Inspired by John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, BBC 2 brings us The Real Marigold Hotel, a whole new kind of celebrity travelogue. Eight famous pensioners, including Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep and Rosemary Shrager, spend three weeks in India in order to decide if they would enjoy a better retirement there than in the UK.
The pensioners not only have to acclimatise to Indian weather and the hustle and bustle of the city of Jaipur, but must also immerse themselves into a completely alien culture. However, what with bossy and controlling Rosemary Shrager, and the highly entertaining but work-shy Miriam Margolyes, it quickly becomes evident that the biggest challenge may be that of eight near-strangers learning to live in each other’s pockets: “I do fart, and they have to accept that”, Miriam says, articulating her own unique issues with communal living.
Staying in the heart of Jaipur’s ‘pink city’, the celebrities enjoy an area steeped in history and beautiful architecture. However, as shown by Wayne Sleep’s shrieks at the Jaipur traffic, and the group’s shock at the endemic disparity between rich and poor, the cultural differences sometimes prove too much.
Although The Real Marigold Hotel is ultimately a frivolous social experiment, it does tell us something about our attitude as a nation towards the elderly. Additionally, due to the strong sense of community, the low cost of living and the warm climate, a retirement in India does seem an inviting prospect.
Image: Kyle McCarthy