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49 UP

Year: 2005
USA: First Run Features
Cast: Bruce Balden, Jacqueline Bassett, Symon Basterfield, Andrew Brackfield, John Brisby, Suzanne Dewey, Charles Furneaux, Nicholas Hitchon, Neil Hughes, Lynn Johnson, Paul Kligerman, Susan Sullivan, Tony Walker
Director: Michael Apted
Country: UK
USA: 135 mins
USA Release Date: 6 October 2006 (Limited Release)
US Distributor


49 UP, the latest instalment of Granada’s landmark documentary series, revisits the group of people whose lives have been documented since they were seven, to see where they are now as they approach their half century. The original SEVEN UP was broadcast in 1964 as a one-off WORLD IN ACTION Special featuring children who were selected from different backgrounds and social spheres to talk about their hopes and dreams for the future. As members of the generation who would be running the country by the year 2000, what did they think they would become?

Inspired by WORLD IN ACTION founder Tim Hewat’s passionate interest in both the Jesuit saying “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man” and the rigid class system of 1960s Britain, SEVEN UP set out to discover whether or not the children’s lives were pre-determined by their backgrounds. The result was ground-breaking television " the very first example of a program recording real people living real lives " and the follow-up films have won an array of awards.

Director Michael Apted, who has since moved to Hollywood to direct films including GORKY PARK, THE COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH and GORILLAS IN THE MIST, has returned every seven years to chart the children’s progress through life. Over the past five decades, the series has documented the group as they have become adults and entered middle-age, dealing with everything life has thrown at them in between.

Now the series is back to see how the group has progressed in the last seven years and there are some unexpected changes in store, including one of the original characters who has returned after a 14-year break. In fact, this instalment of the series sees more of the original group taking part than ever before.

Eastender Tony told SEVEN UP about his ambitions to be a jockey. The series followed him as he saw his dream come true and then gave it all up to be a cabbie. In 42 UP he showed viewers around the new home he shared with his wife, Debbie, and their three children " but he confessed to cheating on Debbie and she bravely revealed her decision to stand by her husband. He also talked about his ambitions to break into show business with work as an extra and his appearances in shows like THE BILL. Now, 49 UP will reveal what has happened to Tony and Debbie. The couple have become proud grandparents in the last seven years but has their marriage survived and what has become of Tony’s ambitious acting career?

Public schoolboy Bruce was just seven when he said he wanted to be a missionary so he could work in Africa and “teach people who are not civilised to be, more or less, good.” The film followed Bruce as he graduated from Oxford before going on to teach in Bangladesh. At 35 UP he was not married but confessed that he hoped he soon would be. At 42 UP Bruce revealed he had met a fellow teacher, Penny, while working in London’s East End, and the pair had tied the knot. The couple were seen living in a flat in London and expressed their desire to start a family " 49 UP visits Penny and Bruce to see if their hopes have been realized.

In 42 UP, Sue was living as a single mum with her son and daughter. The series had seen her marry Billy when she was 24 and give up her job to have her two children. By 35 UP the couple had divorced and in 42 UP Sue, who had returned to work, was supporting her family by herself. She spoke about her life and the fulfilment she got from her children. At the end of the film, Sue revealed she had met a new man, but said, “it’s early days yet.” Now 49 UP reveals that Sue and her new man have been together for the last seven years. The couple share a home and Sue explains how happy Glen has made her life.

In 42 UP Jackie was living with her three boys in a council flat near Glasgow. The series has followed her through her marriage, in her early twenties, and her divorce by the age of 35. In 35 UP she revealed she had a son who was the result of a brief relationship she had after her divorce. By 42 UP she had two more children but was no longer with their father. In 49 UP, the film visits Jackie and her sons at her home in Scotland. She is still living on her own, surviving on benefits and suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis. She talks about her love for Scotland and says that the community she lives in reminds her of the East End when she was growing up.

In 42 UP Suzy revealed that she had problems getting along with one of her three children. She spoke about the difficulties in her own childhood and said she hoped to give her children a more stable upbringing than she had. Will Suzy be getting on better with her children now?

49 UP also will meet up with the rest of the group including Paul, who lived in a children’s home as a 7 year-old, emigrated to Australia with his family in his early teens and now has a wife and children of his own. Paul talks proudly of his daughter, Katy, who has become the first member of his family to go to university. Paul’s wife, Sue, also talks about the last seven years and reveals how her change of career has meant a new lease of life for her " but a backward step for Paul.

Simon, who lived in the same children’s home as Paul as a child, is back with a touching update on his life. In 42 UP Simon had a new wife, Vienetta, and a 4 year-old son, Daniel, but his children from his first marriage refused to see him. Have things got any better for Simon? Are he and Vienetta still together? Do they have any more children?

When farmer’s son Nick was seven he told the series he wanted to learn about the moon but refused to answer any questions about girls. In 14 UP the shy teenager made the same comment. But by 21 UP Nick had met Jackie and in 35 UP the couple had married and were living in the USA, where Nick was a Professor at a University. By 42 UP the couple had a son but Jackie revealed that she missed home. Are the couple still together now? Has Jackie persuaded Nick to move back to Britain?

The series also catches up with Andrew who, in 42 UP, had been happily married to Jane for over 15 years. Andrew was a partner at a firm of solicitors and the couple had two sons, the eldest of which was planning to go to the same boarding school that Andrew went to. What are the family doing now?

Last time the series saw John he had recently become a barrister after studying law at Oxford. He had also married Claire and decided to stop taking part in the films. In 49 UP John reveals why he has decided to come back to the series and what he’s doing today.

In SEVEN UP, Lynn said when she grew up she wanted to work in Woolworths. She actually went on to work in a library and at 42 UP was still there after 30 years. But in 49 UP, Lynn is devastated by the news that her job as a children’s librarian could soon be abolished. The mother of two talks about her anger that the work she has done for years, providing education and pleasure to thousands of children, could all be about to end.

And what’s happened to Neil? He appeared as a happy child in SEVEN UP, but was wandering lonely and homeless in the Highlands at 28. He surprised viewers when he was rediscovered working as a Liberal Democrat councillor in Hackney at the age of 42. Did he manage to win a seat in parliament? Has he still got a roof over his head? Has he met anyone special to settle down with?

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