There is a TV show that I’ve been watching since 1970. Every episode is new, but includes footage from previous episodes.
In 1964, when the first episode aired it was called “7 Up.” It’s a documentary. Subsequent episodes have been released every seven years, so the next episode was titled, “14 Up” and aired in 1970.
The show focuses on fourteen seven year old children who had agreed to be interviewed once every seven years for the rest of their lives.
I had completely forgotten about the project until about two weeks ago. When I googled it, I found that it was streaming on Britbox.
The episode I watched last night was filmed in 2019 and was called, “63 Up.”
It’s a sociological study of children, taken from a large swath of society in Great Britain. Some of the children were from families from high society. Some were from the working class and two were children whom they had found in a home for boys who’s parents couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them.
The main idea was posed in the beginning: “Give me a boy til 7 years old and I’ll show you the man.” But of course, there were girls in the study as well. In every episode that question is asked again. And with the previous footage we can see for ourselves how true that statement became. Some of them seemed to prove that aforism.
Of the fourteen, Tony is my favorite. He has always had that “naughty boy” look on his face. At the age of 7 he said he wanted to be jockey and if that didn’t happen, he’d be a taxi driver. He did work with race horses and jockeyed one winner. But it didn’t pan out as a profession so he became a taxi driver. At the age of 63 he had become a property developer and done quite well for himself and his. Family.
At 63, two had died and one removed herself from the project. One had struggled so with mental illness that he had spent most of the years homeless or living in low rent boarding houses. it was obvious that he had not reached his seven year old dreams. I would have thought that this man would have dropped out of the program but he didn’t. Maybe there was recompense for his time and inconvenience.
But, later in life he found Jesus and now works as a lay person in the Anglican Church and has gained much peace in his life.
Almost all of the test subjects married and had children. And most had been divorced.
One was dealing with cancer and didn’t expect to live much longer.
I take a strange kind of pride in having seen all the episodes relatively near their cyclical debuts.
The next episode will be in 2026, when they’ll be 70. I’ll look forward to it. It’ll be like visiting old friends. I imagine that some will have passed and that will be sad.
Maybe, after the last participant has passed, someone will start the cycle over at the beginning and people will be able to delve into the sociological attitudes of the next generation. Maybe they’ll film in America.