7 Up

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  • 1984
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7 Up is a documentary series that follows the lives of 14 British children from age 7 onwards. The show aired on ITV in 1984 and is a landmark in British television history. The children featured in the show were from different social and economic backgrounds, representing a cross-section of British society in the early 1960s.

The series began with a one-off program called "Seven Up!" where the children were interviewed about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations. The show aimed to capture a snapshot of British society in the 1960s and how social class, education, and upbringing could determine the course of a person's life. It was an unprecedented project, and the documentary made for a compelling viewing.

The format of the show was simple. Every seven years, the filmmakers would follow up with the same group of children, now adults, to see how their lives had progressed. The second installment of the series aired in 1970 and was called "7 Plus Seven." The third installment, called "21 Up," aired in 1977, and subsequent installments aired every seven years, with the most recent being "63 Up" in 2019.

Through the years, the show has become a cultural phenomenon in Britain, and it has been praised for its unflinching honesty and raw portrayal of British life. It is a unique document of social history and a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit.

As the series progresses, viewers get to see how life plays out for the children as they grow up, get married, start families, and pursue their careers. Some of the children's lives take unexpected turns, while others follow the paths that were projected for them early on.

One of the most memorable stories from the series is that of Tony. When viewers first meet him at age seven, he is a precocious, charming and confident child living in a crowded housing estate in London's East End. However, as the series progresses, Tony's life takes a turn for the worse, and he becomes embroiled in poverty and addiction.

Throughout the series, the filmmakers show the children's progression through life and how their social class and upbringing affected their prospects. Some of the children featured in the series come from privileged backgrounds and have access to the best education money can buy. Others, like Tony, face a more uncertain future.

Over the course of the series, different themes emerge, such as social mobility, love, marriage, and family life. The filmmakers ask the same questions to the participants as they did when they were seven years old to get an understanding of how their worldview has changed.

The show has been instrumental in sparking debates about social inequality in the UK and has inspired numerous international spin-offs, such as the "Up" series in the United States and "Shine A Light" in Australia.

To conclude, "7 Up" is an essential piece of British television history. It is a unique and powerful document of social history that captures the essence of British life in the 1960s and beyond. The series has become a staple of British popular culture, and it remains as relevant and moving today as it was when it first aired in 1984.