Could 4-year-olds be the best medicine for the malaise of old age? That’s the question that the Red Arrow Studios International social-experiment format Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds answers in the affirmative, as it introduces ten preschool-aged kids to ten elderly care-home residents to improve their health and overall well-being.
Over the course of the experiment, the retirement-home dwellers and their younger counterparts participate in daily activities devised by a gerontologist, a geriatrician and other specialists. This team of experts also measures and analyzes the progress made by the older participants, who undergo a series of baseline tests at the outset of the social experiment and are then tracked and tested throughout.
Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds came to Red Arrow Studios International through the Red Arrow Studios company CPL Productions, a U.K. indie that specializes in social-experiment formats. The format originally launched on Channel 4 in the U.K., where it immediately found success. The series’ premiere spiked a 54-percent increase on the channel’s slot average, and more than 3 million viewers tuned in to its Christmas special. Recognized with such honors as the Grierson Award and an Edinburgh TV Award, the show had a second-season debut in the U.K. that saw a 60-percent increase in the channel’s average prime-time share.
“The show received a fantastic reception in the U.K., and Channel 4 was over the moon with the audience response and level of engagement, particularly on social media,” says Harry Gamsu, VP of non-scripted at Red Arrow Studios International. “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds is now an event series and a returnable prime-time entertainment hit. It’s a key brand and ratings driver for Channel 4.”
Since its successful launch in the U.K., Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds has been licensed into more than ten territories, including Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Israel, France, Sweden and Poland. The series is produced by Dlo/Magnolia for Movistar+ in Spain and by RedSeven Entertainment for VOX in Germany, where it has been commissioned for a second season after increasing VOX’s share in the 14- to 49-year-old demo by 30 percent and performing 97-percent above the channel’s average slot share among the 14-to-29 set. The format aired on NPO1 in the Netherlands and has been co-produced by ABC and Endemol Shine for Australia, where it will soon launch.
“The new local adaptations have largely stayed true to the U.K. original and retained the tone that makes the format so successful and engaging; it needs to be heartfelt and serious, but it’s also funny and thought-provoking,” says Gamsu. “The casting and duty-of-care are key pillars when creating new versions, and being able to call on CPL Productions’ wealth of expertise and experience has been invaluable in making sure the format has become a hit around the world.”
No matter where Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds travels, the affecting personal stories shared by the older participants and the kids’ exuberance, two key ingredients of the format, remain.
“The relationships formed between the two groups are deeply touching and emotional, and the positive results of the inter-generational experiment are there for every territory to see, and create really positive stories for broadcasters, from beginning to end,” says Gamsu, who believes that caring for aging populations is a universal concern that makes the format appealing to audiences worldwide.
CPL Productions and 44 Blue Productions are currently in discussions to take Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds to the U.S., where inter-generational living is on the rise. In Gamsu’s view, a local adaptation of the format “is a fantastic way of highlighting what a great idea it is, and the dramatic improvement it can have on the health and well-being of older adults.”