BBC1, 24 February, 8pm
STAR RATING 3/5
Have no doubt: issues that are important to older people have
become crucial politically, writes Graham Hopkins. And with 10 per
cent of older people suffering some sort of abuse, the Department
of Health has prioritised money for increasing public awareness and
reporting of such abuse, and has given the charity Action on Elder
Abuse £600,000 over three years.
Depressingly, there is no similar priority for other vulnerable
adults (one national organisation working with people with learning
difficulties who are abused received just £20,000 this year),
but older people can now add a red nose to the grindstone.
The BBC’s Dad, with some of the small screen’s shiniest stars,
launched Comic Relief’s elder abuse awareness campaign. Although it
bravely tackled the taboo subject of elder abuse – both in a care
home and at home – it was a half-cocked tackle.
When Larry (Richard Briers in the title role and in fine form)
falls down the stairs and breaks his ankle he is unable to care for
his wife Jeannie (83-year-old Jean Heywood, poignancy personified)
who has Alzheimer’s; and so she is placed in Summer House, a
nursing home apparently “approved by the council” and run by a
stereotyped, profit-driven Asian businessman.
In Summer House reality is jettisoned and we are served up the
fusty old TV cliches of dreadful food, poor care and uncaring
staff. And at some expense: £600 if Jeannie wants a single
room; and son Oliver (Kevin Whatley) and his wife Sandy (Sinead
Cusack) have to stump up £100 a week in “extras” – such as
£17 for a haircut.
In a film that does succeed in showing the frustrations of growing
old, it frustratingly shoots itself in the slippers by falling back
on bad cliches.
It’s enough to put your red nose out of joint.