Grey Expectations Coming to BBC Four

Grey Expectations, a contemporary, unique and engaging season of programmes exploring old age, is set to air on BBC Four in July 2009 with comedienne Jo Brand and national treasure Liz Smith (The Royle Family) taking centre stage.

Commissioned by Richard Klein, Grey Expectations gets to grips with the challenges presented by the ageing process with an innovative comedy drama about life for nurses in the NHS, observational documentaries about grandparents, a behind-the-scenes look at an old people’s home with a difference, and a fascinating documentary about how one actress is trying to make the most of her “grey” years.

Central to the Season is the comedy drama Getting On (3 x 30-minutes) starring  Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine which follows the daily lives of nurses and doctors “getting on” with life in an overlooked corner of the health service.

Darkly funny, tough and compassionate, Getting On is written and performed by all three cast members and directed by Peter Capaldi. 

In a range of thought-provoking documentaries Grey Expectations will challenge stereotypes and explore what it really means to be “of a certain age”.

The Grandparent Diaries (3 x 60-minutes) looks at the relationships between three very different sets of grandparents and their grandchildren. 

Storyville: Time Of Their Lives (60-minutes) profiles three residents of a home for the elderly who are still passionately engaged in their individual brands of activism – from journalism to anti-war demonstrations – while quietly negotiating the final years of their lives.

Meanwhile in Liz Smith’s Summer Cruise (60-minutes) 87-year-old actress and comedian Liz Smith lets cameras follow her very personal quest – to go on a proper holiday. 

Finally in How To Be Old (60-minutes) Nigel Planer’s alter-ego Nicholas Craig, master of invention, theatrical historian and “absolutely bloody passionate” actor, examines the intricacies, pitfalls and sheer gruelling hard work which goes into the art of being old. 

Announcing the season, BBC Four Controller Richard Klein says: “Grey Expectations offers rare personal glimpses into experiences of older people. The experiences of people in the eclectic films reflect lives every bit as diverse, rich and varied as their younger counterparts – if not more so.

“It’s also a pleasure to welcome the return of Peter Capaldi’s direction to our screens in the Brand, Scanlan and Pepperdine’s collaboration Getting On.

“Grey Expectations promises treats for everyone of all ages, just don’t expect any cliches.”

The season will also provide another chance to see George Melly’s Last Stand, Mark Lawson Talks To Liz Smith, John Mortimer: A  Life In Words, Krapp’s Last Tape and the 10-part series on the lives of the Chelsea pensioners, Once A Soldier.

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