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So what did Mary’s Silver Service deliver?

by on June 5, 2014

Did anyone else spot the tag “Age against the Machine” on the whiteboard in the background on the first episode of Mary’s Silver Service last night?  Brilliant!

I was uncertain of what to expect from this programme – in part based on previous Portas programmes and in part dreading how the topic might be handled.  Overall I think it was fabulous and I’m off to track down the fab Cocktail guy wherever he is working to get one of those Manhattan’s.

But the Guardian asked “is it all a bit patronising really?” while noting (as did I) that “in the first 10 minutes of the show, the word “scrapheap” was said about half a dozen times”.  This said Telegraph’s review concluded “it was hard not to find Phyllis – last spotted downing champagne and eating the upside down pineapple cake she was supposed to be serving – beguiling. Thanks to, and much like its participants, the show was creaky but charming”.  Indeed I challenge anyone to watch Phyllis (91) tell Mary that she had turned up for work in the Silver Service kitchen shortly after receiving a diagnosis for cancer and not feel a huge sense of admiration.  I only wished they had managed to recruit my 104 yr old Aunty Mim – she would have been in her element!

But what about other reaction?  The twitter stream seemed somewhat divided between the programme as patronising and inspirational while a few comments alluded to the old taking jobs from the young and why weren’t they simply ‘volunteering’.  (No time at the moment but I plan to check back and see how programmes aimed at giving the ‘young’ a chance are received too).  And this is where I felt the programme didn’t perhaps do enough.  There was a lot of justification of the skills these individuals brought to the workplace and the need to avoid loneliness and restore confidence – all of which are very good.  But – apart from a very brief segment on the landlady who had lost her job and her home on retirement – there was very little here about the financial necessity of work for the many of the over 65’s the programme was aimed at.  Still its only the first of three programmes in the series so we hope this may feature later on.  Really great to see that subsequent programmes will feature physical tasks such as gardening and fitness!

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