Amazing greys or amazing disgrace?

Posted on May 12, 2014 by Eleanor McKenzie
Amazing Greys TV programme reviews

I groaned inwardly when I saw the TV listing: Amazing Greys. What a pun. Somebody in television land must be mightily pleased with that smart bit of wordplay. The basic idea is that people with grey hair compete against young people and show that they still have what it takes. Is this positive or patronising, I asked myself?

Presenter Paddy

Him Indoors couldn’t understand what I was making such a fuss about. When I mentioned that I was considering writing about it, he let it slip that he’d actually watched it (I must have dozed off during Casualty on BBC 1) and didn’t “think it was too bad,” on the basis that he likes Paddy McGuinness in “Max and Paddy” Personally, after watching “Take Me Out” a few times, I can take or leave young Paddy.

Amazing Angela

Paddy’s co-presenter Angela Rippon, on the other hand, reminds me of my mother and can pronounce “guerrilla” flawlessly. And I do love the shade of grey her hairdresser has managed to achieve. It’s an elegant silvery white. She’s in charge of the Amazing Grey team. Just her presence gives them kudos. And Digital Spy agrees with me.

Bowling club blues

I sat down to watch the first show prepared to thoroughly dislike it. My prejudice was not dampened by the appearance of Angela’s team in what looked like bowling club blazers. Why make them look like a bunch of old fuddy-duddies? It turned out that this team was made up of professional sports people and quiz champions. Hmmm, I sense a not quite level playing field here.

The power of practice

Paddy is championing the young contestants, who start off full of bluster. First on is a cheeky 26-year-old Geordie: he faces Henry Clark, a 72-year-old power lifter. It’ll be easy says the Geordie. Oh yeah? You don’t practice this every day and you’re not a professional, I tell the television screen. And, Henry the Grey wins. I see how this is going to play out and I consider switching to Millionaire Matchmaker for a bit of fun.

Destroyed by Diddy David

But, OMG it’s Diddy David Hamilton up next. And he beats the Geordie in a song-naming contest. Then Duncan from Manchester, who works in sports marketing is destroyed by racing cyclist Derek Stewart, who at 77 still cycles 150 miles per week. I think that £10,000 prize money is pretty safe for the moment.

The experience advantage

Despite the supposed strength and stamina of youth, I have little confidence that any of them can beat this lot with their experience and years of practice. And that’s what this show makes clear. People who are 50+ have a very real advantage over younger people. We’ve had the time to acquire more knowledge and we’ve had the opportunity to build experience.

Reviews and your views

I won’t continue watching Amazing Greys and I’ll be interested to see if it gets to a second series. The professional reviewers are divided. The programme format feels somewhat patronising to me and makes me think that the “amazing greys” are similar to a freak circus sideshow. Older people deserve television airtime but, is this game show format the best way to go about it? You tell me!

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.