You may or may not know to what this post’s title refers. If you do, then you will be aware that it relates to the longest running TV documentary on British television.
Age nearly fourteen, I can remember watching a programme called 14 Up. I was the same age as the subjects and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was the second in a series that would revisit those same people every seven years throughout their lives. The first had been aired seven years earlier in 1964 and was called 7 Up. The initial episode was intended as a one-off and was concerned with a group of seven year olds drawn from across the British class system to observe the similarities and differences in their attitudes and aspirations. So lauded was it that a follow up seven years later was commissioned to look at how those same children had developed. The original ‘Reality TV’ show, it became a seven-yearly event, the premise by then to see whether the premise of, “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man, ” held true.
Who would have thought that several decades on, the Up series would still have a significant following of viewers who, like me, have watched every update. Conceived by a young man called Michael Apted, now an award winning researcher, documentary and film director in his seventies, it has been a marvellous piece of social history, and fascinating to see how the character’s (though these are not actors but real people so it is perhaps unfair to refer to them as such) personalities, values and beliefs have either remained true to their younger selves or have developed and changed. Apted has been the interviewer in every programme.
Now sixty three years old, the programme’s subjects look back on marriages, divorces, families, successes, failures and careers and reflect on their lives. Flashbacks to previous recordings show how they have changed, and importantly, how they have remained the same. There has been illness, sadness and loss too. Last night we saw footage of Lynn who has sadly died since 56 Up was filmed, whilst another member of the series is terminally ill. What I have found interesting each time it has been shown is how much of the previous series is familiar, and how much I remember about the people involved.
Over the past two evenings I have watched 63 Up with the final episode later tonight and as ever, the programmes this time have received glowing reviews. I look forward to 70 Up.
And because I haven’t a suitable picture for this post, here is me at seven years old! My son has just referred to my hair here as ‘Lego hair’ and he is absolutely right! Goodness knows why my mother used to get it cut like this. I so desperately wanted long hair but was told it was “too much trouble.” My daughter ended up with the long hair I wanted. I never let her have it cut!