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The Up Series Cover 1956 was a year in which many different events happened. For example: (1) Paramount Pictures released their new biblical picture 'The Ten Commandments'. (2) Carl Perkins' song 'Blue Suede Shoes' first entered the music charts. (3) 'Norma Jeane Mortenson' legally changed her name to 'Marilyn Monroe'. Plus (4) It was the same year that the people in this one hour documentary were born in. 1956. Or maybe 1957. Not 2012.

The Up Series

In 1964 the British current affairs program 'World In Action', begun to document the lives of twelve children born seven years previously. Since then, however, for every seven years hence, these people lives have been continuously captured by this show, preserving their growth over the course of their lifetime. They're 56 now. And this instalment of '56 up' explains what they are currently up to.

What now follows is a break-down of four of these twelve participants.

At a young age, London girl, Sue, wanted to see some life before she got married, had kids, and settled down. She didn't. Not really. She got married in her mid-twenties. She had two kids in her late twenties. She got divorced when she was in her thirties. And for quite some time she was as a hard working single parent mother until she eventually met her current partner, Glen, in her forties.

Today, though, Sue has a very nice life. She is a head administrator at a University, and is still very close with her children. Moreover, she is also a member of an amateur dramatics society, and takes part in shows and functions associated with her hobby and her vocation.

Although Paul was estranged from his parents at a very early age, he still managed to move over to Australia and settled down with a very nice lady called Susan.

Now after a period of travelling the Australian outback, whilst working as a labourer, Paul eventually bought his own house and had a family of his own. Today he is a proud Grandfather who works as a 'handy man' with his loving wife in a 'Retirement Village' nearby.

Neil was born in Surrey and had a chance to go to University. But regrettably, due to a mental condition he contracted, he traveled around the United Kingdom quite a lot over the preceding years.

He squatted in London at 21. He was homeless in Scotland at 28. He was living in a council estate at 35. He was a Liberal Democrat councillor for Hackney at 42. And currently he is living on his own in a small village in Cumbria, acting as 'lay reader' and as a 'borough councillor'.

Like his school friend Neil before him, Peter also had political aspirations of his own. Also, he wanted to be a school teacher too. Which he did. For a short while. Until he fell out of love with this profession, as well as this series also.

Currently Peter is musician in a band called 'The Good Intentions', with a wife, Gaby, two children, and living a relatively creative and logical life, whilst working in the Civil Service.

To be continued...

This is it. This is the documentary that made me fall in love with documentary film-making. OK, I have to admit, not this particular instalment of '56 up'. Oh no. Most probably a previous incarnation of this series. '42 up' or something. Mainly because I was just so intrigued by the concept behind this program, I felt the urge within me to follow it whenever I popped up.

Well, could you just imagine what it must be like to have your life chronicled in this manner? With certain things you have said and done in the past repeatedly coming back to haunt you every seven years or so?

Personally speaking, I like to think of this 'captured record' as a form of strange and alternate family album, where you and the general public can see your younger self say one thing and your current self say something else. I suppose it just goes to show that people change over time, and that no matter how much you presume things will turn out one way, at the end of the day you can never really tell. Right?

The Cast of the Up Series

Take Neil for example. Just by the way he speaks and what he has done in his life, you can see that he is a very cleaver man with a very chivalrous attitude. But I don't think that a young Neil could have ever guessed what a diverse and solitary lifestyle he would have had, huh?

For that matter I can say the same thing about Paul. He was a in a care-home when this program started, and now he is an Australian handy-man in a retirement village with five grand children under his belt. Or what about Peter? From wannabe politician to wannabe musician! Or even Sue? From single parent mother to head administer in a University!

To quote Jimmy Greaves 'Life is a funny old game'.

Neil - Then and Now

But is this what we should take away from this instalment of '56 up'? Life is a game? Or should we look deeper within ourselves, and gauge that life is not always what we would hope it would be.

In a reflective way this program is like a mirror beaming back at the viewer, showing us that we can never tell where fate will take us or those around us. Also, on another level, is does present a message that time is a very tangible entity which moulds with styles, temperament, and society.

Nothing is ever the same. People change with the times. Concepts live forever. And I cannot wait for the next installment of this show to come out next week.  

Viva La 'World in Action'. And Viva La Sue, Paul, Neil, and John.

56 UP - PART ONE 56 UP - PART ONE Reviewed by David Andrews on May 16, 2012 Rating: 5
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