Amanda Barrie and Paul Nicholas join all-star cast at The Real Marigold in India for a second series of the travel documentary series early in 2017 and there will be a two-part Christmas special

The hit travel documentary series The Real Marigold Hotel is returning with an all-star cast in 2017 and will move to BBC1.

The new cast of famous senior citizens embarking on a journey of a lifetime include former Corrie star Amanda Barrie, EastEnders’ Paul Nicholas, presenter Bill Oddie, entertainer Lionel Blair, Doctor Miriam Stoppard, TV personality Rustie Lee, snooker champion Dennis Taylor and singer Sheila Ferguson.

Inspired by, but otherwise unrelated to the blockbuster film, the series documents the authentic experience of eight characters in their golden years as they head to India to see if they would consider retiring to the other side of the world.

The new four-part series will see the group travel thousands of miles from home and this time land in Kochi, a city in the southwest Indian state Kerala, to test whether they can set up a more rewarding retirement than in the UK.

Meanwhile, this year’s series will be revisited on BBC2 in a two-part Christmas special, with original cast members Miriam Margolyes, dancer Wayne Sleep, darts champion Bobby George and chef Rosemary Shrager testing different retirement communities around the world, travelling to Florida and Japan.

The first series premiered on BBC2 earlier this year and (so far) is the highest rating factual series on the channel in 2016, with a series consolidated average of 4.1million viewers, and was awarded a prestigious Rose d’Or Award.

Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content, says: “The first series was a big hit that connected with viewers of all ages in a really authentic and heart-warming way. 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.”

“Who would have thought that a show about retirement would become such a hit with audiences young and old?,” added Patrick Holland, Channel Editor BBC2. I wish the next wonderful group of senior travellers every success in their new home.”