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RIP Michael Apted - director of the Seven-Up documentary series

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  • RIP Michael Apted - director of the Seven-Up documentary series

    Michael Apted, the TV director of many documentaries including the Seven-Up series has died at the age of 79 - not a multiple of seven. His main niche was as a result of being famous for starting the documentary series where 14 youngsters were monitored every seven years from the age of seven and saw them become adults as they got older. No doubt that Apted's death would mean that the series, (in which the final update was in 2019), would sadly come to an end. Apted did say that he would continue with the project for as long as he was still alive - he was only 15 years older than his subjects were. Sadly, at least one of the subjects in the series has since passed away anyway, while a couple of other original 1963 participants declined to be interviewed for future editions.

    "Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man", to quote Aristotle, which inspired the series in 1963, in which some would regard as a spin-off of the current affairs series World in Action which also began around the same time. Cur a group of schoolchildren playing in a playground during monochrome film footage which became colour film seven years later and teenage versions of their predecessors took part for the TV cameras. Thankfully, despite the name of the original documentary having the same name as a lime and lemon soft drink, Apted had no problem using it for his work. A new Seven-Up series was started in 2000 as an inspiration of the original series, and so therefore an update would have been due in 2021.

    Most of the Seven-Up documentaries were shown on ITV within the World in Action strand, although the 42-Up series in 1998, (the year that World in Action was axed incidentally in favour for lightweight current affairs series Tonight with Trevor McDonald - a huge change in direction for the changing ITV and what it was to become today), was actually shown on the BBC, still made by Granada. In hindsight, one would consider the series as a huge part of British television history, and in many respects, groundbreaking - comparisons have been made with Professor Robert Winston's Child of Our Time for example which started in 2000.

    I often used to confuse his name with Michael Aspel - did anyone else do that? Nevertheless, it does feel like the end of the era and that the "Up" series will probably come to an end now. I thank him for his long service to television documentary making.

    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  • #2
    I have been enjoying the 7 up series for longer than i care to remember, shame if it were to end. Apted also directed the bond film The world is not enough
    Ejector seat?...your jokin!

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    • #3
      Sad news, I remember watching some of the Up programmes at school & tried to keep up since then, but didn't get round to seeing the last ones made.

      I hope someone can continue the series as it's been a very good chronicle of life over the time they have been made.

      Didn't Channel 4 make one about children born in 1982 with some follow-ups?
      The Trickster On The Roof

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      • #4
        Sadly, I think that Apted's death will mean the end of the project - also, the fact that series that took an interest Apted's work such as World in Action are no longer around. Can you imagine that ITV Tonight series on Thursday evenings continuing the series?

        The problem is that things have socially and cultrally moved on since the days of grainy Granada film documentaries of the 1970s and 1980s, and the Up series have only lived on because Apted had still been around to continue with it - I fear now that it will die with him. The next installment would have been in 2026 I believe, but I don't think it will happen now.
        Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Richard1978 View Post
          Didn't Channel 4 make one about children born in 1982 with some follow-ups?
          Yes, Citizen 2000 was what it was called. Channel 4 recognised the fact that anyone born in the same year that the channel first went on the air in 1982 would become 18 year of age (and therefore would become an adult) by the year 2000. I believe that it was another project which was abandoned, possibly because the production company that originally made it no longer existed in later years. Incidentally, the subjects in Apted's Up series were born in 1956, the same year that Granada TV first went on the air.

          Around the turn of the millennium, ITV did a documentary called Many Happy Returns based on a similar concept, but being modern ITV, I believe that was abandoned or at least forgotten about anyway.

          Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by George 1978 View Post

            Yes, Citizen 2000 was what it was called. Channel 4 recognised the fact that anyone born in the same year that the channel first went on the air in 1982 would become 18 year of age (and therefore would become an adult) by the year 2000. I believe that it was another project which was abandoned, possibly because the production company that originally made it no longer existed in later years. Incidentally, the subjects in Apted's Up series were born in 1956, the same year that Granada TV first went on the air.

            Around the turn of the millennium, ITV did a documentary called Many Happy Returns based on a similar concept, but being modern ITV, I believe that was abandoned or at least forgotten about anyway.
            OK I thought that might be the case.
            The Trickster On The Roof

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            • #7
              Great tribute to the man on Radio 4's Last Word.
              Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

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