Dispatches – Too Old To Work Review: When SAGA Attacks

February 9, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

DISPATCHES – TOO OLD TO WORK, Channel 4, Monday 9th February, 8pm Alert Me

Black albino disabled midgets should count themselves lucky, because according to Dispatches, age discrimination is the number one form of discrimination within the UK (9 out of 10 employers recommend it). With the country’s employment figure recently hitting 2 million, Channel 4’s docu-boffins have decided to investigate who’s next on the P45 chopping board.

Let’s just say that SAGA should start planning for the worse.

Dispatches conducts some genuinely interesting research here, probing the oft-overlooked legislation that gives employers credence to legally sack employees on the stroke of their 65th birthday. Or rather the increased chances of a stroke on their 65th birthday.

Watching the whole gamut of personal reactions, ranging from fiery indignant righteousness to emotionally downtrodden resignation, is genuinely upsetting. It’s like walking in to see your own Nan crying, and you do feel like just getting them a nice cup of tea, a biscuit or a doily to knit.

But that’s part of the problem – whether you realize it or not, all of us have an in-built stigma towards the elderly that takes considerable conscious effort to snap out of.

A significant library of surveyed data supports the otherwise obvious suggestion that employers are purposely offloading OAPs despite their extensive experience and relatively coherent compus mendus, and so Dispatches forces a befuddled trio to undergo a number of serious scientific tests (you can tell they’re serious because of the funny coloured stickers and wires) to prove that age really has no bearing on ability.

The thing is, you can’t help but hear Jarvis Cocker’s now eponymous ‘Help the Aged’ lyrics (“Help they aged/one time they were just like you/drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue?). Now far be it from me to suggest all these Hyacinth Bucket-a-like’s are likely to suffer the delayed physiological ravages of a misspent Hippy youth anytime soon, but it’s frustrating that employers aren’t given the chance to voice their own concerns and reasons for offloading their elderly workers.

Great documentaries are those that offer two sides to the story, but here we’re given the impression that OAP’s are veritable MENSA-level Olympians of astonishing prowess. Tests that pit overweight 38 year olds against impressively fit 60 olds are not really fair.

Stick one of the oldies in front of an Apple Mac Design Suite and then show us the results.

Matt Risley

Pat Craig says:

Didn’t see the programme but have been discriminated against because of my age. At 60 I was considered ‘not dynamic emough’ for an Interim Management role at a very senior level. Funny because until they saw me I was in with a good chance. Even funnier then that the interviewer fell asleep a couple of times during the interview! Cost them dear tho because I successful won my Age Discrimination case and they had to compensate me.

Oh and by the way at 63 I am highly computer literate and age, either young or old, is not a problem to me. I will continue to fight age prejudice. I’m not dead yet and still have a contribution to make.