A real game of life is played out on a television documentary every seven years.
Seven Up! was commissioned by Granada Television as a programme in the World in Action series broadcast in 1964. From 7 Plus Seven onward the films have been directed by Michael Apted a researcher on Seven Up! who helped choose the original children. The premise of the film was taken from the Jesuit motto “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”.
This has been proved and not proved; the rich children, who already knew at seven the private education mapped out for them, have indeed been successful in predictable careers, but some of the ordinary kids have achieved a lot. Would we have guessed a Yorkshire farm lad would become a nuclear physicist in the USA?
I have followed much of this series and most of the participants have stuck with it, what an opportunity to create an historic record of society and your life. The interviews seem dignified, but candid. The most interesting has been Neil, at seven funny and full of life, but by 21 finding life difficult and over the years he has had ups and downs. It may be fashionable now to talk of mental health issues, but Neil has always faced the camera when he could easily have dropped out.
Does the taking part in such a programme influence what you do in your life? How many of us would want our lives exposed. I guess seven years is long enough to get on with your life unobserved before the next episode. How would the rest of us fare under the seven year spotlight? At seven I was in a Church of England junior school and life was pretty simple and good; I would never have guessed that at fourteen I would be living on the other side of the world. We emigrated to Australia when I was eleven.
I can imagine sitting giggling with my best friend and being interviewed like the three girls at their comprehensive school. However I do not think I would have liked my gauche pimply self filmed for posterity. At fourteen I would never have guessed I would be back in England just before my twenty first birthday; ostensibly on a working holiday, but with absolutely no idea what to do next. I wouldn’t have wanted Michael Apted probing into my ‘life is something that happens to other people ( quote from Alan Bennett ) period.’ At twenty eight, married with a toddler and over extending ourselves to buy a little flat, I could have put in a reasonable appearance, with career failures pushed into the background…
The ‘seven uppers’ have a unique record of their lives, with 63 the latest episode shown recently. Will the director Michael Apted still be around to make 70 Up? In the twenty first century bloggers can write about their lives in minute detail for everyone to see, will young bloggers keep blogging for their whole lives?
Meanwhile in real life Cyberspouse finished his chemotherapy course, followed a few weeks later by a scan and last week we saw the oncologist to hear the results; everything still stable, nothing changed since the last scan, report back for check up in six weeks. Take an extra throw of the dice.
But a visiting in-law heard her relative had just died, four years after being given six months to live. The Game of Life has no rules, or at least not rules the medical profession can understand for sure.