As he dies at 79, CHRISTOPHER STEVENS salutes director Michael Apted
by Christopher Stevens
There was Tony, the cheeky East End lad who dreamed of being a jockey. Little ballerina Suzy, the girl from a wealthy family.
Mixed-race Symon, who grew up in an orphanage and became a foster parent.
Neil, the would-be astronaut and restless soul who later dropped out of university and lived in a squat . . .
No doubt, as you read this, some of you can picture their faces now, just a few of the unforgettable characters we met as children in the ITV documentary series Seven Up! (later Up) and have followed throughout their lives — remember Lynn the librarian and am-dram actress Sue?
One of the girls, Suzy Lusk (pictured above in the series when she was a child) refused to take part in the latest instalment. Apted resorted to borrowing a phone and ringing her, ‘so she’d think it was someone else. Then I said it was me, and she put the phone down’
And we’d have known none of them without Michael Apted, the film-maker behind the series, who died last week aged 79.
(CNN) British filmmaker and documentarian Michael Apted died Thursday night in Los Angeles at the age of 79, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) announced in a statement Friday.
No details about his death were immediately available.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of esteemed director, longtime DGA leader and my friend Michael Apted. His legacy will be forever woven into the fabric of cinema and our Guild,” Thomas Schlamme, the president of DGA, said.
“A fearless visionary as a director and unparalleled Guild leader, Michael saw the trajectory of things when others didn’t, and we were all the beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong dedication,” Schlamme said.
Born in 1941 in Aylesbury, England, Apted had a prolific body of work in television, film and documentaries.
He is known especially for directing the Up series (1964–2019). The Up series follows the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The documentary has had nine episodes—one episode every seven years—thus spanning 56 years. In 1991 the then most recent installment, 28 Up, was chosen for Roger Ebert’s list of the ten greatest films of all time.
Apted directed the 1980 movie “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the musical and comedy category. Sissy Spacek won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film.