The Up Television Series

I am showing my students the Up films as part of my module Sociological Practice. In 1964, Granada Television interviewed, and spent some time with, a group of 7 year olds from diverse class backgrounds about their aspirations, attitudes to love and marriage, what sort of schooling they were getting, and other things that were meant to draw attention to their class position and how that was expected to be related to their future lives. The programme starts and ends with the Jesuit maxim ‘give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man’.

Since then these ‘children’, who are the same age as me, have been interviewed again every seven years and a new programme has been produced each time. Granada Television and the producer Michael Apted have stuck with the group and the idea and have produced an ethnographic, longitidunal study of social class in Britain. It is a marvellous series. It illustrates the class structure of the 1960s and how it changed shape over the decades (and how it has persisted). It demonstrates the interaction of individual agency with social structure in the context of daily lives and wider historical change.

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