Director's Death Leaves Legacy Project in Limbo

Michael Apted was best known for his ongoing 'Up' documentary, which spanned decades
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2021 11:46 AM CST
Director's Death Leaves Lifelong Project in Limbo
A file photo of the late Michael Apted.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

So what happens in 2026? That's the big question left in the wake of the death of director Michael Apted, best known for his ongoing Up series of documentaries. If you're unfamiliar, just know that it's "the greatest documentary television series of the last century," writes Alissa Quart at the New Republic. In the early '60s, Apted interviewed a group of 7-year-olds in England for a film he called Seven Up, and he had revisited the group every seven years or so since. The last installment was 63 Up in 2019. However, Apted didn't exactly leave a clear succession plan, leaving the 2026 installment in limbo, reports the New York Times. "I suppose she could do it" was perhaps the closest he came to revealing his thoughts on the matter, referring to longtime series producer Claire Lewis during the promotional tour for the 2019 film.

"I could carry it on," Lewis tells the newspaper, but she adds that participants would have to consent. And there's also the matter of everybody's advancing age. "We're all geriatric, honestly," says Lewis, who puts her age at 70-ish. "We're going to need an ambulance, if we ever did it again, to take us all around. I think we'll just have to say we'll wait and see." At least one participant, Jackie Bassett, is on board. "70 and 7 do have a good symmetry," she says. "It would definitely have to be the last one for everybody." The BBC notes that the series, lauded for its exploration of socioeconomic class issues, is seen as the forerunner for modern reality TV. (Another new documentary explores the final days of Robin Williams.)

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