The Greynaissance is upon us, and silver foxes are calling the shots

I think I have a crush on Sir John Major. There, I've said it. It's unexpected, to say the least.

At 73, he's basically old enough to be my grandfather (if I'd been the product of two generations of teenage parenthood, admittedly, but you get the idea).

I also have a crush on Hillary Clinton, who, at 68, is en route to becoming the second-oldest president of the United States. And my favourite YouTubers are not the beauty experts who've written memoirs before they've hit puberty, but the silver-surfers in their sixties and seventies who are the new vlogging superstars, attracting millions of online hits for their make-up and health tips for the older generation.

Grey power

Call it a Greynaissance. In this youth-obsessed digital culture of Instagram feeds and Snapchat videos, we are hankering after something less ephemeral. We want hard-won experience and the wisdom that comes from having lived a little. We want someone who knows more about what they're doing and cares less about what others think of them. In short, we want age. We want grey power.

Which brings me back to Sir John, the former British prime minister. 

In his forties, he appeared prematurely elderly; now he has finally grown into his looks.

He's not conventionally attractive. His hair is grey, the frontal sweep of it set in a semi-permanent crinkle across his brow. His side-parting is as precise and straight as a judiciously placed Zimmer frame leg. When he speaks, only his lips move. At certain angles, he looks like a Lego figurine manufactured by socially conscious designers to raise awareness of retirees.

As prime minister, he was derided as boring and uninspired. He was regularly portrayed as a colourless individual who enjoyed nothing more than a meal of peas. Since leaving office, however, he has come into his own. These days, Sir John appears statesmanlike: eloquent but clear-sighted. In his forties, he appeared prematurely elderly; now he has finally grown into his looks.

Grey area

But his Greynaissance is only one of many. Recently, there have been several examples of people regaining credibility later in life. The producers of The X Factor have announced they are bringing back Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh for the next series. Both of them are 63, which means the 2016 judging panel will have a combined age of 219.

Matt LeBlanc faced years in the acting wilderness after playing Joey in Friends, but was then resurrected in the public affection by his excellent cameo in the sitcom Episodes. Now he has one of the most sought-after jobs in broadcasting as a Top Gear presenter. It was as if, when LeBlanc's hair turned grey, we found it easier to take him seriously.


Meanwhile, the Stone Roses released their first single for more than two decades last month and it went straight to No 1 in the iTunes chart.

Seasoned players

In an age obsessed with looks and meaningless soundbites, it is refreshing to see these seasoned players take centre stage once more.

At a time when all MPs appear to have gone to the Tony Blair School of Dynamic Hand Gesturing, and most of them spend more time avoiding questions than answering them, Sir John is now at liberty to say what he believes. The freedom suits him. He has gravitas and, dare I say it, even charisma.

It's an extraordinary transformation. Honestly, grey has never been so red hot.

Scroll through the gallery above to see 18 stars who have got better with age. 

The Daily Telegraph, London