BBC brings back Up for 28Up
James R | On 14, Sep 2021
The BBC is bringing back the landmark documentary series Up for another instalment.
The generation-spanning show, directed by Michael Apted, began in 1964 and followed the lives of the same group of people, checking in every seven years – a process that continued all the way to 63 Up in 2019. (You can read our piece looking back at the original documentary here.)
In 1999, with Michael’s blessing, it was decided that the project should start again, and a new generation of children was cast for the successor to his series – who would all turn seven in the year 2000. 7Up 2000 was first broadcast in 2000, followed by 14 Up 2000 in 2007 and 21 Up New Generation in 2014.
From director Julian Farino (Giri/Haji) and produced by Melanie Archer (Race For The White House), 28Up Millennium Generation is the fourth in the series of films which has been following a group of seven year-olds from all over the UK since 2000, charting their lives every seven years. They’ve now reached the age of 28. Over 20 years in the making, and made by the same production team throughout, the films are ultimately a celebration of the magic of ordinary lives, and a hopeful and optimistic account of what it means to be a British millennial.
The children were chosen from as far apart as Cornwall, the Inner Hebrides, Liverpool, London, and beyond, and came from a hugely diverse range of backgrounds. Together they painted a unique and personal portrait of Britain at the turn of the millennium.
At seven, they were asked about love, about God, about money and about their families. At 14 they were preoccupied by the challenges of teenage life. And at 21 we found young adults anxious about finding jobs, looking for relationships and establishing their independence as they approached the end of full-time study.
This time around, we meet our 28 year-olds in 2021, amid a lot of uncertainty about their futures. But between them they’ve found fame, started new careers, and fallen in love – as well as dealing with serious mental health issues, the pain of bereavement and broken dreams. Of our contributors, only a quarter have been able to afford their own home and only one is married and has children.
The overriding theme of 28Up is that they have become more comfortable in themselves, and less apologetic about their opinions and choices, or as one puts it, “got better and better at being me”. Most of all, the films allow us to witness the hopes, expectations, disappointments and joy of everyday life as we all experience it – and as a result, make us reflect on our own lives.
Director Julian Farino says: “I have worked extensively in drama but there is something uniquely special about filming the 7Up series over these last 21 years. To befriend and watch people grow up on film is extraordinary and is an absolute privilege.
“What I love about the 7Up series is that it celebrates the lives of ordinary people. It shows that every life has its challenges and dramas, and it is incredible to see both continuity and change in personality. It makes it impossible not to reflect on one’s own life.”
BBC documentaries Commissioning Editor Emma Loach says: “We are thrilled to announce that the celebrated Up series will be returning to BBC One later this month with 28Up Millennium Generation. Seven years on from the last instalment, our fully matured protagonists now find themselves catapulted into adult life, and having to adapt to a sharply competitive world, increased responsibilities and fresh challenges brought on by a global pandemic.”
The two-part docuseries will air on BBC One this autumn.