Real Marigold Hotel back next year with Lionel Blair and Amanda Barrie

Entertainer Lionel Blair and actress Amanda Barrie are among a new crop of stars embarking on the journey of a lifetime when travel documentary series The Real Marigold Hotel returns.

The hit series - inspired by the 2011 film starring Dame Judi Dench - will be back in 2017, but will move to BBC1 from its original home on BBC2.

The new cast also includes snooker champion Dennis Taylor, television personality Rustie Lee, Doctor Miriam Stoppard, presenter Bill Oddie, singer Sheila Ferguson and actor Paul Nicholas.

Amanda Barrie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Amanda Barrie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The programme follows eight senior citizens as they head to India to see if they would consider retiring to the other side of the world.

The new four-part run will see the group travel to Kochi, a city in the south-west Indian state Kerala, to test whether they can set up a more rewarding retirement than in the UK.

The programme debuted on BBC2 in January 2016 and saw eight celebrities including actress Miriam Margolyes and dancer Wayne Sleep living together in Jaipur for a month.

It was the highest-rating factual series on the channel this year, with a series consolidated average of 4.1 million, and was awarded a prestigious Rose d'Or Award.

Sylvester McCoy, Bobby George, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager, Miriam Margolyes, Jan Leeming, Roy Walker, Patti Boulaye in The Real Marigold Hotel
Sylvester McCoy, Bobby George, Wayne Sleep, Rosemary Shrager, Miriam Margolyes, Jan Leeming, Roy Walker and Patti Boulaye in The Real Marigold Hotel (Vinod Singh/Twofour)

Charlotte Moore, director of BBC content, said it was "the perfect fit" for BBC1.

She added: "It celebrates a big universal subject that we all care about and I'm looking forward to watching our new cast of characters explore India and reach an ever broader audience on BBC1."

Patrick Holland, BBC2 channel editor, said the move means BBC2 has the space to commission new series such as Second Chance Summer and Life And Death In A Week.

"I wish the next wonderful group of senior travellers every success in their new home," he said.

BBC2 has also confirmed a two-part Christmas special for 2016, which has a working title of The Real Marigold On Tour.

It will see four of the original cast members - Miriam, Wayne, darts champion Bobby George and chef Rosemary Shrager - test out different retirement communities around the world, travelling to Florida and Japan.

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