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Charlie Higson says the BBC is 'forever tying itself in knots' over audience age obsession

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Charlie Higson, 62, appeared to take a swipe at the BBC over being too age-conscious when it comes to their older viewers, claiming that some younger TV executives at the broadcaster believe that people aged over 60 only want to watch gardening programmes etc. Branding the insinuation as categorically untrue in most cases, the actor insisted “old people don’t feel old”, admitting he himself feels like he’s 19 at heart, despite turning 63 this year.

In a recent interview, Higson shrugged as he said: “The BBC is forever tying itself in knots about the ageing demographic of its viewers, and some younger executives seem to think that us ‘old’ people only want to watch gardening programmes, reruns of All Creatures Great and Small and documentaries about Vera Lynn. Or tanks.

“I don’t. I want to watch new things,” he snapped.

“I want to watch something startling and original. And I’d really like to watch a new sketch show with a group of young people making comedy about the world we live in.”

Higson went on to discuss the way the media portray the over 60s, revealing they are partly to blame for the misconception that people just over the middle-age mark spend their days “riding up and down in a stair lift, wearing comfy slippers, a nice cardie and a pair of incontinence pants,” when actually they’re in the prime of their lives.

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“A 60-year-old woman today is far more likely to be seen jogging around the local park in lycra and trainers, listening to a podcast on her mobile phone, than she is to be seen waddling to the hairdresser to get her blue rinse redone, wearing fur-lined booties and pushing a tartan shopping bag on wheels,” he retorted.

The actor went on to say that “old people have changed” from that of past years.

“And, as I’m going to be 63 this year, I count myself as one,” he sighed.

“The common myths are that we only eat meat and two veg, don’t know how to work mobile phones and panic at the sight of a computer.”

But he wasn’t in denial: “Physically, things get tougher, yes (putting on socks becomes an Olympic event), and, if you’re unlucky, dementia takes hold,” Higson went on to explain.

“But ask anyone in their 60s or 70s what age they think of themselves as and they’ll most likely say somewhere in their 20s or 30s.

“I think of myself as about 19. I’ll often be in a meeting and think, ‘Well, they’re all so much more grown up than me. To them I’m just the kid here,’ and have to remind myself that they’re all at least 20 years younger than me.”

He told Radio Times that he doesn’t think it’ll ever hit him that he’s now a 60-year-old man, and got a shock when he realised he needs to be even more careful during the pandemic.

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“I constantly wonder when I’m going to feel grown up. Possibly never,” he laughed.

“I certainly can’t believe I’m over 60. When evidence emerged last year that the coronavirus was more serious for the over-60s, I thought, ‘Phew, I’ll be OK, then.’

“And then it hit me – I was one of these apparently expendable old people.”

The actor admitted he found getting older a “slightly sobering experience” but refuses to consider retirement now he has new projects in the works.

“I have no desire to retire, though, not for a very long time,” he stated.

“I mean, what would you do all day? I love doing new things.

“It’s a cliché, but it keeps you young.”

Express.co.uk approached BBC for comment.

Higson’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.



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