The Up Series DVD Cover
The Up Series is a long-running documentary series that profiles 14 different British people at various stages of their lives, starting with age seven and revisiting them every seven years thereafter. The first episode in the series, titled Seven Up
, showed in 1964 and was directed by Paul Almond. Michael Apted, who also directed Gorillas in the Mist and Coal Miner’s Daughter, worked on this first installment, and he took over directing duties for the following ones, which include Seven Plus Seven
, 14 Up
, 21 Up
, 28 Up
, 35 Up
, 42 Up
, 49 Up
, and the forthcoming 56 Up
. The premise of the series lies in the saying, “Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.” Each episode revisits the original 14 children throughout their lives and interviews them about how their lives and changed in the interim. The children, now adults, came from from both upper class and working-class backgrounds. They went on to varying lives of both successes and failures, with one becoming a barrister, one being homeless for a while, one becoming a nuclear physicist, and several becoming spouses, divorced, and parents. They all have the option of participating in subsequent installments, but only one of the entire group has appeared in all of them. This series premise has inspired similar projects in South Africa, the United States, and Japan. The long-running nature of the series makes for an interesting look into how these people’s lives have changed, how they represent the experiences of a particular generation, and how the documentary series has impacted them in different ways.
This series is available for purchase through First Run Features. British film scholar Stella Bruzzi wrote Seven Up, a brief book that takes a critical look at the series.