BBC4 is making a structured reality show about a group of over 60s in Bournemouth.
Close to the Edge is described as a documentary series “mixing elements of story-telling techniques from drama and documentary in a bold new form”. Like popular reality shows The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea, it will feature real people “devising and improvising many of the scenes themselves” as well as entirely scripted scenes.
Among the “diverse group of friends” – who are all in their 60s, 70s and 80s – are a business entrepreneur, a comedian dating for the first time in 40 years and a political activist. As well as capturing “the romance and real life drama of their everyday lives”, Close to the Edge will explore how participants cope with the challenges of getting older, such as illness and loneliness.
Plus, unlike its younger forbears, the final instalment will include frank interviews in which they’ll share their views on the social changes that have taken place in their lifetimes, from the role of women to attitudes to sexuality.
The show is being made by Electric Ray, who are also behind BBC1’s new Saturday night game show Prized Apart.
“Close to the Edge is a surprising new series that gives the older generation the opportunity to tell their own stories,” said BBC4’s channel editor Cassian Harrison. “The programme is a piece of real BBC Four innovation that reveals the passions, predilections and prejudices that beat as strongly in the hearts of the over-60s as any other generation.”
Electric Ray’s managing director Karl Warner added: “Television about old age tends to be focused on single issues but Close To The Edge combines drama and documentary to help give a voice to a broader range of stories being lived out by the over 65s. The cast are complex, funny and outspoken – and like most things in life, get better with age.”