Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds (Vibe, 7.30pm Sundays)
There must be 100 reasons why you shouldn't let a group of 4-year-olds anywhere near a retirement village. Won't they just get under the feet of the elderly? What if one of them has been radicalised by the YouTube conspiracy algorithm and starts yammering on about how World War II never actually happened?
On the other side of the coin, there are some good reasons why you should let the two groups mix, at least in the controlled environment of a reality-TV experiment. Top of that list is the second series of Old People's Home For 4 Year Olds, a show we can probably all now agree is the most heartwarming television concept ever invented.
Hard to believe they could ever top series one with grumpy old Hamish and the way the children encouraged him to shed his curmudgeonly armour and get into the spirit of things. But this time the elderly participants in the latest series are even older, the kids somehow even cuter and their storylines even more emotionally decimating than before.
The friendship between Lavinia and Phoenix in the first episode, for example. Sad, softly-spoken Lavinia has Parkinson's and gets about the place on a mobility scooter. When the physio tries to get her to practise her walking, she can barely manage a couple of steps. Bright, shy Phoenix has taught himself to read and knows the names of all the train lines in London but, perhaps unsurprisingly, struggles to fit in with the other kids.
When Lavinia notices him on the outer of the group on day one, she wheels over and gives him a picture of a truck. On day two Phoenix arrives with a gift in return: he's spelled out her name on a sheet filled with stickers – just about the most valuable currency in the land for a 4-year-old.
Then the kicker: later in the week Phoenix and the other kids are playing in the playground outside but Lavinia's scooter can't go on the grass. So desperate to be part of the action, she takes to her walking frame – the same walking frame she could only manage a couple of steps with earlier in the week – and begins a slow, determined trek across the grass. Remember the final scene of Homeward Bound, when Shadow came limping back across the meadow? It's just like that but real life.
Scenes like this also seem to prove the show's central hypothesis, which is that spending time together will result in positive health outcomes for the elderly participants as well as enriching the lives of the youngsters. Both of these things seem obvious but a group of aged care experts and bow-tied early childhood boffins are on hand anyway to explain the experiment and lend the series an air of scientific legitimacy.
Mostly, though, Old People's Home For 4 Year Olds exists so that we can have our collective hearts warmed and/or enjoy some big, gulping sobs on the couch. The second series delivers both in absolute spades.