RIP Michael Apted (Seven-Up)
I was fearing this day....
Dang, a couple of weeks back when I looked up the Up series, I read how he hoped to do 84 Up when he was 99. Ain't gonna happen now...share
Someone else could easily continue it. I don't think many of the people are still participating anyway.share
Most have been participating. The documentary guy, the rebellious but intelligent long-haired guy stopped at 21.. The library mobile lady died. And the one guy who got shit for ripping on Thatcher only came on one show to promote his band.share
He's not the black guy who sat in the big white wicker chair and said "the UNcola."
What do 7UP and nuns have in common?
I bet it seemed like a good idea at the time but having watched them ( 7 Up ) every seven years I was mainly struck by how bog ordinary they showed people's lives to be. The best one was the first because it showed a bunch of lively and entertaining seven year olds full of promise. Each subsequent instalment showed them getting ground down into ever smaller pieces by the great meat grinder of life.
Most people just live a normal life, I don't know if he purposely chose people who had limited potential for various reasons in the hope he would make that point.share
I read somewhere that the original idea was to "expose" how unfair society was by contrasting the lives of upper class, middle class and lower class children and to see how they fared as they grew up and got older.
The assumption was that the upper class children would do very well, the middle class children would do quite well and the lower class children would do less well by comparison.
But so many of them dropped out that the show was left with a pretty small sample. But by and large the original assumption was confirmed which was no surprise to anyone I imagine.
The only surprise to me was that regardless of class all of their lives were pretty humdrum. Although the real misery was mostly reserved for the lower class ones in a few cases. One of the upper class boys had a pretty unhappy life psychologically it seemed to me although he did cheer up a little as he went along. And at least he was materially comfortable.
It was disappointing that several of them dropped out, but it was still very interesting to follow the lives of those who remained with the series. I also saw it as confirmation that life doesn't always turn out the way you expect. I've yet to see the 63 Up episode.share
I just looked it up and there were only fourteen children to begin with and not as many dropped out as I thought, at least according to Wikipedia. I only watch the newest episode when it comes out and very occasionally I have rewatched the seven years old one. The rest I find too dispiriting.
I was bowled over by the change in Neil who had been one of the brightest boys at seven. By fourteen I barely recognized him so great was the transformation. From being happy, outspoken and self assured he had turned into an introspective, nervous boy who was constantly questioning everything.
Subsequent episodes showed that he was clearly suffering from a mental illness and was doing it tough. And yet Michael Apted really used to stick it to him every time as though Neil was just being a malingerer who needed " To pull himself together and snap out of it ! " Apted went down in my estimation because of it.
Yes, Apted should have shown more compassion for Neal. He, like many other people, does not recognize or understand that someone suffering from mental illness can not "just snap out of it." As tough as Neil's life has been, I'm amazed he accomplished as much as he did, such as winning a seat on a local council.share
Not many people manage to breakaway from their upbringing and social class. The wealthier kids would have been under pressure to go to prep schools and become lawyers etc The poor kids would have been just hoping to get jobs. They all would have gotten married and had kids because that was expected of them.
As you say pretty humdrum lives regardless. It's not like he managed to discover a young David Bowie or some other kid who went onto something extraordinary which then begs the What If question, if he did would the documentary derail them in some way?
Who knows ? I guess if participating in the show was becoming a problem they would just drop out of it, as some of them did.
I'm thinking about how fun it might have been if he found some 7 year old who was a little odd and 7 years later we find out they are more formed in the extreme opinions than next installment they are second in charge of a cult lol.
There was one girl who was on the series who was very upfront about how pointless the whole series was and I do agree with her. The vast majority of people just want to live their lives, sometimes struggling through it and what appears to be ordinary can be monumental achievements to the person themselves.
That was the upper class Suzy. She was quite a dissatisfied girl at fourteen it seemed to me and that had advanced to being an outright unhappy girl at twenty one.
Then at twenty eight she was married ( maybe even with a child or two I think ) and she was transformed. Smiling away she said she had her husband to thank for the change in her and that she had even given up smoking. And then her husband chimed in to say that he had taken up smoking, which made me laugh out loud.
I think that's the primary charm of the show. It's just a document of some peoples lives. It's quite fascinating to see how full of hope and ambition most of them were during their youth, only to be beaten down by about their 30s to the point they just settle for their lot in life.
The updates are certainly not as interesting from their 40s onwards (and I imagine future eps will also be equally as uneventful). However, I hope the series continues for as long as possible, even without Apted.
A shame. Rest in Peace, Mr Apted. 🌹share