Waiting for God
|Waiting for God is a show about the fictional Bayview Retirement Home in Bournemouth, England. The two main characters, Diana Trent and Tom Ballard, have a grand old time not being docile oldsters, and consistently make gleeful fun of the crooked manager, Harvey Bains, as well as generally inciting the other “inmates” of Bayview to action.
At its core, Waiting for God is a show about “not going gentle into that good night,” as Dylan Thomas put it. It's about not letting age get in the way of living, in any sense, and both Diana and Tom don't let their numeric age get in the way of anything!
Bayview Residents and Their Families
- Diana Trent
- Sarah, her niece
- Baby Diana, Sarah's daughter
- Sarah, her niece
- Tom Ballard
- Geoffrey Ballard, his son
- Marion Ballard, Geoffrey's wife
- Basil Makepeace
- Harvey Bains, manager
- Jane Edwards, assistant
- Jenny, waitress and kitchen maid
- Antonio, gardener
- Mr. Kwok, cook
- Inger, fitness specialist (only for a little while, lol)
- Rev. Dennis Sparrow
- Sister Sheila
- Jamie Edwards, Jane's grandfather
- Dr. Henry
Major Character Descriptions
Diana Trent: Former photojournalist, now an elderly feminist extraordinaire, with a slew of fabulous snarky comments and fiery dialogue to be fired at anyone who deserves it
Tom Ballard: Former accountant, now a seasoned world-traveler and time-traveler--but all in his mind; usually peaceful but sometimes moved to be grandly heroic
Harvey Bains: Egotistic manager of Bayview, and as crooked as they come financially; a social climber who always manages to fall (hilariously) from his vain heights
Jane Edwards: Quiet, timid, almost mousy assistant to Harvey (and the true smarts and power behind his “throne”); loves Harvey desperately (and inexplicably), and will do just about anything for him
Geoffrey Ballard (Tom's son): Cheese and yogurt quality checker; seems boring and bland, yet interested in the weirdest and most banal things (like pine shelving)...until he lets himself go a bit.
Marion Ballard, Geoffrey's wife: A definite pill and alcohol addict, will sleep with anything that moves, hates Diana with a passion, and is desperately lonely underneath it all.
Show Dynamics (Spoilers)
At the beginning of the show, Diana is withdrawn and bitter, more angry-snarky than funny-snarky, if that makes any sense. Rooming beside Tom, who is delightfully dotty (yet more in touch with reality than he seems) slowly draws her out of herself, and by the end of the show, they are a team, a pair who balance each other, both playmates and fellow crusaders (as well as lovers).
Harvey's relationship to the residents and staff goes from being completely unenlightened and indifferent to deliberately malicious and yet vulnerable. At the last, he seems to realize how universally hated and ineffective he's been...hinting that perhaps all the previous seasons' bravado has been an elaborate facade.
Jane dramatically transforms over the show's run, becoming more self-assured and confident with every season, until the last few episodes, when Harvey FINALLY proposes marriage and she turns him DOWN! (The two do get hitched in the last episode, but they are both much changed; Harvey has been taken down a few pegs, and Jane is finally liberated from her self-imposed prison of pleasing others and forgetting herself.)
Geoffrey changes so much in the last season--he literally takes on an alter-ego, a Hell's Angel named “Fatboy Higgins.” At first, the “Fatboy” persona is just to give Marion a sexual thrill so that she won't run around on him so much...but then, it seems, Geoffrey seems to like the newfound freedom and rough behavior he's allowed as “Fatboy,” and proceeds to live as the alter ego for a little while. While he does eventually go back to himself, he, like Jane, seems to have been freed from the boring and mild prison of his own devising.
The show really revolves around the three major couples in the show (Tom & Diana, Harvey & Jane, and Geoffrey & Marion), and their various antics. However, many important points about aging and treating the aged with proper respect are made--so much so that the actress who plays Diana, Stephanie Cole, has kind of become a real-life crusader for elderly’s rights!
How to Think of the Elderly, According to This Show
Waiting for God challenges many of the subtle age prejudices society holds against the elderly. Too often, we think of "old people" as being boring, helpless, or mere annoyances to their younger relatives. By contrast, we see Tom, Diana, and their Bayview friends living a new sort of "life to the fullest"--certainly puts my day-to-day habits to shame!
For instance, Waiting for God shows us that older folks can still be involved in all facets of human life; fun, games, and even eroticism are not beyond them just because they've reached a "certain age." (Basil most famously and hilariously depicts that.) They also can still have their skills, paired now with a lifetime of experience at using said skills (Diana's a great example of that). But, above all, they are worth spending quality time with, and deserve human dignity and respect, which is something Diana crusades for in various ways throughout the show's run.
This is one reason I love this show--it's funny and awesomely written, with lots of gags and jokes, but it also shows us how important it is to treat our elderly well. After all, they've been at this "life" game longer and can teach us quite a few tricks! (At least, if you watch Diana and Tom's hijinks! :D)
What We Can Learn from Marion
Wait, we can LEARN from Marion? Actually, yes. Though Marion is a trying and often insufferable character on the show, she's a cautionary tale in character form. She's living a non-life, doped up to the gills as she is most of the time, and her thrills mainly involve inciting Diana into anger or annoying her husband Geoffrey to death. Why would someone take so many pills or want all these passing thrills, unless she were trying to escape her normal life?
To me, Marion is trying everything she can to either spice up the life she has or to numb the pain it brings her. Yet she's alienating the people who would be nearest to help her, and trying to spice things up by more illegal and immoral means. It's easy to fall into the same trap of isolation, to spiral down and down until you feel like you can't scramble out of it anymore.
So, we can learn from her, indeed. We can learn that letting other people in (i.e., including Geoffrey in her life instead of locking him out) and not doping ourselves into a stupor can go a long way toward healing and getting better. Marion is well on her way to healing by the end of the show for just those reasons!
LinksWaiting for God @ ClassicTelly.com
Waiting for God Fansite Waiting for God @ TVTropes.org