This returning two-part documentary for ITV hits the road with some of Britain’s oldest drivers to discover why and how they still get behind the wheel.
The first episode features some of the most ambitious centenarian drivers yet, such as Harry Kartz, 102, who is determined to stay on the road despite the fact he can barely hear. He says: “The brain’s alright. The body… I’m not too good walking. I don’t think [hearing]is that important - better to have good eyesight.”
Meanwhile, Alan Higgins, 92, undertakes an epic journey. He wants to track down a girl he met 75 years ago during the war. He sets off with granddaughter Clara to Russia, through crowded cities and across frozen wilderness, facing the perils of the most dangerous roads in Europe, insisting he drive despite her reservations. He says: “Well, I don’t know, I hope I’ll be able to drive up there. When I drove from Barry to here, I was the only car on the road, driving through all the hardened snow and what have you… Snow is snow.”
Jock Stares, 100, has had a lifelong love affair with motorcycles - and still goes out on his scooter every day. He bombs around the Gower Peninsula in Wales, visiting care homes to play classic piano tunes for what he describes as ‘the old folk,’ despite the fact most are younger than he is. He says: “I’ve always fallen in love with being on two wheels, it’s the next best thing to being able to fly. Because you go through the cool air effortlessly. It’s like a drug really, you become addicted to it.”
Thrill-seeking 95-year-old ex-commando Tom Lackey can’t drive since he had a stroke and has to use a scooter, but now gets his kicks by taking to the air - wing-walking. He says: “I do feel very trapped, I do feel contained. It does make me feel like an old man when I’m in the scooter.
“I suppose anything you do up in the air especially standing on top of an aeroplane, you’re taking a risk, but I appreciate that, and I suppose that’s part of the fun. The challenges are breathing properly and putting up with the air pressure against you.. The ladies will never need a facelift when they’ve had a wing walk, because you won’t have a crease left in your face.”
Back down on earth is 99-year-old Mary Ellis, who flew Spitfires in the Second World War before turning her hand to rally-driving. She’s on a quest to track down her beloved Allard K1 rally car, and says: “Well, everything at 99 is that much slower. But only a teeny weeny bit.
“I can never ever forget the Allard, which was a soulmate, because it becomes part of [you]. I have missed it, I’ve missed it terribly. I still miss it and I do wish it was here. It would mean an awful lot if I could drive it again before I die because it would bring back so many lovely memories.”
In the second episode, romance is in the air as we follow 98-year-old Joseph Batty-Peirson playing the dating game. He’s still got an eye for the ladies, and says: “When the twinkle goes out of my eye for the ladies, I shall turn up my toes and die.”
He wants to find a wealthy widow, and his internet dating profile sparks some interest. But Joseph has lied about his age, hoping to pass himself off as 83. Will he get away with it and find true love?
There are some familiar faces from previous series, including love-birds Ken and Edna Medlock, who have a combined age of 200. Last year, Edna was forced to move into a care home 200 miles from Ken, but has now returned and is determined to stay - especially as the pair are driving out for a date on their 76th wedding anniversary. Edna says: “I wanted to get back to Ken as I worried about him a bit - he was on his own up here. It’s much better being back here with Ken, because I can shout at him now.”
In Ireland, 102-year-old Michael O’Connor uses his car to get to the shops and isn’t planning to give up his keys just yet. He says: “I would live driving, I would sleep driving, I would eat driving. I love driving.”
Our other drivers face challenges. 104 year-old Eileen Ash loves to go out and about in her little yellow mini, but for the first time in her life has been prevented from doing so by sciatica. Desperate to regain her independence she is following a rigorous physio and exercise regime to get fit again. She says: “I realise now how difficult it is for people, their legs go, their knees go, they can’t do this and they must be terribly frustrated, You don’t feel that you’re living, you feel that the end is coming.”
Paul Freedman’s son Martin is worried because his 91-year-old dad’s car is covered in dents and scrapes. Paul says: “When you’re driving, you are your own governor, it’s nice to be independent and I don’t think I’ve got any driving bad habits at all.”
So concerned is Martin that now Paul must prove he’s safe to stay on the road, or have the keys taken off him. Martin says: “I’ve had a look at dad’s car and I’m a little bit concerned about the scrapes and the dents that he has on there. If you ask him, he would probably say everyone else did it and it’s amazing how many people knock into his car.”
And 96-year-old British pensioner Charles Eugster drives through heavy snow in Switzerland and puts himself through a punishing training regime to pass the mandatory Swiss physical examination for drivers over 70, done every two years. He says: “I did meet a physician who said that people over 90 shouldn’t be on the road, just like that. He only allowed me to pass the examination, how shall I put it, through gritted teeth.”