Peter Rhodes on invisible oldies, a stunning supercar and a TV series totally unspoiled by progress

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Perfectly pitched (Owl Power - Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh)
Perfectly pitched (Owl Power - Photographer: Parisa Taghizadeh)

You probably think the entire motor industry is striving to produce clean, green machines plaited from lentils and running on electricity extracted from buttercups. Not exactly. The new Ferrari Roma has a stonking great 3.8 litre petrol engine, hits 199mph, accelerates to 60mph in 3.4 seconds and does about 25mpg. With not a hint of irony, one motoring writer hails it as “practical and chilled out.”

A reader describes the embarrassment of asking someone not to enter his home because of the Covid-19 regulations and asks: “This virus is very serious but how do you convince people that it is?”

The convincing, I fear, is just around the corner. For the majority of Brits, this pandemic is not a PLU contagion. We don't know anybody who has died of it, so we assume it cannot harm People Like Us. At some stage in the second or third wave, Covid-19 will become a PLU killer. We will take the breathless, panicked phone call from a friend, workmate or relative that begins: “Have you heard about Brian . . . ?” and everything will change.

The most chilling words spoken during this lockdown came from a student who said he didn't need to isolate “because I won't meet anyone vulnerable for at least three months,” by which he presumably meant seeing Gran and Grandad at Christmas.

So what of the other elderly people he meets during an ordinary day? I suspect if you asked that young man how many over-70s he had been within two metres of in the past 24 hours, he'd answer none. But re-run the CCTVs and you'd see him cheek-by-jowl with dozens of old folk: the shoppers, the shopkeepers, the bus passengers, the fellow drinkers and the oldies in every queue. It's simply that they don't register because, as far as young people are concerned, old people are invisible.

For proof of that, look no further than the Radio Times. Gone Fishing (BBC2) ended its third series with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse angling for chub on the Wye. Millions of fans can't wait for the next series. The Radio Times condescendingly refers to it as “the unlikeliest of essential weekly watches.” Unlikeliest? Who says?

Gone Fishing may seem an unlikely success if you're a thirtysomething BBC media hipster who thinks the world revolves around London. The reality is that Gone Fishing is that rarest of things, a series made by the BBC for the sort of provincial over-60s who make up a majority of the Beeb's audience and pay its television licence.

Like The Repair Shop (BBC1), Gone Fishing enchants an often-overlooked audience. It is, as the beer ad used to boast, totally unspoiled by progress. Our fear is that the fourth series may be mucked about to make it more “relevant.” The truth is that programmes like Gone Fishing are massively relevant while so much “relevant” TV is entirely irrelevant.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News