Amazing Greys – your new favourite show if you have compromised feelings about old people

Originally published here.

If you’re at home on a Saturday night, then you’ll probably watch Britain’s Got Talent. You can be forgiven for this.

Where else, in one achingly drawn-out two hour period, could you reasonably expect to see a dancing owl, Simon Cowell’s freshly-conditioned chest hair and a 79-year-old woman wrapping her legs around a young man’s face? Well, probably Vegas, but you couldn’t eat salt and vinegar Hula Hoops in your pajamas at the same time, and that would be a sad thing.

HOWEVER. If you turned the TV off after BGT then you would have missed out on the most confusing show ever to turn up on ITV. Behold:

This is not a McGuinness family portrait.

 This show is called Amazing Greys, because somebody in the show’s production department is a fucking genius and deserves to have a minor tube station named after them. In this show, Paddy McGuinness touches a woman old enough to be his mother aggravatingly familiarly while middle-of-the-road-twenty-somethings (ie YOU) attempt to trounce elderly folk in the field in which they once excelled.

This is me at the beginning of the show, questioning my life decision.

Saturday’s show featured a weight-lifter, a cyclist, a darts player, a quiz-show maven and a DJ, all old, all grey-haired and all dressed as sexually-confused Eaton schoolboys.

End Blyton should write this book.

The problem with this show was the presumption that age precludes a person from excellence. These were people who had won medals and broken records – who had practiced their craft for decades. And we were expected to believe that varicose veins and a few years of retirement would have turned them into something that the most utterly average of young people could decimate.

 Of course, predictably, the best part of the whole thing was watching the young hopefuls get trashed. Squatting their own body weight while watching grandpa do the same, only faster and more decorously. Those that managed to beat their elderly opponents did so only because of head-starts and other contrived whatnot. And one imagines that they all then went home and were much nicer to their grandparents.

It was almost kind of depressing, watching as a prime example of the prideful young adults struggling to maintain their dignity onscreen. My grandmother used to teach young soldiers to drive tanks. Now, at 100 years old, there are probably still many things she can do better than me (teaching soldiers to drive tanks is among those things, understandably. I can’t even drive a Toyota).

Converted? Or drunk?

It’s pretty well pitched though, this celebration of purportedly past-it pensioners.

The inclusion of Paddy McGuinness as host is a stroke of genius, since we’re already solidly accustomed to him in character as the host of a show that we should find horrifically demeaning but actually are very entertained by. It’s his calling. It’s his path. It’s almost offensive to me, his ability to piss me off even as I think about him naked. He should be Prime Minister, quite honestly.

Yes, cans of Dark Fruit Strongbow were consumed while I watched. Yes, the wide-legged purple pants of the under-used female co-presenter gave me conflicting feelings. Yes, I enjoyed the spectacle of 25-year-old able-bodied wankers being obliterated.

Does this change the fact that this is ageist gap-fill television? No, it does not. Will I watch it again? No comment.

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