The Real Marigold On Tour

Written by Ben Felsenburg

How times have changed when it comes to the Englishman – and woman – abroad. Long gone are the days of pith helmets and gunboat diplomacy. Yet now there is a far more terrifying threat awaiting Johnny Foreigner: globe- trotting British celebrities flown hither and thither in reality shows.

The Real Marigold On Tour (BBC2, Monday, 9pm) is a follow-up to the BBC2 series last year which gave a group of well-known older folk the chance to try out India as somewhere for retirement, inspired by the lovely  comedy movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Now we zoom around the world – from Iceland and Thailand to Cuba – in a new four-part series.

The starting point is China and specifically Chengdu, a city of 14 million people and temporary home to the potential retirees. Thanks to the legacy of the one-child policy, this is a country whose population is ageing faster than any other on earth, but the local OAPs prove to be a dynamic and healthy-living example to us all. Not that the visitors are lacking for energy: Miriam Margolyes hardly stops talking as she makes her views on every subject under the sun abundantly clear, Wayne Sleep looks almost as lean and fit as in his Royal Ballet days and Rosemary Shrager is always ready to take charge, especially when it comes to the food.

Quite whether we’ll all be tempted to learn Mandarin and emigrate is open to question, but there’s plenty here to make you at least consider a visit.