factual ent: Trading Ages

Trading Ages

This programme is part of the BBC’s summer 2004 The Time of Your Life season devoted to challenging perspectives and attitudes to growing older. Prosthetic makeup was used to give two individuals ‘a unique insight into life as an elderly person in twenty-first century Britain’ in a follow-up to Trading Races which took four people across ethnic boundaries.

Twenty-nine year-old Karoline Bell agreed to be transformed into an elderly woman for four weeks. Amongst other things the ‘aged’ Karoline found herself at Butlins on a short-break pensioners’ holiday, helped out in a charity shop, tried to survive on an old-age pension budget, and got to see how her younger boyfriend reacted to how she might look one day for-real.

The makeup

Karoline’s makeup, by Stevie Bettles, consisted of a bald-cap, five interlocking foam gelatine
pieces, old-age stipple, contact lenses (which simulated not just the the appearance but the effects of cataracts), wig, and false teeth.

The makeup process, together with notes by Stevie on ‘the challenge of creating hyper-real makeups that could survive close examination in natural lighting’ and simultaneously work on television, is shown on a separate page.

Stevie had previously done a similarly challenging and, if anything even more extensive, makeup transforming TV personality Carol Smillie into a man for another less serious reality TV programme Gender Swap.