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TV documentarist and director Michael Apted dies at 79

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British director Michael Apted has died aged 79. His death was confirmed by the Hollywood Reporter the evening of Friday the 9th of January. Further details about his death have not been released.

The director is probably best known for his work on Seven Up!. Starting in 1964, the docu-series interviewed a group of people every 7 years from the age of 7, the most recent update being 63 Up! released in 2019. It was groundbreaking in its use of longitudinal documentary and to this day remains one of the best records of life in Britain throughout the years.

The first installment was inspired by the Jesuit motto “Give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man”. It was intended to look at how class systems shape children from such a young age.

Credit:Hotdocs.ca

The difference in class is clear between the participants in every aspect. In one clip private school trio Andrew, Charles and John discuss their plans to attend Oxford. It’s contrasted by Paul, a young boy who lived in a children’s home, asking the interviewer what university means.

As they grew up the audience got closer to the interviewees and became invested in their lives. Hearts broke in 28 Up! when it was shown that Neil was homeless in the highlands and everyone all watched in shock when Jackie confronted Apted for his sexist lines of questioning in 49 Up!.

Although it was originally indented to be a stand-alone episode, it gained so much popularity that they continued to make them. The series has won a number of awards including a Peabody award for Apted himself.

Apted also directed films such as seven-time Oscar-nominated film Coal Miner’s Daughter and Piers Brosnan’s third Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

Celebrities tweeted their respects for the director including band Garbage and composer David G Arnold. Participants from the Up! series such as Tony, a fan favourite from the early years of the show, also shared their condolences.

Feature image credit: Entertainment Weekly

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