Old People’s Home For 4 Year Olds is a unique seven-week social experiment involving a group of energetic four year olds and several elderly residents in a retirement community. This beautiful ABC TV series, based on a similar British series, sets out to transform the lives of these residents, many of whom are chronically lonely, feeling isolated and screened at the start as being depressive.
This is a weekly hour of viewing that will literally tug at your heartstrings as you watch these children and seniors interact at the most innocent and genuine level. If you haven’t yet discovered this golden nugget of Australian television then please consider this a gift from us to you!
A recap of Episode 1
The scene is set as the children travel to meet their new elderly friends and are asked what their impression of old people are… “They use sticks to walk like they’re old”, “they live in old houses” and the most poignant observation of all, “they’re sad because no one plays with them”.
The children arrive at the home loudly singing the song B-I-N-G-O and wave timidly as they enter. One child hazards a guess that resident and ex-kindy teacher, Maureen, might be 100 years old? Lovely Maureen’s health issues over the past 10 years have sent her into residential care. She says she is a people person who now gets very lonely. The highlight of this episode is the friendship that develops between her and her new little ‘buddy’ Mikaela. They discover that both their names start with an ‘M’ and the friendship basis is set. Mikaela says about Maureen, “I really love her, because she’s beautiful and I’m beautiful”. So heartwarming!
The modern names of the children are a struggle for the oldies to get their heads around. Little Tyrone introduces himself to a slightly grumpy man named Eric, who at the start of the show says that he, “has nothing to look forward to”. Poor little Tyrone has a lisp and pronounces his name “Ty-wone”. Eric and John, a very well-spoken and well-dressed 78-year-old war veteran, both struggle to pronounce this new name and shrug to each other after several attempts to get it right. It’s very funny to watch.
Many of the residents start the experiment quite anxious that the children will not take to them. Eric in particular is quite negative about taking part but over the next few days the children win him over to the point that he begrudgingly states, “I don’t find it horrendous. I find it quite okay.” He even engages in some lighthearted pretend play by playing ‘tea party’.
John has never married or had children of his own and is one of the people who was worried the children wouldn’t take to him. He states as they go home one day that he is, “falling in love with these children”. His lovely soft nature and clear vulnerability literally bring a tear to the eye. You just want to give these old people a big hug!
Then we meet Bryan, 85, who has always loved gardening. With failing eye-sight he is becoming withdrawn as he can no longer do the things he wants to. He tells the interviewer that he is, “past his used by date” and admits to sitting alone most of the day and feeling depressed. Little Tyrone (AKA Tywone) notices that Bryan is sitting alone during an art activity and goes over to draw a veggie garden with him. One on one Bryan engages and seems able to see enough to know what is going on. He asks questions, helps Tyrone with his tools of the trade and with his painting. Such a beautiful sight.
Now up to Episode 5 please do yourself a favour and put aside an hour of viewing. You will learn and feel more in that hour than you have all week. Guaranteed!