Up Series – A Documentary Worth Watching

I don’t get much time to watch TV these days, but have been finding time to watch The Up Series which is a longitudinal documentary that follows the lives of a collection of kids from various parts of England and different socio-economic starting points.  It picks up every 7 years to interview them all as they age, starting with the first episode filmed in 1963 when they were all 7 years old. The most recent update was from 2012 when they were 56.

In our own lives we rarely get to see lives in this light which resigns us to make educated guesses as to what behaviours lead to success and what personality traits are worth cultivating in ourselves or our children.  As a 20 year old it’s hard to know what the 40, 60, and 80 year olds were like as kids to draw some conclusions about ourselves or our friends.  We generally only gain this perspective when our school friends hit these age milestones and give us the ability to compare what we remember of them as kids to where they are now.  It’s a long time to wait for this valuable insight.

It’s interesting that both the film maker and myself were drawn to incorrect forecasts of many of the participants as there were some surprises about where they eventually end up in later films. You may also find that it challenges your pre-conceptions too.

In addition it’s interesting to see the settings at the time. The school system in the 60’s and 70’s in England is dramatically different from what I experienced in the 80’s and 90’s in Canada. The discussion about unions that came up in the 80’s updates were interesting to map with what I know of the Thatcher era.

Seems worth a watch.