Tuesday, January 25

Michael Apted, 1941-2021: homage to the ‘visionary’ director of the Up series | Michael Apted


“Give me a boy until he is seven and I will show you the man.”

Aristotle might be pleased that his maxim was the inspiration behind one of the most famous television documentary series of all time, now the legacy of director Michael Apted, who died at the age of 79.

Tony Walker, who appeared in the nine award-winning Above series, which traced the lives of 14 British children from 1963 with Seven Up, up to 60, with last year 63 above – Led tributes to Apted yesterday.

Tony walker
Tony Walker, who appeared on the award-winning series Up de Apted from the age of seven to 60. Photograph: Aldo Arcilla / PA

The former East London taxi driver said Apted, who died on Friday, was “like a member of my family. I loved the man very much and I am quite devastated by his passing. “

Thomas Schlamme, president of the Directors Guild of America, described Apted as a “fearless visionary as a director.” He “saw the path of things when others did not, and we were all the beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifetime dedication.”

He added: “Our hearts are heavy today as we cry [his] He passed.”

The producers of the James Bond film franchise paid tribute to his ability to move “effortlessly and successfully between all genres.” In 1999, Apted directed The world is not enough, starring Pierce Brosnan. “He was loved by everyone who worked with him,” tweeted Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Apted was born in 1941 in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, and later moved to London with his family. As a teenager, he developed a love for film, and described seeing how Ingmar Bergman Wild strawberries like a “Damascus road moment.”

After studying at Cambridge, he joined Granada, where he was asked to find children to participate in a unique documentary. Among the 14 chosen were three boys from a prestigious private school, a boy from a small farm in the Yorkshire Dales, a boy from London, Walker, and a girl from East London.

Michael Apted directing the series Up in 1984.
Michael Apted directing the series Up in 1984. Photograph: ITV / REX / Shutterstock

The show was a precursor to reality TV, but it focused on social history and inequality rather than fleeting celebrities and empty challenges. It was a success but no more shows were planned. A casual inquiry into the children’s progress led to 14 up in 1970, this time with Apted as director. He directed all subsequent series.

He also worked on Coronation Street in the 1960s, and directed the country music classic Coal miner’s daughterer, starring Sissy Spacek as singer Loretta Lynn in 1980. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, and Spacek won best actress.

Apted movie credits included Gorillas in the Mist, CORContinental divide and Critical condition. His last film was the 2017 thriller Unlocked, starring Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas and John Malkovich.

But Above series, which won three Baftas, was his most enduring work. It clearly illustrated the differences in the life chances of children based on their backgrounds, and traced the challenges and personal traumas faced by the participants.

Kevin Lygo, Managing Director of ITV, who broadcast Above, said the series “demonstrated the possibilities of television at its finest in its ambition and its ability to be a mirror of society and to connect and entertain people while enriching our perspective on the human condition.

“Michael’s contribution to film and show making continues to be felt and will be sadly missed.”

George Jesse Turner, a cameraman who shot all but the first two series, told the Observer last year: “At first it was about class, but it was not done scientifically, as it would be done now. It was pretty random, just going to schools in London, Liverpool and the Lake District. “

Apted, he said, was “good to work with. When we go out to film, he never says he would like a particular take. Leave it to me. “

Walker, now 65, whose childhood ambition was to become a jockey, told BBC Radio 4 Today Saturday’s show that, when he was cast in the series, “I was kind of a street urchin. I was excited that the cameras were on me at the time and I never knew what the implications were.

“Above all, Michael gave you that warm feeling. It was like a Catholicism, every time I heard her voice. It was like going to a psychiatrist … [I had] full confidence in him. I’m very sad, I’ve really known Michael my whole life, but for seven years. “


www.theguardian.com

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