Documentary. Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager and Bobby George reunite to sample retirement in China.
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This programme contains some strong language.
How beautiful is this?
This is like the equivalent of walking into the sunset, isn't it?
Where in the world would you choose to spend your golden years?
We shouldn't just look at our own little bit of the world,
we've got to go out, and see what's there, and meet people,
and learn things.
A group of well-known senior citizens are on a global quest...
..travelling the world in search of the perfect place to grow old.
-Is this it?
-This is it?
I suppose the worst thing about growing old is not being able
to do what you did when you were young.
Without being arrested!
These three famous pensioners became old friends
experiencing retirement in India.
-Oh, it's so nice.
-The old gang back again.
-Isn't it lovely?
This time, Rosemary Schrager,
Wayne Sleep and Bobby George will be flying east
to reunite with Miriam Margolyes...
I'm hoping I'm going to learn something.
..and explore one of the world's oldest civilisations.
It's essential for me to see as much of the world
before I kick the bucket.
A country undergoing great change.
As ancient culture...
..gives way to modern advancement.
And with more than 140 million people over the age of 65,
the most populated nation on Earth
is having to find new ways to cope with its ageing population.
While Rosemary, Bobby and Wayne are travelling from the UK,
76-year-old Miriam has flown in from Hollywood.
China is particularly compelling,
because it is utterly different.
And that's what's so terrific about going with my chums,
because you've got someone to talk to,
and share the fun of it.
-Come round here.
-I can't believe it.
-Lovely to see you.
I am so pleased to see you.
You have no idea!
-Isn't it fantastic?
-Are you well?
Yeah, I am.
-You forgot me, darling.
-No, I didn't forget...
Saved the best till last!
No kissing! Don't want no kissing, darling.
Who's been to China before? Come on.
Shanghai and Beijing.
But 30 years ago.
I've never been to China.
It's somewhere I've always wanted to come to.
-all this talk, let's go and... Let's get...
But it's interesting.
-We'll do it on the bus.
Have you noticed my case?
-I've got a new suitcase.
Who couldn't notice it, Miriam?
The group have touched down in Chengdu,
the capital of China's Sichuan province.
Home to the giant panda.
And recently voted the country's happiest place to live.
There we are. Look, look, look.
Buses. Buses, that way.
They will be staying in the heart of the bustling city,
a 30-minute bus ride away.
Which is the way to the bus to the centre?
-Ask this guy.
-The city. City.
-Do you speak English?
-Bus this way?
Bus? Right, we need to go to the centre of Chengdu.
Oh, down here, OK, thank you.
I think we're walking on the road.
-Yeah, we have to get out the way of the taxis.
Rosemary, there's the kiosk!
Hello. Er, into the city.
I think it's going to be quite difficult not speaking the language.
-Quatro, or whatever you say.
-..to the city.
My children would say I have a tendency to use my hands.
Thinking they might understand.
I'm one of those, yes. Yes, I'm one of those!
What's "thank you" in Chinese?
Oh! Xiexie. Xiexie.
-Xiexie, xiexie. Well, xiexie.
Don't forget, I've got your tickets.
Oh, it's nice and cool.
Here we go.
We're off. Good luck, everybody.
-Here we come, China.
Home to a large concentration of pensioners,
Chengdu is one of the best examples of China's new approach
towards the elderly.
I've never seen so many high-rise apartments in my life,
coming in from an airport.
-Are you going to Chengdu?
You speak English.
-Do you mind me...? Is it rude to ask how old,
but is she very old?
How does she keep looking so well?
You see, we're fat.
We're fat. That's the problem.
Look how... Look how slim she is.
I hate being old.
I really wish I were younger.
But I'm not.
I'm an old lady.
I'm a fat old lady, and I'm a short, fat old lady.
Hello, Mum. Do you want to come out and have a drink with me tonight?
What did you say?
Yeah? Oh, dear! I didn't mean...
I was only joking!
Now you're in for it.
Yeah, go on, then.
I thought that was a crossing!
To fully experience the Chinese way of life,
the group will be staying in a residential area
in the heart of the city.
Where is that dog?
Don't you make that noise.
She's off already!
They'll be moving into the traditional family home
of their Chengdu-born host, Vicky.
-How are you?
-Hi, I'm Vicky.
-Oh, Vicky! Yeah.
Vicky, Vicky, Vicky.
Come in. This is the living room.
-This is the air conditioner.
Have you got any children?
Yes, of course. Yes.
Of course? What do you mean, of course?
I have two sons. They study now.
SO you have the place to yourself now?
-Except for us.
-Now we've come.
This is for you.
Well, I'm very happy with this room.
-So am I.
-I've bagged it.
No, I've already bagged it, sorry.
-When did you bag it?
-When did you...?
They're arguing now, over the bedroom.
One has to get in before the other one.
Miriam, that's a gorgeous one here, it's got the telly in, look.
I think it's best if I decide, don't you, which is best for me?
-You decide which is best for you.
-Come on, girls.
I'm fed up of Miriam always taking the...
..the best room!
I want to look at the one up here.
I am now ready for every eventuality with Miriam!
-They're all lovely, I think.
-So what ones do you want?
Which one do you want, Miriam?
Cos if you choose then we know what we're going to get.
Well, if I take this, then.
-The quietest, really.
I'm very happy.
INTERVIEWER: The whole floor to yourself?
I think that's a very good thing, don't you?
Good news, I've found the beer...
-..in my fridge.
You've made an old man very happy.
-Here's the water.
Will you marry me? Eh? Do you want to marry me?
-Welcome to Chengdu.
Huanying... Huanying lai dao wojia.
THEY TRY TO REPEAT GREETING
And why not?
Thank you for letting us have your house.
You're welcome. What do you do in your country?
What is your job?
-I throw darts.
You know the round screen?
-It's a game.
You aim it?
Yeah, aim at the target.
Aims for bull's-eye.
-I'm an actress.
-I'm an actress.
-Yeah, the film.
I was Professor Sprout.
Rosemary is a chef.
-This is Rosemary.
-This is Rosemary.
But anyway, there's Wayne, who's a very famous ballet dancer.
We know each other very well.
We don't sleep together, there's no sex between us.
-Thank God for that!
-But we are friends.
The mind boggles.
You can say that again, baby. No way, babes.
-No way, babes.
-That's just ruined my day, that has.
No way, babes.
I don't know about you guys but I'm absolutely exhausted from the journey.
-Yeah, we need to go to bed.
-I need to go and have a rest.
Oh, I can't be bothered.
Here we go.
This is all my husband's work.
Right. Bobby, I...
Ooh! Bobby! Have you just done one?
Jam tarted? No, that's Miriam!
That's just terrible.
The raspberry blower, she is, you know that.
It gets dark pretty quick here, then, doesn't it?
So you always use that?
-What, the stick?
This. No, I've just got a bad knee.
Oh, oh, oh.
It's the group's first evening in Chengdu.
-Hi. Watch your step.
-Have a seat.
-You all right?
-I'm all right, yeah.
Rejuvenated from their power naps,
they've decided to explore the local area.
Is there a restaurant nearby rather than a long way away?
Oh, yeah, of course.
-What's it called?
-They call it The People's Restaurant.
The People's Restaurant?
OK. Is it good food?
Yes. Absolutely. Yeah.
Can you do us a favour?
I don't know whether you lot agree, we need to learn some words,
because, Miriam, you can't eat anything with pork in it.
-Bu yao. OK.
-All right, hang on.
-Bu yao. So I'm going to write it how I think...
-Yeah, bu yao.
-We've got it, you see.
-What does that mean?
-What's that mean?
"No, I don't eat. I don't eat."
How do we say "no pork"...
-Which is bu yao...
-Bu yao zhurou.
SHE TRIES TO REPEAT PHRASE
-Z-O - zo.
Ooh, it's a lovely evening.
Oh, it's gorgeous, isn't it?
She said turn right, and then left at the end of the road.
And left at the end.
Little tiny shops.
Come on then, this way. This way.
We've got to wait till it's green.
In a city of more than 14 million people...
Complete and utter chaos!
..crossing the road at rush hour is not for the faint-hearted.
I think it's going to go green fairly soon.
-I hope so!
-Oh, here we go.
-Quick, quick. Quick, quick, quick.
Are you all right?
Oh, mind. Mind.
I'm very grateful to you.
I think you've probably saved my life.
-This is it.
-Having survived their brush with the traffic...
Have you got a table for four?
..dining out will give the group
their first chance to sample the regional Sichuan cuisine.
I don't know what I'm looking at.
It's all Chinese to me, mate.
It's all Chinese.
Can I say something? Miriam...
SHE TRIES TO SPEAK IN MANDARIN
No, she doesn't understand a word, Rosemary.
You've got to work on the accent, dear.
-No pork, no pork.
-I'm trying awfully hard.
This is very clever.
-Look. You photograph it, it says "white yao shrimp", see that?
Oh, yeah, I'll have some of that.
"Husband and wife lung film".
I don't eat adventurously.
I usually eat the same thing, day after day, after day,
because I like it.
I'm not really interested in experimentation.
Experiments are for scientists, not for Margolyes.
-Ah, there we are.
-It's not for me, this.
It's just not for me.
-This is awful!
It tastes like fat.
I can feel it sticking to the roof of my mouth.
It's not very pleasant.
-What is that?
-I don't know what they are.
Meat of some sort, isn't it?
I don't know what we're eating. I haven't got a clue.
They're all looking like that, so what is it?
-I've no idea.
-We eat westernised Chinese, that's the difference.
We're used to what we eat.
It's westernised Chinese.
-It's not the same.
If I had to eat that for the rest of my life, I'd be very skinny.
I mean, where is the beansprouts?
Where's all the things we have in England?
I haven't seen one beansprout since I've been here.
I think this is so authentic, it's fascinating.
Too bloody authentic!
Yeah, for you. It's too bloody authentic, for you.
It is another country, it is another cuisine, it is another culture.
And we will deal with it.
I'm sure that I'll have a more positive view of the place,
the more I get to know it.
It's been a baptism of fire, really, hasn't it?
Is there any cheese, do we know?
Is there any ch...? Is there any cheese?
Cheese. I'll tell you what I'm going to do,
do you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to organise you,
cos I can't bear it. I'm trying to let go, but I'm not going to.
OK, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. A tomato...
Tell us what you're going to do, Rosemary.
-Oh, now, look...
-Now, come on, tell us, because we want to know.
I like this running commentary on what you're going to do.
-Right, I'll tell you exactly what I'm going to do.
-I'm going to take two slices of bread...
I'm now going to get some butter.
This morning the group have decided to venture out and meet
some local pensioners.
Off we go.
Just a few miles away in the heart of Chengdu is the People's Park.
-Can you hear them singing?
It sounds like a Christmas carol, that.
Its lush 27 acres offer senior citizens a respite from the city.
And a chance to exercise and socialise at their leisure.
They're up so early and ready for action.
Look at it, dancing at this time of the morning.
-How's about that, Wayne?
-They're going to rule the world, I'm telling you.
-Yes, they will!
-Let's go and have...
-It's like Strictly in the park, at dawn.
-Let's go and have a wiggle.
-This is so funny.
Oh, look at these two. Hello.
-What do we do?
-What do we do? Do we dance?
-Do we just do it?
Can I come and join in?
-Oh, thank you.
This is jianzi.
Oh, my God!
Put it on your feet and kick it.
Drop it on your foot.
Dear, oh, dear.
You'll do some damage there, doll. I tell ya.
It keeps you fit, I think.
It's not easy. It looks easy.
Until you try it.
MUSIC PLAYS IN BACKGROUND
I don't know which way round I'm going.
Let's go over the top of these. Over the top. There you are.
Now you're in the middle. Now we go round, round, round.
Why do you actually do this every day?
Because it's happy.
-It makes you happy.
No, I understand that.
Yeah, happy. Exercises our body.
No, you're right, it is.
How old are you?
Do you do any other exercise?
Singing and dancing.
He is a big dancer in England.
Oh! I can see.
They dance for joy.
They don't dance for any other reason
but to find friends, keep fit,
and there's no pressure.
And I think that's the reason it works.
Oh, look at this wonderful monument.
After a morning of physical exertion,
retirees like nothing more than to while away the hours in one of the
city's traditional teahouses.
Wow, isn't it great?
Thank you. Thank you.
I can just fit in here!
I'm too fat.
I love it. I love little chairs.
For little people.
-Where did you meet them?
-Dancing. We met dancing.
-We met them in the park.
-You met them dancing.
-We went dancing.
-Oh, how lovely!
Now, we are here,
because they've invited us to the traditional tea of Chengdu.
Traditional tea in Chengdu.
-It's really nice. Do you like it?
-You don't like it, do you, Bobby?
-It's horrible. No, I don't.
-Bobby doesn't like it.
-What would you prefer, Typhoo?
What is life like here?
Are you enjoying it?
Can you sing something?
-Here we go.
Very, very good.
They definitely do enjoy a group activity.
I might not, myself, enjoy so much group,
because I like to be on my own a bit.
But it's lovely to see.
Oh! I can't see it.
It's not the kind of closed China that you think of when you think of
China, that they're all a bit weird and different.
Well, they are different,
and I think rather nicer than we are.
So, the place you go swimming is huanqiu zhongxin xinshiji.
Where do we get on?
You get on, you go down the street, turn left,
then you have the subway station.
Over 600 miles from the coast,
Chengdu's citizens who wish to go for a dip
must head to the local pool.
-Jin... Sorry, Jin...
For Miriam and Wayne, it means catching a ride on the Metro.
-OK, good, thank you.
-Here you go.
-Thank you, very much.
Do you think this is the Metro?
I'm sure it is.
-Oh, look, it says Metro.
-It says, M-E-T-R-O.
That sort of clinched it, you know.
Are you going to be able to make the steps, darling?
-What do you think?
-I'll go slowly.
You can phone a wheelchair. Do you want to try it?
Oh, this is fun.
It plays you a tune as it comes.
Opened in 2010,
Chengdu's Metro is one of the most modern networks in the world.
-We like it.
-I'll wheel you in.
Thank you. Oh, thank you.
Ready? Here we are.
-Come this way, madam.
I love our Underground system, I think the Tube is wonderful.
What is shocking is that it's jolly difficult for disabled people.
Isn't that nice?
When there are no escalators, or lifts,
we have to climb those bloody stairs.
And it's painful.
Well, that was lovely.
-There we are.
Off we go.
-There we are.
-What did you think?
-I thought it was brilliant.
-Wasn't it brilliant?
-It was until I...
-Where are you taking me, young man?
-Oh, that's the ticket kiosk.
-Oh, here we are.
I'd better get out.
THEY LISTEN TO RECORDING OF VICKY'S DIRECTIONS
With four lines traversing the city,
nearly 1 million people catch a ride on Chengdu's Metro every day.
Two, two. One, two.
You help us?
WAYNE REPEATS NAME OF STATION
-Have you got your ticket, Miriam?
-Yes, I have.
-Here we are.
Now we're on our own.
This is, this is real China.
This is what it's all about, isn't it?
After last night's struggles with the local food,
this evening Bobby has decided to cook for the group.
The first thing you need is a wok. OK? Because they don't have a wok.
OK, we'll wok this way, then, shall we?
Shall we wok this way?
He and Rosemary are visiting the local market
to stock up on the necessaries.
What about something like this one?
-That shouldn't stick?
-That shouldn't stick.
-That won't stick, will it?
No, no, I don't think so.
It's nonstick. How much?
HE SPEAKS IN MANDARIN
So, two, 20?
When shopping in China, haggling is actively encouraged.
-And with almost nine yuan to the pound,
the cost of living can be cheap.
-100, OK, OK, yes!
I've done my first bit...
-There we are.
Across the city,
Miriam and Wayne have arrived at their destination.
Oh, shit, look at that!
-Oh, my God.
The size of 22 Buckingham Palaces,
the New Century Global Center is one of the world's biggest buildings.
Look at this.
This is incredible.
I've never seen anything like it.
Housed under an 18-storey atrium,
locals can while away the hours in the centre's vast shopping mall,
Mediterranean village, and swimming pool.
I wonder if they've got an Apple shop.
Look at the fish, it's like an aquarium.
Wow. Look at all the marble!
It's like a palace, isn't it?
This must have cost a fortune to build.
It's unreal. It's surreal.
Well, there's the ladies, and mine will be over here.
It's huge. I suppose it's American in its inspiration.
And that slightly depresses me.
Is this bizarre or what?
-For a swimming pool.
..that we have to come this way.
I don't like this.
Look, there's a church over there.
Complete with an artificial beach,
the landlocked residents of Chengdu can soak up the delights of a
hi-tech 400-metre pool.
Oh, my God.
Shit! This is a fucking nightmare.
-It's bloody awful.
-What's this? Put it on?
Yeah, yeah. Must.
This is ridiculous.
Look, it doesn't go round me.
Oh, Gordon Bennett!
I think it's because of the waves, Miriam.
But I want to lap swim.
This isn't a lap swimming pool.
Oh, God, it's so disappointing.
It's nice and warm.
Once you're in here it's much nicer.
It's lovely, come on in, darling.
So... Could we have a cabbage?
Perfect. There we go.
We'll pack those for Miriam.
Spring onions? Perfect.
No, no, no.
-OK. Thank you very much.
This is a nightmare.
China is lovely.
But this pool is nonsense.
It's not a pool, it's a disaster.
I mean, it's a lot of expensive rubbish.
A waste of money.
I've really had enough. I'm sorry.
I hate this pool.
How do you get out of these bleeding things?
Give me anything to chop up.
God, it's a hive of industry in there.
The times I've hit my head on that bloody thing there.
What do you think that is, in there?
It's very nice.
That looks absolutely lovely.
They wouldn't serve pork, would they?
It's not pork, is it?
There's no pork, is there?
Ten out of ten.
-This is my kind of Chinese.
Tell us about your day.
We saw the modern China today.
It was all marble, the whole thing.
It was like being inside a huge palace,
and I think they did it that big...
It was a flaunt.
I mean, did it actually feel like China?
Well, only because the Chinese were there.
But it could have been anywhere in the world.
When I was in China 30 years ago I was young.
And when you're young it's all a thrill, it's all amazing.
It's all a discovery.
I'm not young any more.
And when you're abroad and not in control of your environment,
that inadequacy feels even sharper.
I'm not quite at ease yet here.
And I'd lie if I said I was.
I'm not normally this untidy.
I think I've got everything now.
I'll sort that out when I get back.
After a couple of days in Chengdu,
the group have decided to head out into the countryside for an overnight stay.
I feel very goody two-shoes because I've packed everything.
-Well, you just need a pair of pants, don't you?
-I don't bother.
You don't change your knickers?
-For many local retirees...
..rural retreats offer a welcome respite from the
pace and pollution of the city.
Last one always has to close the door in our family.
-I've got fodder.
Good. I haven't had a bowel movement.
I might have to have it on the train.
China has one of the largest high-speed rail networks in the world.
So escaping the confines of Chengdu couldn't be easier.
Have you got your passport, Miriam?
I keep it in my bra.
You need it now. Oh, I see.
A ticket to the country costs around £2.
You want to buy a ticket?
-Buy ticket? Two?
Four. Four tickets.
Here's your tickets.
-Yay, I've got it!
With over 2.5 billion passengers a year,
the trains in China run strictly on time.
I think it's...
It will be this one.
I'm not running.
I'm not running.
I could have a stroke!
I know. Just relax. Relax, relax.
-You are in. We're in.
-Oh, thank you.
-Thank you very much.
That's wonderful. Is this first class?
No. This is...
Is this normal, or is it up?
-This is normal?
This is great. This is how you travel!
-This is fabulous.
And you look so cute.
-Doing the old chat there, son?
-We are off, girls and boys.
-This is great, this is good.
Can you see that there's a lavatory?
-Oh, yes, there is.
-Isn't that excellent?
This is it. We've been on a bullet train.
I've been on a bullet train before.
Stop being so cocky!
Sshhh, just lower the noise, peeps.
Lower the noise.
Decorum, I think.
Yes, just behave like a normal person.
Just a 20-minute train ride out of the city lies Dujiangyan.
This is really pretty, you know.
-This is so pretty.
Covering over 400 square miles, the area is famed for supplying Chengdu
with water for over two millennia, and for its resident giant pandas.
Sorry, thank you. Thank you.
We are here.
I didn't know it was going to be sunny.
But also, doesn't it...? Breathe.
Isn't it divine?
It's sort of fresher, the air is fresher.
-How are you?
-Wayne, don't get carried away, come on.
You are very easily distracted.
-Did you see the nice boys?
It's called eye candy.
A favourite with the senior citizens of Chengdu...
Look at this! It's so beautiful.
..the group will be staying at one of the traditional country houses
called "Nong jia le".
Thank you. What's your name?
What's your name?
-What's your name?
My name's Rosemary.
-Oh, very nice.
This looks nice.
For as little as £30 a night...
That'll do me, son.
..retirees get an en-suite room...
..all their meals..
..and a more relaxed pace of life.
Oh, look at that.
May I come in and have a look?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Have a seat.
I have never seen, in my life, that happening, ever.
To hear the sound of rushing water along a stream is reminding me of
65 years ago,
when I used to go camping with my family onto Dartmoor.
We'd all pitch tents in this one field,
and we had a running brook just at the bottom.
We were lower working class, and we had no money whatsoever.
But we were happy.
-Rosemary, do you need...?
Sorry. SHE COUGHS
-Yes, have you got some water?
-Oh, my gosh.
-Bottled water, though!
Oh, my goodness me, that was hot!
And I can take hot. Be careful.
Is this green beans?
This evening, the group have decided to join some of their fellow guests
-It's on the move.
-It's on the move.
-It's on the move.
How often do you come here?
Stay here one month.
-Oh, they stay here one month.
Because, you know, all of the big city...
Do they feel that they are much more healthy
-when they go back to the city?
You can feel the difference.
That's the one, yeah, yeah. That's lovely.
I think it's a very beguiling place.
But for me, I wouldn't want to come here for a holiday.
Not to here.
You know, and when I go for a holiday
I want to be completely alone.
But it is, for most Chinese people, a delightful experience.
It just shows how different we all are.
CAMERA SHUTTER CLICKS
I know it seems silly, photographing trees.
But they fascinate me, how they...
..grow them. It's clever how they do it.
I like this place.
You can hear that water from the little fountain going.
That's all you can hear. You don't hear no cars.
I might get a water feature for my garden.
Before heading back to the city,
the group are keen to get a glimpse
of some of the region's most famous residents.
The Sichuan Mountains are one of the only places in the world
to see the iconic giant panda in their natural habitat.
-Oh, hello. Do you speak English?
Yes. What can I do for you?
-We've come to see pandas.
Have you seen a panda before?
-First we go to change our uniforms,
in case the panda get infected.
I would need a big one.
-What? I can't get into that.
I really love pandas.
And I really have wanted to see them.
So I'm very excited.
Let's go. Let's go to see real panda.
-We'll follow you.
-OK, come with me.
Covering over 760 acres, the Chengdu Panda Base rescues, rehabilitates,
and releases sick and injured wild pandas.
It's also a breeding facility,
designed to increase the numbers of this endangered species.
How many in the wild is there?
How many pandas left in the wild?
Is it hard to breed them?
It's getting better?
Oh, do they?
Oh, how sweet.
That's why I love pandas.
What, the boy and the girl?
-They're just like people, then!
-Well, not quite as quickly as that!
-Are you OK?
This is the pandas' enclosure.
And they can just play outside.
OK, these pandas, they are twin sisters.
-OK, guys, before we feed panda, I will show you, OK.
-Will it stroke me?
Can I stroke it?
No, no. Do not touch panda.
Do not touch panda.
-Who wants to be the first one to feed the panda?
You do first of all? OK.
Two-year-old twin sisters HurHur and ZhouZhou
are a successful result of the breeding programme.
SHE SOBS SOFTLY
I didn't expect it to just...
Just to be there.
You like that, don't you, mate, hey?
You just see it...
-..just like that.
I mean, it looks lovely, I'm looking forward to it,
it obviously doesn't do that to me, but how sweet.
Oh, dear. Are you all right?
-It's so special to see it like that.
It's special. It's special.
-It is special.
-But it's just a panda.
I think you need to go in before me to feed it, because I can wait.
-Are you OK?
It's your first time getting so close to pandas?
You want me help you?
Yeah, get closer.
Take it easy, yeah?
I'm feeling really hard.
I feel really hard.
I feel... You know, I am emotional, I'm an emotional person.
-You are so beautiful.
You are so beautiful.
I'll go and to feed it and see what it's like.
I'm sure it's absolutely lovely, but it's just a panda.
Hello. Hello, you.
It's so beautiful.
Miriam's got very emotional.
I didn't know she was that soft, actually, until now.
She's usually the hardest of the group.
Always in charge, always in authority.
Always shouting at other people.
Suddenly, she's melted like wax!
Quite interesting to see that.
-Now, that is beautiful.
-Now he's posing!
Four-year-old Fu Bao was born in Austria,
and moved to the centre two years ago.
I never thought I'd feed a panda...
I never thought I'd be here to look at a panda, if you want the truth.
Here he comes, look!
All right, mate, how you going?
These extraordinary creatures, it's just a piece of magic.
That was something.
Right, let's go. Did you enjoy that, Miriam?
Oh, gosh, did I ever!
Vicky, you're going to miss us when we go.
-No, she's not!
Do you think we're very strange?
-Well, you are.
-Well, you are!
-Yes, you are.
-You're as bonkers as I am.
The thing is, we have little foibles.
We all have bad habits.
Very much so. We all have things wrong with us.
Yes. Some are louder than others.
-You are very funny.
-They think I'm terribly loud. I don't...
-I don't mean that.
Your voice is loud, Bobby is quiet.
Bobby's very quiet. Well, he can't get a word in edgeways with us three.
I call Bobby a gentle giant.
He's lovely. He's absolutely lovely.
And we need somebody like that to keep us down, keep us calm.
With retirement starting at 50,
the Chinese government has been faced
with what to do with the growing senior population.
Across the country is a network of nearly 50,000 elder education
institutions, offering retirees a chance to broaden their minds
for as little as £10 a term.
-Before their time in Chengdu comes to an end,
four new students are going back to class.
Don't look in there, you'll get told off, come on.
Here we are, dance room.
You only stop learning if there's something wrong with you.
If you can learn something,
one thing a day, you live a long while, they say.
So that's what I'm trying to do.
KNOCKING ON DOOR
-Hello. Nice to see you.
-How are you?
Thank you for speaking English.
Is this the first time you've come to this school?
Yes. It is.
We want to know what goes on here.
This school is especially for the elder people.
It is for the elder people.
From what age?
The students range from 50 to 78.
So could we join into some of your classes while we're here?
Of course. I think our students will be very happy to see you.
-Lead the way.
-Thank you very much.
With over 20 courses on offer,
there's something to suit every pensioner.
Hao ma. Hao ma.
-Ni hao ma.
Rosemary and Wayne have decided to join a traditional singing class.
THEY ATTEMPT TO SING IN MANDARIN
-# Ni... #
-Na, na. Na, na, na.
-OK. Good. WAYNE REPEATS PHRASING
So, first word...
-Not very sharp?
I'm going down the road.
-I'm going down the road.
Miriam and Bobby have opted to take a seat
in the university's English class.
In China, the emphasis on teaching English began in 1979,
after the end of the Cultural Revolution.
Today, it's a compulsory subject in every Chinese school.
SHE CONTINUES IN MANDARIN
Can you teach the students how to greet each other
when they first meet?
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
First, when you meet someone, I would say, how do you do?
-How do you do?
-How do you do?
-We'll do it again.
-How do you do?
-How do you do?
Bobby would say something different.
To a man I would say "hello".
And to a woman I'd say "hell-oh"!
-Because he's flirting.
Have you got Bobby's style?
-Have a try.
Yes, very good.
We do it first. Then you do it.
# When I was just a little girl/guy I asked my mummy what will I be?
# Will I be handsome? Will I be rich?
# Here's what she said to me
# Que sera, sera
# Whatever will be, will be
# The future's not ours to see
# Que sera, sera
# What will be, will be. #
-You should teach us something, maybe...
-What do you want to know?
-Where is the toilet?
Very important for us.
Of course. In Chinese...
Xishoujian zai na.
MIRIAM REPEATS WORD
MIRIAM HAS BETTER PHRASING
I think the concept of university for older people
is absolutely wonderful. Because you don't stop...
..wanting to learn when you're older.
Do you like Chengdu?
Do we like Chengdu?
We did not know anything about Chengdu before we came.
Now we know, and we like it.
I think for a long time China was a closed country.
Now it isn't, and they want to get out there and talk to people
and see what the world offers.
-Did you have a good time?
-I'm supposed to have learned how to say,
"Where's the toilet?"
-But I can't do it.
-You can't do it?
My look, very elegant.
You do look very elegant.
It's the group's final evening in Chengdu.
Oh, that's beautiful.
-Is that all right?
-Very nice indeed.
To mark the end of their time in the city...
..they've decided to dress up for a night out.
You changed into a Chinese!
That looks really nice, Bobby.
-We've got to go.
-See you later.
-I'll come with you.
-I'll come with you.
Don't we look typical Chinese now?
The group are making the short journey to central Chengdu
to one of the city's popular hotpot restaurants.
Look at this!
Is Miriam all right?
Wonderful, look at that.
A favourite with locals, diners get to cook their own food
while enjoying some traditional Sichuan entertainment.
-It's a beautiful place.
-It's terrific, isn't it?
Look at that.
I don't like that oil.
I don't think I'm going to be eating a huge amount of this.
-This is really interesting.
-It's interesting, yeah.
Oh, thank you.
Could I have a beer, please? Beer?
China has been challenging
on so many different levels.
Number one, the language has to be up there, number one.
How do we know what we want?
Such hard, hard work.
But in saying that, I think there's a lot we can learn from China.
Because they do respect elders here.
And we have had some very, very, very good food indeed.
OK, guys, I'll warn you, it's really hot.
That is too hot for me.
Look, she's started.
-Look, water coming out.
I didn't know anything about Chengdu before we came.
I'd never heard of it, actually.
China as a nation is straddling its history
with the new and the old.
Everything that you see around you is new - newly built, newly minted.
But there are still the footprints of the old world here,
and I hope they never leave it.
I love that. May I have a bit of this?
Here's another one, look. I wonder what this is.
What I've learned about China and the old people here
is that it's never too late.
People sort of brainwash you into thinking it's all over at 69,
70 years old.
-My goodness me!
-And all these people are going to the old university and
learning to sing, dance, and learn English.
I mean, the show goes on.
They are really polite, the people.
-Very good, thank you.
And they do things together.
They seem happy.
But do you know what?
The tea over here is absolutely...
-How do you do? Nice to meet you.
You like kids, don't you?
-Well, I don't like children much.
-I know that!
I like kids.
-They like you.
-I used to go to school with them! Did you know that?
And the trouble is, they like me too.
Home, and don't spare the horses!
I think we've had a lovely time but I just need a bit of time on my own.
I'm never on my own because I've got kids.
Next time, Miriam, Wayne and Bobby are joined
by familiar Marigold face Jan Leeming...
..as they sample a Communist retirement in Cuba.
No way was I going to go somewhere in Cuba with a man I didn't know.
-You must be joking.
-Oh, I would!
After exploring what it is like to grow old in India, Miriam Margolyes, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager and Bobby George reunite for another global adventure. This time they sample retirement in China.
The group stay in the capital of the Sichuan Province, Chengdu. A bustling city of over 14 million people, all the group find the language barrier difficult, and Miriam in particular struggles with the regional cuisine. A swim in a high-tech pool, in one of the world's biggest buildings, makes a bad situation worse as Miriam discovers a modern China at odds with her memory of it from a trip 30 years ago.
After experiencing city life, the group opt for an overnight stay in a country retreat. A ride on a high-speed bullet train takes them high into the mountains surrounding the city. Home to the giant panda, a feeding session at a local sanctuary leads to an emotional moment for Miriam, while Rosemary can't quite understand what all the fuss is about.
Back in Chengdu, a final night at the Sichuan opera gives the group an opportunity to reflect on their bewildering and dazzling time in China.