Claire Lewis on how the programmes following Seven Up

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So basically, the story about 14 Up, which is called 7 Plus Seven, Michael Apted, very quickly after Seven Up, wanted to be a drama director. His career progressed very fast. He did the Street, he then left, went freelance, came back, did some wonderful Jack Rosenthal dramas, and he was in the canteen and this – I know this is true, because he told me – he was in the canteen one day at Granada, doing a drama, and Denis Forman came up to him and said, “How are your seven-year-olds doing?” And Michael said, “Sorry?” he said, “Isn’t it time we went back and visited those children?” And that’s how it happened. So that’s how 7 Plus Seven and the whole… it was never intended to be a series. Seven Up was a one-off special.

Oh, really?
Yes. It was never intended to be a series. And it was only because Denis Forman came and said, “Shouldn’t we be going and having a look at your seven-year-olds?” And in the original commentary for World in Action, for Seven Up, there’s a line, “What will today’s seven-year-olds be doing in the year 2000?” What will the shop steward and the company director… what are they thinking. So there was always a thought that they might go back in the year 2000, but it was never intended. It was a one off. And then they commissioned 7 Plus Seven and the rest is history. And that’s when Michael took ownership of the whole project.

Right. And you’re now the producer?
I’m the producer, yes.

And Michael is executive producer?
No, he’s the director. He produce-directs, and I produce. But we actually do it together.

So you’ve done it since 28.
I have, yes.

Which is how many now?
I’ve done five, and we’re about to embark on the sixth.

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