Granada Television in 1964 broadcast "Seven Up". The premise of the program was that a person's character was set at age 7. The producers interviewed 14 London 7-years olds at age 7. The children included both boys and girls from a range of social backgrounds. The interviews in themselves were fascinating. The children were ernest and honest. There was none of the humor associated with Art Linkletter or Bill Cosby's interviews of children. These interviews were very serious. All the boys wore short pants and kneesocks, including three very proper boys in a prep or pre-prep school. It was only later that Granada conceived of following up on the children every 7 years to test the premise.
"We've brought these children together because we wanted a glimpse of England in the year 2000." This was the introduction to Granada's (British TV network) aclaimed documentary series World In Action, filmed in 1963 and titled "Seven Up". Granada Television in 1964 broadcast "Seven Up". it was produced by British filmmaker Michael Apted. It was only later that Granada conceived of following up on the children every 7 years to test the premise. The first rebroadcast was called "7 Plus 7". Granada has since revisited the subjects every seven years. The series is certainly one of the most remarable documentaries of 1960s television. It was an original idea a very well executed.
The premise of the program was that a person's character was set at age 7. The producer used as a premise the Jesuit theory, "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man." The producers interviewed 14 London 7-years olds at age 7. The subsequent interviews allow us to watch the children grow up before our eyes. It is fascinating to see what each of the children do with their lives. The producer looked at the lives of 14 children in 1963. The children were all 7 year olds.
Initially the program was to be a single show with the 7 year olds. Only later did the idea develop of following the lives of the children every 7 years into adulthood. We first meet them at age 7. And then Granada looked them up every 7 years. The participants had various ideas about continuing to participate.
Boys and girls from a broad spectrum of backgrounds were selected and included children from a range of class, gender and ethnic backgrounds. There were 10 boys and four girls. I'm not sure why they chose more boys. One boy was of West Indian extraction. Another boy was orphaned. The thrre most interesting were three boys at a posh pre-prep schools. They described how it was important to keep the poor children out of their school. One of the boys described how he read the Times. Their prigish attitudes affected how they viewed the program and participation in it at the 7-year updates. They explained in great detail how they planned to go on to different schools, their lives all carefully planned out. This contrasted so sharply from the children that came fom less affluent circumstances.
The interviews in themselves were fascinating. The children were ernest and honest. There was none of the humor associated with Art Linkletter or Bill Cosby's interviews of children. These interviews were very serious. By the first reinterviews at age 14, the young teenagers are already much more circumspect. Eventually some of the individuals decide not to participate. The prep-school boys in particular are reluctant, realizing how they appeared as 7-years old. They then asked the children a series of thoughtful questions about who they were, what they liked, what they thought of the world around them and most significantly, what there future would be like. The children's responses at age 7 were fascinating and in many cases painfully honest. At that age there was no artiface or effort to hide just what was own their minds. There was no effort to get humerous respnses from the children as with Art Linkletter. The interviewers, who we never see, and the children are very serious.
A particularly memorable trio was interviewed at a private schoolThree of the children are interviewed at their prep (or pre-prep school) in their school uniforms. John, Andrew and Charles, could not appear more posh and snobbish. "I read the Observer and the Times" 7-year old John informs us in a posh accent and then carefully describes his precise path through England's elite private education system. The boys also explain how it is important to keep all the poor children out of their school. I'm not sure where those ideas came from, the school or their parents. Those and other comments proved so embarassing in later years that most of this lot were even embarassed as 14-year olds and didn't want to appear on the series as adults. In many ways their attitudes as they got older were more telling than as 7-years old. At that age they were just parroting ideas that they had picked up from the school or their parents. As they got older they became defensive and evasive. I think that the public would accepted a honest explanation simply saying, yes that was how we thought then, but we and the rest of Britain have moved on. But we never got that from those three.
All the boys wore hort pants and kneesocks, including three very proper boys in a prep or pre-prep school. When the children were re-interviewed again at age 14 in 1971 they were all wearing long trousers.
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