Once begun as a singular look into how class systems affected British children in 1964, director Michael Apted's “Up” series has instead grown into a pleasantly surprising portrait of aging and diversity, insomuch as it remains a wonder to consistently see a new chapter pop up. Consider it a shock then, because 48 years after “7 Up” first aired on television, a new installment checking in on its diverse group of subjects is set to air this month.
Movieline reports “56 Up,” to be shown in three parts starting May 14th, will catch up with the same collection of 14 Britons, ten male and four women, initially chosen for the first film. From a Liverpudlian man going from intelligent schoolboy into destitute drifter, to a women going through divorce, single motherhood, and arthritis, the series cuts a wide swath. It never aims to gain a clear answer, but only to show clear snapshots of complex lives instead. Although a producer left and some participants have occasionally skipped the seven-year updates, all have appeared on camera since then to let viewers into their unique lives. Readers of “Harry Potter” grew wistful at the idea of growing up with those characters -- imagine the effect the “Up” series must continue to have for dedicated followers.
Apted, who was only 23 when he worked on “7 Up” as a researcher before helming the rest, remains committed to the project, even as feature film projects like the third 'Chronicles of Narnia' and “The World is Not Enough” keep him based in Los Angeles. "This is the most original of the things I've done, and it's also frameworked my career.” Apted revealed in a Guardian interview. “It was the first job I had and it's likely to be the last. It has been tremendously influential in my life and I feel it's unique. I don't think anyone will ever do this sort of thing again."
The previous “Up” chapters are all available on DVD now, and while “56 Up” will be broadcast on ITV in the U.K., a U.S. airing followed by home video release should happen soon.