BBC’s 7Up documentary project followed a group of Englishmen and women since 1964 when they were still 7 years old. 56Up is its eighth edition and it shows the subjects reach the half century mark. It is full of touching human experiences with some bittersweet feelings.
If you’re a fan of the series then this is a good time to reintroduced yourself to the subjects and see how they have changed or remained the same. The documentary features their spouses, children and grandchildren. They are filmed at work and play.
Paul, Bruce and Andrew are content with their middle class or well-off domesticity. John is a barrister. Sue shares that she is now struggling with her finances. Peter, who opted out of after 28Up, is now back as a mellow musician.
Nick and Suzy ponder how being on the show made them stars by just being themselves. Neil has been the lost soup since the star and once dreamed of Oxford. He was seen suffering from tough times in 28Up and 35Up. He wants to be a person of importance and at 56, he is now a local politician in his small Northern England community. But he is still tortured by his connection to a show that showed his painful life. He confronts director Michael Apted and shows his annoyance at what the show has and hasn’t created. Then it shows his need for connection, which is moving.
It also features Symon, who is raised in a children’s home in the late 1950s. Then there’s Lynn, who loses her job as a librarian. Lastly, there’s Tony the cab driver. They have endured heartbreak but their small achievements are great in their own ways.
56Up shows that life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. It reminds the viewers that every age can predict the next one.