BBC2 checks into “Real Marigold Hotel”

Inspired by the hit Hollywood film, BBC2 will air a Twofour-made travel docuseries following eight senior citizens to India, while the British pubcaster has also ordered a three-part series on Europe's refugee crisis.
January 7, 2016

Inspired by the Hollywood film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, BBC2 has signed on for a travel doc series following eight senior citizens heading to India on an “experimental adventure.”

The 3 x 60-minute series – produced by Twofour – follows actor Miriam Margolyes, dancer Wayne Sleep, actor Sylvester McCoy, comedian Roy Walker, chef Rosemary Shrager, darts champion Bobby George, singer Patti Boulaye, and former news reader Jan Leeming. The program – inspired by the hit film, but otherwise unrelated, according to the BBC – follows the group in India for three weeks to see if they might consider retiring there.

“Four thousand miles from home, the group will land in colorful Jaipur, capital of the state of Rajasthan in Northern India, to test whether they can set up a better, more rewarding retirement here than in the UK,” reads a release from the UK pubcaster.

In addition to traveling around the country together, the group is to take over a haveli - an Indian private mansion – and figure out how to set up and run their home, and whether or not they will hire staff.

BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw says the series is part of a plan for the channel to tackle a number of contemporary issues, ranging from the black economy to low pay.

“I’m delighted to be kicking off with this warm and very funny experiment examining how we spend our older years,” she said in a statement. “With a terrific line-up of characters, The Real Marigold Hotel is both entertaining and incredibly moving and raises some big questions about the way we live the later part of our lives.”

The series is exec produced by David Clews and Andrew Mackenzie, while David Vallance is series editor. It was commissioned by Shillinglaw and Clare Sillery, BBC commissioning editor for documentaries.

The Real Marigold Hotel is tentatively set to air later this month.

Elsewhere, the pubcaster has ordered a three-part BBC2 series documenting the journeys of migrants trying to reach Europe. Produced by Keo Films, the program is to make use of self-shot footage and follow more than 70 people, including families fleeing violence and persecution and economic migrants looking for better opportunities.

The series was commissioned by Shillinglaw and Clare Paterson, commissioning editor for documentaries, as well as Fiona Campbell, head of current affairs. William Anderson and Andrew Palmer are exec producing for Keo Films.

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.