tue 26/09/2017

100 Year Old Driving School, ITV review – a warning with history | reviews, news & interviews

100 Year Old Driving School, ITV review – a warning with history

100 Year Old Driving School, ITV review – a warning with history

These reality stars had a lot to say, but little of it was from the Highway Code

I'm alright, Jack: the judo 9th dan showed that age is just a number

While Horizon, on BBC2, was telling us that the first person to walk on Mars could well be walking among us now, ITV's 100 Year Old Driving School suggested that the space mission could take a major setback if that wannabe astronaut were to encounter Joan Beech on the roads. She was one of the (mainly nonagenerian) drivers who had agreed to have their driving assessed to see whether they were still roadworthy. 

In the case of Joan (pictured below), it was a firm "no". Wrong gear, a failure to distinguish between different gears (or, indeed, left and right) and the identification of a sharp deviation sign as one telling her to “bend down” were just some of the niggles that the examiner had. While she shouldn’t be on the roads, driving remains a lifeline to her as a person living on her own. What to do? Invest in a decent public transport infrastructure would be my bet. 

For John, a 102-year-old naval officer, the case was slightly less clear-cut. The examiner wanted some key points to be addressed, but John’s family, with all the entitled confidence that only the upper classes seem able to muster, took this as a tacit pass. Someone who couldn’t read a number plate accurately with his glasses on and then took them off for driving; someone who drives on the wrong side of a country road “to see what’s coming”; whose main takeaway thought when driving next to a row of parked cars is that the owners haven’t got garages, and that any emerging pedestrians should look after themselves is still on the road. That’s not about age, that’s about a very particular type of person. A selfish one. 
100 Year Old Driving School

It was, though, far from a litany of disasters. Jack, a judo 9th dan, impressed with exuberance and a positivity that was a joy to watch, and Jill (91, Toyota Corina owner) was lovely. Need for speed nearly did for her (and one point she thought she was being pursued by police), but she was clearly capable and funny – not to mention engaging. That’s important, of course, because this was as much about people and stories as it was driving ability. 

These were people who have loved and lost, people who have had rich and colourful lives and it was this, rather than the near collisions, that really impacted. From John talking about his time his boat was torpedoed in the Second World War, to Jill recalling the loss of her daughter and husband, the show presented the people here in broader terms than their abilities on the road. While age can put limitations on our physical selves, it is really just the cover that binds our experience. 

There seemed to be no limitations on 101-year-old Jock, however. As he belted over speedbumps on his moped, his love of life – and of his departed wife, Babs – provided a genuinely moving moment. People can be dismissive of reality TV, and often with good reason. However, when it simply opens a window into the lives of others, it can work, and deserve a place in our schedules. If only someone would have the confidence to produce a series of everyday oral histories without feeling the need to build it around an asinine arc or an arch voiceover…

@jahshabby

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