DirectorMichael Apted

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Michael Apted. Born in Buckinghamshire, England, when Apted graduated from Cambridge University, he got a temporary job as a trainee for Granada Television in Manchester, where he worked as a researcher for director Paul Almond. One of his first projects: choose fourteen 7-year-old children for a documentary to explore the Jesuit motto, “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” The result, aired as 7 Up! in May 1964, started, “Why did we bring these [children] together? Because we wanted a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The union leader and the business executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old.” Apted got the job of directing follow-up documentaries on the 9 boys and 3 girls — every 7 years …for 56 years. The films were referred to as the “Up” series; Film critic Roger Ebert named the 1991 edition, 28 Up, one of the ten greatest films of all time. The most recent, 63 Up, aired in June 2019.

Apted in 2007 (Photo: David Shankbone CC BY-SA 3.0, cropped)

The gig left Apted with a lot of free time. He directed two dozen episodes of Granada’s series Coronation Street, and scores of episodes of dozens of other shows. He also directed numerous films, including Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), Gorky Park (1983), Gorillas in the Mist (1988), the 19th James Bond installment The World Is Not Enough (1999), Enigma (2001), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), as well as several other documentaries. He spent much of his career in Hollywood, and served as the president of the Directors Guild of America (2003–2009). “I hope to do 84 Up when I’ll be 99,” Apted said, but he died at his home in Los Angeles on January 7, at 79.

From This is True for 10 January 2021