Amongst the Christmas specials on offer this year was The Real Marigold Hotel: On Tour. This was the follow up to the very popular The Real Marigold Hotel, a documentary series following eight celebrities as they experienced old age in India. Four of the biggest personalities returned for this special where they explored two more cultures, Florida and Japan.

Japan was a fairly sedate episode, although still interesting. Old age didn’t mean retirement. Many people in their 70’s and above still worked, albeit in less demanding jobs. The government had a scheme to help them to do so. Even those who didn’t work were far from doing nothing. Morning exercise routines were a must, resulting in a population where barely anyone was overweight.

On the downside, it did appear to be a very restrictive culture. Noise was frowned upon, including shouting, laughing and breaking wind. Also, LGBT equality is virtually unheard of, something which surprised Miriam Margolyes and Wayne Sleep. In fact, one of the most touching moments came in Margolyes’ coming out story, where she had to swear to her parents to never sleep with another woman, knowing that she was lying to them.

Florida was a different kettle of fish and covered two different resorts. One retirement community actually seemed quite jolly. People were neighbourly and friendly. The dream was relaxation peppered with a few hobbies. It was interesting that one comparison between the two episodes was the emphasis in being active in your old age, although in America this more self-chosen than in Japan. The only obvious drawback was the lack of high culture, but in a country where consumer choice is everything, someone could choose to retire and lead a life where that was more central if they so wished. I could also discuss gun laws, which to my British eyes seem bizarre, but there is an entire hornet’s nest about this issue so I won’t.

The other retirement community in Palm Beach seemed far less pleasant, even with its higher price tag. Facelifts and Botox were all the rage here, with looking young being a far bigger drive. Some of the people were perfectly lovely, but you never got the sense that this was a neighbourhood like you had at previous one.

Of course, it was possibly divisive because this was filmed in September, just as the election was kicking up into its final, most angry gear. A conversation between Margolyes and Rosemary Shrager and a Clinton supporter resulted in a full-on spat when a Trump supported marched over to offer his views. I will demur from offering my own view, bar that I have learnt never to cross Margolyes, who offers that scarily articulate anger that makes many wilt.

More than anything, this show offered some sage advice about growing old. Stay active as possible, either through work or hobbies. Be polite to your neighbours. Try and embrace change unless it is directly harmful to you. But, most importantly, be prepared for it. As Margolyes said, ‘Someone should pull you aside and tell you what it is like. Because it is shit”.