Can it be entirely coincidental that on the very same evening that the BBC bade farewell to its high-rating series about older people (New Tricks, in case you hadn't realised), it launched a new show about older people, Close To The Edge, a 7-part Reality TV show based around a group of older men and women living in Bournemouth?
As co-founder of SoSensational, a website for older women, I think it is not pure coincidence.
The genre of Close To The Edge, or Made In Hampshire as I prefer to call it, is "scripted" or "constructed" reality and it follows the lives of 16 men and women (mostly widowed or divorced) in the Dorset (but still described as Hampshire by long-term residents) town of Bournemouth. Scripted/Constructed Reality is where the programme makers don't trust real adults to say what they want them to say as the way to generate story-lines that people will shmooze about around the water-cooler at the office the day after transmission.
This is a new departure for the BBC. It has seen ITV's success in filming the vapid lives of rich, young, overconfident orange people in "The Only Way Is Essex"/AKA TOWIE and Channel 4's huge success following the vapid lives of rich, young over-privileged trustafarians in "Made In Chelsea" and decided it wants a piece of the action.
As co-founder of a website (albeit a fashion and beauty website) for older women, I think the BBC is just beginning to realise the value (in every sense) and importance to it of the 60-plus audience. Its (mainly young) producers, and the wits and stand-ups who regularly appear on Radio4 current affairs shows are very aware of this audience-segment and make knowing little asides about them, but no-one in any very senior role at the BBC has given any indication until now that he or (more likely) she thinks of the over-60s as an important demographic.
It is the same in retail fashion and beauty; when women reach the age of 60, ironically at precisely the moment when they have the money and appetite for buying clothes and beauty products, the industries turn their back on them.
So far, on Close To The Edge, I am really liking Faye, with her pixie haircut and beautiful sky-blue coat, and Dee with her blonde bob and brilliant eyewear. I know I am going to treasure widower John, with his paunch and Michael Parkinson-style haircut, who wore a neon orange blazer to a party, which earned him a makeover from Beate and cougar Jan.
I will watch Close To The Edge with interest, its antennae primed to detect any hint of patronising or ridiculing of this demographic. If it is a hit show for the BBC, perhaps it will make them realise that there are sentient, intelligent seniors who don't fit their (young) staffers' stereotypes...