BBC1, 24 February, 8pm


    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.

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