The BBC comedy, Waiting for God, is set in a retirement village - a location that belies the fact it contains some sharp humour and features two spirited seniors, who entertain themselves by running rings around the management.
Written by Michael Aitkens, who has also been on the writing team of drama series Midsomer Murders since 2006, it initially ran on BBC1 for five series, between 1990 and 1994. It has proved so popular that re-runs are still broadcast to this day in the UK on the Drama and Gold channels. A total of 47 episodes, including two specials, were set in the fictional Bournemouth retirement home, Bayview.
The main characters are retired photo-journalist Diana Trent (played by Stephanie Cole) and her "partner in crime", Tom Ballard (played by Graham Crowden). The duo couldn't be more different in terms of their personalities.
Diana is furious that her family has put her in a retirement home and is angry about everything, while Tom is more laid back, jolly and optimistic. However, they share the same sense of justice and enjoy trouble-making, so together they make an ideal combination, bouncing off each other to create the show's first-class comedy.
Harvey Bains (played by Daniel Hill) is the miserly manager of Bayview. He is always trying to cut costs to make more money for himself and doesn't like elderly people in general. He particularly dislikes Diana, who takes great delight in thwarting his budget-slashing schemes.
His assistant, Jane Edwards, (played by Janine Duvitski) is prudish and devout, but unlike Harvey she is always trying to think up new ideas to make the home a better place. Harvey is continually trying to get rid of her, yet strangely, she harbours an unrequited passion for him.
All five series of Waiting For God have been a huge success. The clever script empowered a group of elderly people, who felt pushed out by their family and by modern life in general. The humour showed elderly people to be cultured, formidable and funny and viewers were laughing with them, rather than at them.
Some episodes stand out, and they’re sure to go down in popular television history. In one episode, Jane and Diana go on an unlikely night out to a strip club for a hen night! In another episode, Tom goes bungee jumping, while he and Diana team up against Harvey and take a conservation stance when he plans to extend the retirement home.
As well as being humorous, the sharp scripts challenge typical stereotypes of elderly people sitting round in armchairs watching TV in retirement homes. Instead, they are portrayed as valuable members of society, who have a lot to offer.
Although living in a retirement home with residents like Tom and Diana would be amazing, in the real world, we need to make sure our retirement is properly planned to ensure we have financial stability and a good quality of life.
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