The "Third Age" series comprised 10 programmes transmitted between October 21st and December 23rd 1993, on BBC2 at 2.00pm on Thursdays. The series succeeded others for I older viewers, such as "Prime Time", but was to be of a very different character, both in terms of its "message" and format. The BBC also produced a free magazine to accompany the series, with financial support from the European Commission as part of the European I Year of the Elderly and Solidarity between the generations. The title, "The Third Age', refers to that time of life after a person's main career or job has finished and children have left home and before the "Fourth Age", the time of increasing frailty, dependence and finally, death. Broadly speaking this is the years between ages 50 and 75, which now accounts for about 13 million people in Britain. Unlike the common social images of old age, the vast majority of these people are fit, active and independent. The research had two objectives. Firstly, information has been provided on reactions to the programme, in terms of likes and dislikes, viewing preferences and behaviours and attitudes towards the programmes. However, a second and more fundamental aim has been to assess whether the series has had an impact on the attitudes and behaviour of its target audience. Did the underlying message of the programme - to make the most out of life in the later years -get translated into new ways of thinking about later life and the uptake of new activities, hobbies and interests? This question was approached in two ways: (1) by asking viewers whether the programmes had influenced them; and (2) by independently monitoring changes in attitudes and behaviour.
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