Blackadder star Sir Tony Robinson has complained that older people have been “incarcerated” and “forgotten” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The actor and presenter, 73, said “the Captain Tom Moores of this country… are getting the worst deal”.
He is supporting Age UK’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal, to raise £10 million to help the charity meet demand for its services.
Sir Tony said the situation in care homes was “absolutely shocking” and that if there was a similar death rate in any “any other part of the population this would be a huge national scandal”.
Our Advice Line has seen a huge increase in calls amidst the pandemic, peaking at an 88% increase in demand.— Age UK (@age_uk) April 23, 2020
We're aiming to raise Â£10 million so we can continue to provide vital information, advice and services for older during this difficult time: https://t.co/jY8LCU9thW 💜 pic.twitter.com/9co3PAxXUF
The star, known for his role as hapless Baldrick in Blackadder, told the PA news agency: “I got a bit cross last week that everybody was getting so emotional and excited about Captain Tom Moore and yet ignoring the fact that it’s the Captain Tom Moores of this country who are getting the worst deal because of coronavirus.
“The older people were the first people who were told they had to stay indoors, many of them are incredibly isolated and lonely.
“A lot of them aren’t online and wouldn’t know what to do with being online if they were, and are stuck at home, often without any support at all,” he said. “It’s like we’ve forgotten all about them.”
Citing Boris Johnson’s speech in Downing Street in which the Prime Minister asked people to “contain your impatience”, Sir Tony said: “Older people won’t lose patience. By and large they’re very responsible and very stoical. It’s more we don’t want them to lose hope.”
The former Time Team presenter said: “I’d like to see the same kind of focus that there is on children on older people.”
He called for donations to Age UK’s appeal, to help fund its helpline and friendship calls as well as helping its local network on the ground delivering frontline services such as food packages and prescriptions.
The star said: “We talk about the Second World War. The Second World War veterans who are still alive, who prevented the Germans from invading Britain, are the ones who are now being incarcerated and they’re the ones who spent 60 years of their tax money paying for the NHS and they’re completely ignored.”
Older people have been treated like “third class citizens” by the Government, he said.
“Coronavirus has really brought out the disparity that there is between the elderly and the rest of society. It’s the kind of blindness that people used to have about women and women’s pay, about slavery, about child labour.”
Making sure that we are all eating and drinking enough is more important than ever. 🍎— Age UK (@age_uk) April 28, 2020
If you support an older person, the @MalnutritionTF has worked with a range of organisations and professionals to create this resource hub: https://t.co/jq2nMBAjiC pic.twitter.com/Qi0OQw2K5m
The star’s work has been put on hold but he said rehoming a dog from the RSPCA days before lockdown had helped him.
“About three days before they said that the over-70s were going to stay indoors, my wife and I decided to adopt a dog. We hadn’t had one for about three years,” he said.
“My final journey before lockdown was to drive to Derby and pick up this Westie who’s absolutely gorgeous and had a terrible life and is the centre of our lockdown.
“She’s allowed to be a kid instead of fighting for her life. She’s flowered. She’s blossomed amazingly quickly.”
Age UK said its national advice line has seen a 88% increase in demand, while the Silver Line has experienced an increase in calls from older people who are anxious, depressed and in need of reassurance and friendship.
Sir Tony is also supporting Age UK’s neighbourly initiative by encouraging people to keep in touch with older relatives, friends and neighbours and help out if they can. All information is at www.ageuk.org.uk/coronaappeal