Monday, August 03, 2009

How about BBC catering for elders too?

Miss C McLoughlin CBE
Age Concern
TQ13 7ZZ

Would it not be useful to older people if they had a regular weekly magazine programme, say on Radio 4 – devoted to issues affecting elders, containing a living history slot, where they can reminisce about life in past decades.

I am a GP, and my home visits have made me aware of how important broadcast media are to elders, as a form of company. As a GP, I often touch on people's individual personal history, and they are more than eager to talk, but at greater length than I can afford.
The effect of a dedicated programme for older people would be to increase self esteem among the elders generally. "We cannot be that useless, if they give us an hour of radio a week". After all, in cultures where older people are valued - as in Brittany - they are valued and listened to for their experience. A dedicated, regular radio programme would be the modern equivalent of that social respect.

For people who actually get on the programme, there is the kudos of being famous for a few days, which would be a tremendous emotional boost for them.

The living history part of the programme would elicit responses like "Yes, I remember that and what's more, we used to ...", so it would become self sustaining. The resulting material would create an important living history archive.

Who knows? Some young people might listen in, to discover that we did not always have traffic jams and central heating.

Over the years, I have put this proposal to local (Bristol) BBC on more than one occasion. They respond with a list of programmes that touch on age related matters, but they probably a worry that such a programme might offend younger people, who they need to attract for marketing reasons. I tried to put it to Joan Bakewell, but was unable to find a mailing address for her, and an email was returned by her office with a note to say that it was unread.

The idea will have to be fought for, but clearly it should be a part of the BBCs brief to "educate, inform and entertain" all parts of society.

I hope you find this of interest.


Dr Richard Lawson


Hannah said...

I think thats a brilliant idea. And i think younger people would want to know about it too.

DocRichard said...

Hanah, could you send a copy of the letter to Age Concern? It would make it twice as likely that they would take it up. I tried to send a similar letter to Joan Bakewell, the government's "Voice of the older people". She was very hard to find; eventually found an email address, but they just wrote back and said Joan will not read your email. Ho hum.

weggis said...

Look Doc, "older" people, you and I, do participate. Why should we have our own channel? It just segregates us from the mainstream. We should be valued for what we are, not how old we are.

DocRichard said...


I'm not asking for a whole channel, just a programme or two. Like Watch With Mother, only this is Watch with My Residential Care Assistant.

The whole point is that old people are not valued in our society, at least compared with other cultures e.g. Breton. Elders tend to be viewed as a non-productive nuisance with dodgy sphincters and little buying power. But we are rich in long term memory, and it is this that we can offer. You don't have to write to Age Concern if you don't want to, but you will remember this exchange when you are sitting in your wheelchair listening to some Bob Dylan on your special 11am Monday programme. Or then again, maybe you won't.

weggis said...

Talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation!

DocRichard said...

Exactly. The weakness of the whole Yoof Kulchur thang is that Yoof have 2 options:
a) grow old, or,
b) die.