterans who range in age from 62 (Celia Imrie) to 80 (Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench), this highly anticipated sequel demonstrates that there is a significant audience for stories that don’t involve perfectly pert bodies, martial arts fighting sequences or pyrotechnics.

That’s not to say that aging is a cozy, gentle process. Ask anyone who’s approaching AARP membership eligibility (that includes me) and they’ll tell you there’s nothing easy about getting old or about adjusting to retirement. Fortunately, British telly strives to makes us laugh at an issue we all have to face sooner or later.