Reality TV programmes have become so commonplace that we hardly bat an eyelid when we see a new programme announced. 49 years ago, however, things were very different. When a group of 7 year olds were brought together to document their lives and ambitions for a programme called 7 up. Follow up programmes planned every 7 years to see how their lives progressed, and whether those childhood dreams and ambitions became a reality. So how has life turned out for those 50 somethings who opened up their lives for the cameras all those years ago? Jackie talks about the latest update and her participation in 56up. Nearly 50 years of her life captured on film:
How would you describe your 7-up experience?
On the whole my experience with the series has been good, you always look back and think, “why did I say that”, or “I wish I hadn’t said that” but I believe that can is a good portrayal of life in general.
For people who might have missed the series on TV, how would you describe it?
I think its best described as a reality show with real people from all different backgrounds, talking about their lives and how they cope with the trials and tribulations that it brings.
Changes over the last 49 years
You have obviously been involved in reality TV for many years now, what changes have you noticed?
In the actual programme, very little, except we have all gotten older! But in general, I have noticed massive differences. Women are now captains of industry, running their own businesses and generally taking on positions of power. However, I still don’t think it’s easy for any woman to get to the top of an industry and that we, as a country are, still more male orientated.
If you could go back in time, would you still go through with each series?
Yes, most definitely, although doing 56 Up was more emotional for me than any of the previous series. If someone was to watch 21 Up it’s obvious I’m not happy but that was still easier than doing the last programme.
Modern day reality TV stars get thrown into the celebrity spotlight. How do you think you would have coped had this series resulted in a celebrity status?
I have no idea at all but to be honest I really don’t think it would of happened to me.
Looking back over the previous series, is there one stand out episode or moment?
I think, for me, it would be either 7 Up or 56 Up. 7 Up because we are all sweet, innocent children with no inkling as to what was ahead! 56 Up because it was so emotional, with the loss of so many close family and friends and the birth of my 1st grandchild.
Would you let your children enter the world of reality television if a similar opportunity came along for them?
If it was in a similar format as our program, yes. Although, I don’t think I could stop them anyway, they are grown men now.
What effect has the series had on your friendship with Sue and Lynn?
I don’t think it has had a massive effect, we always pick up were we left off from the last time we saw each other.
You gave Michael Apted a bit of a hard time in the last series, what are your thoughts on him as a director now?
Firstly, Michael is a director doing his job – which I understand. I don’t always agree with it and as I am not a shrinking violet I decided it was time to let him know. Secondly, Michael Apted the man is one of the nicest, most successful people I know. If I rang him and needed help I know he would be there for me so it is important people understand the difference.
In your opinion, how well would a regular viewer of the 7 Up series ‘know’ you and your life? Is it important to hold some things back?
The only thing I have held back was something that would hurt other people if it went out in a public arena, I’m sorry but I am not prepared to do that. The programme makers also know that this one area is off limits, apart from that I have been totally honest in my opinions and reactions.
If you missed the opportunity to watch 56 up when it was aired in the summer, it is now available on DVD. 56 Up [DVD]