Amanda Barrie on a scooter in the new show The Baby Boomers’ Guide To Growing Old
Former politician Edwina Currie giggles as she thinks of how she frequently enjoys embarrassing her children.
Actress Amanda Barrie likes to wear skinny jeans and heels, and TV presenter Esther Rantzen does star jumps while watching television.
They were the generation that hoped they’d die before they got old. They made Britain cool and denigrated their elders as fuddy-duddies. But now the Baby Boomers are getting older, they want to reinvent that too.
A new four-part series, The Baby Boomers’ Guide To Growing Old, takes an irreverent look at what they’re up to, from using dating sites to joining punk bands, having plastic surgery and zooming about on mobility scooters.
‘We’re not going quietly,’ says former Tory minister Edwina, 70. ‘People are living for longer and most of us are still young at heart. We’ve worked hard and now we want to have fun. I’m growing old disgracefully. My kids don’t like a lot of the things I tweet about, especially Brexit – they tell me I’m embarrassing.’
During the show Edwina joins punk band UK Subs led by 72-year-old frontman Charlie Harper. ‘It was brilliant fun,’ laughs Edwina.
‘I can’t sing, but it didn’t matter. We sang a song called Senile Dementia which we wrote together. I shouted out, “I don’t wanna die!” Even at this age you can try new experiences.’
The show follows the Baby Boomers, who also include former MP John Prescott, journalist Eve Pollard and Boris Johnson’s father Stanley, as they investigate what old age means for different people. Amanda Barrie, 81, tries running a B&B, something many pensioners do for extra income, but found it wasn’t for her. ‘It’s too much hard work,’ she groans.
She preferred to flirt outrageously with cricket commentator Henry Blofeld on a trip to a cosmetic surgeon. After being offered various procedures Amanda says, ‘I’d be better just cutting my head off.’
Edwina Currie on stage with Charlie Harper, frontman of the punk band UK Subs
The pair also delved into the world of internet dating. ‘I’m open-minded,’ says Amanda, who married her wife Hilary Bonner in 2014 after coming out as bisexual. ‘But you could have a different date every night.’
Former Strictly Come Dancing competitors Esther Rantzen, 76, and Johnny Ball, 79, tried a different way to meet people.
‘We tried Ceroc dancing, a form of modern jive, and it was great fun,’ says Johnny, who’s famous for his shows about maths.
‘Some people had found love through it. People are realising there’s no need to slow down. When I’m not travelling around giving lectures about maths, I’m writing books.’
Esther, who has been single since her producer husband Desmond Wilcox died in 2000, wasn’t keen to dance on TV again after believing she made a fool of herself on Strictly in 2004.
‘Exercise can have a positive effect but I prefer not to do it in public. I’ll often jog on the spot or do star jumps during ad breaks while watching TV,’ she says. ‘So I got grumpy about the Ceroc, especially when it became clear they hoped I was looking for a date. That’s not something that interests me. I still think about Desi every day.’
The show celebrates the new way of getting older, but also acknowledges the downsides. For instance, sports presenter Jim Rosenthal visits a centre where the elderly can buy mobility scooters and stairlifts.
‘There’s a lot of loss that you have to get over,’ says Esther. ‘You lose friends and partners. You can lose your health and your job. You need courage to achieve the quality of life you took for granted for so long.’
The Baby Boomers’ Guide To Growing Old, Tuesday, 10pm, More4.