People over 70 have “disappeared” in British culture, no longer asked their opinions or represented properly on television, the author Richard Osman has said.
Osman, whose bestselling novels star four elderly detectives, said he was “so proud” that their success put older people back into the mainstream of the arts.
Saying that generation was full of “clever, brilliant” people that are now “invisible” to the world, he said the public’s habit of continually underestimating them made them the perfect heroes for a crime novel.
Osman’s latest novel, The Man Who Died Twice, is a sequel to his The Thursday Murder Club, an international best-seller starring four senior citizens using their time in a retirement home to fight crime.
‘Brilliant’, ‘clever’ people
The characters, he told BBC Radio 2 on Saturday, were inspired by his mother’s friends in a similar retirement community “full of such brilliant people, such clever people, but people who are now invisible to the world”.
“As soon as you put those things together you think these people are so smart, know every trick in the book, have played every trick in the book, but they’re underestimated,” he said. “You think: who better to be a detective?”
He was particularly inspired, he joked, by “being around those people and hearing the laughs and seeing them all drinking at 11.30 in the morning”.
“They’re enjoying themselves but they’ve disappeared in culture,” he said of the over-70s.
“They’re not asked their opinions, we don’t see them on TV. It’s lovely that this book has shown we want heroes of any age.
“And they’re so brilliant to write about because anyone over 70 has such a great attitude to the world. You’ve got a bit of perspective, and you know a little bit about the world.”
Novels ‘most successful thing I’ve ever done’
Osman, a broadcaster most famous for shows including Pointless and House of Games, said the novels are the “most successful thing I’ve ever done”.
“I’m so proud of it,” he said. “A book where the four heroes are detectives in their 70s with unlikely friendships, going on new adventures, is a lovely thing to have out there in the middle of culture.”