Second Chance Summer: It’s Middle Class Big Brother

Programme Name: Second Chance Summer: Tuscany - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (b

Programme Name: Second Chance Summer: Tuscany - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (back to front, left to right) Altaf Majeed, Karen Walker, Rob Seddon, Andy Desmond, Lesley Collins, Robert Dent, Chi E, Tracy Williams, Gill Hall, Gavin Patterson - (C) Two Four - Photographer: Alex Bryant - Credit: BBC/Two Four/Alex Bryant

Second Chance Summer: Tuscany sent 10 strangers aged from 38 to 58 for two months to La Bandiaccia, a Tuscan paradise and 250-acre estate complete with an olive farm, vineyard, B&B, star-studded violet skies and neighbours who are either stunningly attractive, ludicrously wise or both.

As my husband said, you could watch this show on mute and actually improve the experience of watching it (although you'd miss the lyrical Italian being spoken by everyone other than the visitors, only one of whom has even a basic grasp of the language) – the scenery is gorgeous and the wise neighbours are subtitled. It's like an interactive calendar of inspirational quotes.

The participants all have a cross to bear, whether it's divorce, death or a desperately boring job – as 38-year-old wine expert Rob put it: 'everyone is a broken toy.'

They share a common dream, that they still have time to reinvent their lives and they'd rather do it in Tuscany than in Telford.

The majority also share some really annoying traits: they moan about working and who is working harder than other people, they burst into tears about being homesick after just three days and they complain about people enjoying themselves while they're trying to get some sleep. Yawn. Literally.


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Andy, 54, signed up after a lifetime working for the police as a murder, torture, kidnapping and anti-slavery detective (imagine writing that on a mortgage form): 'investigating, rescuing people, saving lives,' he says in the same tone I'd talk about cleaning the toilet and taking out the recycling.

He's the first to sign up for an actual job at the farm, policing the fence that keeps out the wild boar who are partial on fermenting the grapes on the estate themselves: in their hoggy bellies. Somewhat surprisingly for a man used to dealing with Isis, he's quite fearful of a 'mummy pig and her babies'.

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Rob is passionate about wine – so am I, but in a different way that doesn't involve having to harvest a zillion grape vines in 48-hours while trying to shepherd a group of lazy, inefficient sunburnt Brits with chips on their shoulders. He has been put in charge of the harvest due to his 'expertise' ('hang on a second, I worked in a wine shop…' he points out).

Karen, 54, hates her empty nest, Gill, 50, is living the dream that she and her husband shared until his untimely death a few months previously, Chi, 47, is a creative designer who chivvies Gill when she feels homesick after 72 hours and claims there is 'animal stuff' on her bedroom floor, tech entrepreneur Robert, 46, wants to be a 'wellness guru' and I'm trying not to let that affect how I feel about him and Altaf, 44, has tattoos and a most excellent beard and is a Reiki master which doesn't mean he's good with a rake. Although he might be.

Gavin, 55, is as hard-working as Andy and has a dog that endearingly wees all over the would-be wellness guru's bedroom, Tracy, 50, is unfulfilled and Lesley, 58, wants 'to rediscover Lesley' (SPEAKING IN THE THIRD PERSON KLAXON).

Some of the Brits leave you shaking your head in disbelief: Tracy looks at a gorgeous 18th-century farmhouse and wonders if she should add themed Chinese and African rooms, others suggest playing world music in the outdoor restaurant, two buy 20 chickens and leave with 18 because they forgot to count them. The stand-out stars of the show were the Italians, who have clearly seen their fair share of second-chance saloon Brits coming to Tuscany for a new life: Mamma Livia in particular couldn't resist a guffaw while Carlos noted: 'this idea that getting older means getting wiser is a bit of a cliché, no?'

Dashing Romain was a French farmer who our plucky participants called on to teach them Italian: not for the first time in recent months did I feel the urge to vote Romain in matters European (*inserts inappropriate joke about mastering a foreign tongue*).

But my favourite of all was the gnomic Father Gianni who has a Hallmark card factory's worth of wise sayings: 'Tuscany is a great place to change your life but it all depends what you bring with you or what you are running away from. When you run away, we deceive ourselves that our problems are left behind, but many times we bring our problems with us' and 'the moment we share pain or sadness with each other it becomes lighter' and 'when it's grape harvest time, the feelings that are in the air are of profound

joy, and of course wine in itself brings joy.'

Amen to that last one.

One week in and tensions are running high. Robert has been criticised by Gill for not cooking when he claims he's in Tuscany for the 'field to fork' experience, Gavin has challenged what Chi is 'actually doing', people's grape-picking has been criticised, Ted the dog wees every time he's happy: Brits 0 Tuscany 1.

It's Big Brother kicked through The Real Marigold Hotel (Older Brother?) and, on the evidence of this first episode,

a fairly conclusive suggestion that Brexit isn't all bad news for the Europeans if it means less freedom of movement for whingers.

Second Chance Summer: Tuscany sent 10 strangers aged from 38 to 58 for two months to La Bandiaccia, a Tuscan paradise and 250-acre estate complete with an olive farm, vineyard, B&B, star-studded violet skies and neighbours who are either

stunningly attractive, ludicrously wise or both.

As my husband said, you could watch this show on mute and actually improve the experience of watching it (although you'd miss the lyrical Italian being spoken by everyone other than the visitors, only one of whom has even a basic grasp of the language) – the scenery is gorgeous and the wise neighbours are subtitled.

It's like an interactive calendar of inspirational quotes.

The participants all have a cross to bear, whether it's divorce, death or a desperately boring job – as 38-year-old wine expert Rob put it: 'everyone is a broken toy.'

They share a common dream, that they still have time to reinvent their lives and they'd rather do it in Tuscany than in Telford.

The majority also share some really annoying traits: they moan about working and who is working harder than other people, they burst into tears about being homesick after just three days and they complain about people enjoying themselves while they're trying to get some sleep. Yawn. Literally.

Andy, 54, signed up after a lifetime working for the police as a murder, torture, kidnapping and anti-slavery detective (imagine writing that on a mortgage form): 'investigating, rescuing people, saving lives,' he says in the same tone I'd talk about cleaning the toilet and taking out the recycling.

He's the first to sign up for an actual job at the farm, policing the fence that keeps out the wild boar who are partial on fermenting the grapes on the estate themselves: in their hoggy bellies. Somewhat surprisingly for a man used to dealing with Isis, he's quite fearful of a 'mummy pig and her babies'.

Rob is passionate about wine – so am I, but in a different way that doesn't involve having to harvest a zillion grape vines in 48-hours while trying to shepherd a group of lazy, inefficient sunburnt Brits with chips on their shoulders. He has been put in charge of the harvest due to his 'expertise' ('hang on a second, I worked in a wine shop…' he points out).

Karen, 54, hates her empty nest, Gill, 50, is living the dream that she and her husband shared until his untimely death a few months previously, Chi, 47, is a creative designer who chivvies Gill when she feels homesick after 72 hours and claims there is 'animal stuff' on her bedroom floor, tech entrepreneur Robert, 46, wants to be a 'wellness guru' and I'm trying not to let that affect how I feel about him and Altaf, 44, has tattoos and a most excellent beard and is a Reiki master which doesn't mean he's good with a rake. Although he might be.

Gavin, 55, is as hard-working as Andy and has a dog that endearingly wees all over the would-be wellness guru's bedroom, Tracy, 50, is unfulfilled and Lesley, 58, wants 'to rediscover Lesley' (SPEAKING IN THE THIRD PERSON KLAXON).

Some of the Brits leave you shaking your head in disbelief: Tracy looks at a gorgeous 18th-century farmhouse and wonders if she should add themed Chinese and African rooms, others suggest playing world music in the outdoor restaurant, two buy 20 chickens and leave with 18 because they forgot to count them.

The stand-out stars of the show were the Italians, who have clearly seen their fair share of second-chance saloon Brits coming to Tuscany for a new life: Mamma Livia in particular couldn't resist a guffaw while Carlos noted: 'this idea that getting older means getting wiser is a bit of a cliché, no?'

Dashing Romain was a French farmer who our plucky participants called on to teach them Italian: not for the first time in recent months did I feel the urge to vote Romain in matters European (*inserts inappropriate joke about mastering a foreign tongue*).

But my favourite of all was the gnomic Father Gianni who has a Hallmark card factory's worth of wise sayings: 'Tuscany is a great place to change your life but it all depends what you bring with you or what you are running away from. When you run away, we deceive ourselves that our problems are left behind, but many times we bring our problems with us' and 'the moment we share pain or sadness with each other it becomes lighter' and 'when it's grape harvest time, the feelings that are in the air are of profound

joy, and of course wine in itself brings joy.'

Amen to that last one.

One week in and tensions are running high. Robert has been criticised by Gill for not cooking when he claims he's in Tuscany for the 'field to fork' experience, Gavin has challenged what Chi is 'actually doing', people's grape-picking has been criticised, Ted the dog wees every time he's happy: Brits 0 Tuscany 1.

The stand-out stars of the show were the Italians. Dashing Romain was a French farmer who our plucky participants called on to teach them Italian: not for the first time in recent months did I feel the urge to vote Romain in matters European (*inserts inappropriate joke about mastering a foreign tongue*).

You'll like this Tuscan Big Brother – not Merlot, but you'll like it: the participants prepare to try out a new life. Pictured: back row, from left: Karen Walker, Rob Seddon, Andy Desmond, Altaf Majeed (on tractor), Lesley Collins, Robert Dent; sitting, from left: Chi E, Tracy Williams, Gill Hall, Gavin Patterson. Picture: Two Four/Alex Bryant

It's middle-class Big Brother

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