The Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, has begun traveling on television again. McCoy is one of the stars in the new BBC Two travel documentary series, The Real Marigold Hotel. Inspired by the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the show assembled an eclectic cast of older British entertainers and brought them to Jaipur, India, to see if life there would suit them in their golden years. The cast lives in a haveli, an Indian mansion, as they learn about the culture and each other. The show is like Celebrity Big Brother, but with less drama and more talk about flush toilets.
McCoy is a delightful presence on the show, as funny and eccentric as he was playing the Doctor. He is up for adventures, such as joking at the airport, pulling faces during yoga, and preparing to meet local royals. At the beginning of the documentary, McCoy explains why he is heading to Jaipur: “I am a gypsy, continually traveling, and I’m not sure if I’m running away from something or running after something. I think it might be after something, and after a place where I can finally lay my head.” After 42 episodes in the TARDIS, it is an interesting conundrum.
Since his days on Doctor Who until he and Ace walked off into the unknown, McCoy has been active. He continues to play the Seventh Doctor in audio for Big Finish Productions, starred in a 2005 Doctor Who audio webcast Death Comes to Time, and acted on stage many times, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2011, McCoy began filming his role as Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit series. A small role in the books, Radagast’s presence looms much larger in the films.
McCoy lives alongside actress Miriam Margolyes, best known these days as Professor Sprout. Margolyes is the scene stealer of the documentary, with a huge personality and a winning sense of humor. Her blunt talk about the non-flushing toilets is amusing, and her bawdy humour is good fun. Dancer Wayne Sleep reveals a cancer diagnosis and seems to find real comfort in the calming rituals of yoga and namaste that the group practices. The other residents are warm and likable: former Catchphrase host Roy Walker, chef Rosemary Shrager, darts champion Bobby George, singer Patti Boulaye and retired news reader Jan Leeming.