Channel 4 commissions second series of a BAFTA nominated TV show featuring a University of Birmingham lecturer

University of Birmingham Chartered Physiotherapist Dr Melrose Stewart will return to our TV screens in a new series of Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds’.

It follows the success of the first series of the BAFTA-nominated TV show in 2017, which brought together the very young and the very old for a six-week period to attempt to prove in a social experiment that these two generations can transform the physical, social and emotional well-being of the older volunteers for the better.

Dr Stewart, of the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, said: “I am incredibly excited and proud to be part of the new series of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which will continue to explore the impact of inter-generational interaction on the health and happiness of the older group.”

In the first series, ten four-year-old children and 11 people aged over 70 were brought together for six weeks in a new nursery setting within a retirement community in Bristol run by St Monica Trust.

Before the show started, the elderly participants were measured on their cognition, mood and depression, as well as physical abilities including balance and the ability to get up and walk. These measurements were taken again at three weeks and once more at the end of the six-week programme.

The programme consisted of a timetable of activities in which the two generations were given time and space to engage physically and socially. It included games, occasionally prompting individuals to get down on and off the floor, walking outdoors, picnicking and participating in indoor activities using a variety of craft and art work. The final week also included an inter-generational sports day and a short theatrical production.

A team of experts, which included Dr Stewart, medically tested the impact the children had on the older group and the results demonstrated significant improvements in mood, movement and mobility of the older group.

Dr Stewart added: “The results of this social experiment were remarkable and showed marked changes in the residents’ physical ability and mood.

“At the start of the experiment, nearly all of the residents were identified as depressed, two of them severely.

“After six weeks, none of them were registered as depressed - they had completely changed their outlook on life and in their hope for the future.

“Even the most sceptical person within the group, who had been heard to say ‘I can’t really see it making any great difference to us’, admitted that the children had brought ‘great joy’.”

The first series had such a considerable impact that St Monica Trust in Bristol announced it would be establishing a permanent nursery at one of its sites.

The new five-part series will once again create a nursery within a retirement community and this time the action will move to Lark Hill Village in Nottingham, the largest retirement community in the UK and one of the largest in Europe.

The experiment will be extended to a ten-week period as the expert team set out to create an activity driven model that will aim to deliver even more evidence of the positive impact on the older group. It is hoped it will result in a longer-term template for others to follow in a bid to transform the care of the elderly across the UK.

This time round, the younger group will also be observed to see how they benefit from the interaction with the older adults.

The team of experts joining Dr Stewart will be Gerontologist Professor Malcolm Johnson, Consultant Geriatrician Dr Zoe Wyrko, Biogerontologist Dr James Brown and Early Years Specialist Alistair Bryce-Clegg.

Ten older adults and ten four year olds will share daily activities designed by the experts who will measure and analyse the older groups’ physical and mental progress throughout. As well as analysing frailty, memory and mood, there will also be a series of new tests.

Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds was commissioned by Channel 4 Acting Head of Factual Entertainment Lucy Leveugle. The series will be made once again by CPL Productions, a Red Arrow Studios company, with executive producers Murray Boland, Danielle Lux and Trish Powell. Benjamin Leigh will Series Produce and Direct.

Channel 4’s Acting Head of Factual Entertainment, Lucy Leveugle said: “We are absolutely delighted to be supersizing Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds by taking it to the UK’s largest retirement community for a longer period of time. The continuing legacy of this series is testament to the universality of the issue of social isolation and loneliness. Both the older residents and the children’s stories are compelling and heart-warming and we are so grateful to them for sharing them with us.”

Creative Director for CPL Productions, Murray Boland said: “We are so proud to be making a second series of Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. It is the most important programme that any of us have ever made”

Red Arrow Studios International distributes Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds worldwide.

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For more information please contact Emma McKinney, Communications Manager (Health Sciences), University of Birmingham, by emailing e.j.mckinney@bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 6681. Alternatively, contact the Press Office out of hours on +44 (0)7789 921165.


Notes to editors:

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries. Physiotherapy at the University of Birmingham ranks as No 1 in the Complete Univerity Guide.
  • Dr Melrose Stewart is a lecturer in the School of Sports, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, TEDx speaker and Chartered Physiotherapist. Based on her involvement in ‘Old people’s Home for 4 year Olds’ in 2017, she delivered a TEDx talk in 2017 entitled ‘Connecting Generations for Healthy Ageing’. She is former Vice President of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. In 2017 she was the recipient of a Distinguished Service Award from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy for her services in the area of equality and diversity. Her PhD focused on the topic of cultural competence in undergraduate physiotherapy education. She lectures in the topic at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and has a keen interest in the development of the subject within physiotherapy education and professional practice. In other areas of curricula, she is on the international expert panel of academics for the Electrophysical Forum, and interactive platform for the use of electro physical modalities. She has taught widely across curricula and continues to champion her interest in public health both locally and within the media.
  • CPL Productions is one of the most successful independent TV and radio production companies in the UK. The company’s output spans primetime entertainment, comedy, factual entertainment and scripted drama. An impressive roster of hit shows includes Sky One’s BAFTA-winning A League Of Their Own, ratings-busting spin-off A League of Their Own US Road Trip and the return of Harry Hill to our screens in Harry Hill’s Tea-Time. ITV1’s Off Their Rockers, All Star Mr & Mrs, Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule and the popular drama Brief Encounters. Channel 4’s Married At First Sight, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds and the recent How Did You Get So Rich? as well as BBC One’s Decimate. CPL have also produced a number of Game of Throne related series for Sky Atlantic including Game of Thrones: The Story so Far and Game of Thrones: Greatest Moments featuring interviews with the cast and crew. CPL Productions is part of Red Arrow Studios.
  • Lark Hill Village is operated by The ExtraCare Charitable Trust, a registered charity since 1988. Our vision is better lives for older people. To deliver our vision we essentially do three things: develop new villages, operate villages and schemes, support our villages, schemes and our ‘extra-care’ model through fundraising, advocacy and research. Each village or scheme has 5 to 18 social, health and leisure facilities that are accessible to our residents, volunteers and local people representing all age groups living in surrounding communities. Our Charity Shops help fund care and well-being services for older people living at our each of our locations. For further information contact Richard Tower on 0772 055 3658.