Michael Apted and his Granada “Seven Up” programme returns to ITV1 

2 April 2004 tbs.pm/642

Pioneering socially experimental documentary strand begun on World in Action spearheads ITV’s 50th Anniversary

J. Nigel Pickard, ITV’s Director of Programmes has brought Granada’s mammoth documentary project, back to ITV1 in time

for its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2005. Film director Apted, started out as a researcher at the Manchester based regional ITV company, on the topical weekly World In Action series. He came up with a novel social experiment of putting a mixed group of seven year old boys and girls from various backgrounds together, in such child-centred locations, as the more traditional zoo and in an adventure playground, itself a new concept.

His first efforts were screened in 1964 as a half hour strand in World In Action, and later programmes, (featuring many of the same children), as stand alone documentaries, were screened to huge audiences and acclaim, when they were 14, 21, 28, and 35. By the time the remaining original children, willing to continue association with the project were 42, the winds of change afoot in ITV, gave the the BBC, (already accustomed to buying in Granda’s ex ITV shows, What The Paper’s Say and University Challenge), an opportunity to commission 42 Up, which they screened in 1998.

The UK version being screened the world over, interest arose in varients of Seven Up. Later films were commisioned from Granada by the BBC with Russian, US and South-African children similarly filmed at 7 and again at 14. In both these projects, the films were made against a backdrop of major social changes going on, especially with the break up of the Russian communist empire, and the ending of apartheid in South Africa, and the emerging black rule under the presidency of Nelson Mandela.

In initially selecting seven year olds, Apted was following a concept of St Ignatious of Loyola, who said, “giveth unto me a child when he is seven and I shalt make him into a man”! A number of the original children filmed in 1964 have agreed to return for 49 Up, though one ex film subject Charles Furneaux, now Channel 4 factual programmes chief, is unlikely to take part this time around. Apted has personally worked on each of the films from the very beginning, his often trusting relationships with the films subjects, has been a deciding factor for their continued association with the project. However, alongside Furneaux, a number of others may not participate this time.

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2 responses to this article

Ronnie MB 21 November 2011 at 10:43 pm

It would be about time for 56 Up if there is going to be one.

Does anyone know if there is?

Russ J Graham 22 November 2011 at 3:58 pm

In an interview on ComingSoon.net dated December 2010, Apted said “Yeah, I’m gonna shoot it about, at the moment it’s September of next year, and I’ve got broadcast dates already, for God’s sake – the 13th, 14th and 15th of May 2012. So I’ve got a job there, so yes, I am thinking about it.”

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