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Stars: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins, Michael Gambon, Andrew Sachs, Trevor Peacock, Sheridan Smith

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Several of Britain's older luvvies get a chance to exercise their considerable talents in this gentle lark - the first directed by Dustin Hoffman - about life in a very comfortable home for retired singers and musicians.

As we join them, the leading lights, under the directorship of self-described genius Cedric (Gambon), are preparing for their annual gala, the proceeds from which will, they hope, enable the home to keep going for another year or two.

Enter former diva Jean (Smith), ex-wife of resident Reginald (Courtenay) - for nine hours - who must now be persuaded to join her ex, still roguish Wilf (Connolly) and gaga Cissy (Collins) in a quartet at the gala.

There's not much story to all this, but some relishably cutting lines for Connolly and Maggie Smith keep us amused. 'Your singing brought tears to my ears,' Connolly tells a cracked tenor. 'I saw you in concert. I'll never forget it - but I'll try.'

And Smith has some dialogue that would delight her character in Downton Abbey. Asked by a self-admiring mutton-as-lamb soprano if she remembers a particular performance, Smith offers her a withering glance. 'Yes,' she says, 'my mother told me about it.'

Otherwise, this is the kind of retirement home we all want to go to, with caring staff and a good-humoured doctor, played by Sheridan Smith. The antics there are always mildly entertaining, making comfortable viewing, and could almost lead to the season's most unusual TV series.

David Quinlan

UK 2012. UK Distributor: Momentum. Colour by deluxe.
98 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 27 Dec 2012