Focus is on a new generation

Alexandra Whitton

Alexandra Whitton

First published in Tonight's TV
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21 UP: New Generation (BBC1, 10.35pm)

OLDER viewers will be aware that the black and white start of The ...Up series, with its eerie title music and excited voices of children at play, first started back in 1964, with Seven Up!, a remarkably forward-thinking documentary which featured a group of seven-year-olds, and revisited them every seven years with the latest instalment, 56 Up, airing in 2012.

The starting point was the chilling Jesuit motto: "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man," which is based on a quotation by Francis Xavier.

Those who followed the fortunes of children like Neil Hughes, originally from Liverpool, found themselves confronted with a troubled homeless man who disappeared from filming at the age of 28, only for him to reappear in 56 Up as an active politician. No wonder film critic Roger Ebert described director Michael Apted’s TV vehicle as an "inspired, even noble, use of the film medium". Of course, that didn’t stop the makers of The Simpsons poking fun at Apted’s documentary style in 2007.

With Granada, the BBC and ITV airing the original programmes, it’s hardly surprising that the Beeb kicked off a new century by looking at a new generation of people from all walks of life. They include John, a builder from Slough who works hard to support his two passions in life: music and BMX. Ryan from Bolton, has cerebral palsy and is studying for a sports degree while harbouring a dream of playing for the GB wheelchair rugby team. He's come a long way since last we saw him, and he's enjoying the new-found freedom which his car affords him. He explains "As soon as I passed my test, I felt so good. Just brilliant – I love driving. I don't have to rely on anyone, I just hop in my car and go".

Hackney student Orala is pursuing her passion for songwriting and performing, Belfast-born Jamie is passionate about politics, and Glasgow man Asif, having struggled at school as a teenager, is close to finishing a law degree.

Now the young people have got the key to the door they are going to be faced with reminders of what they thought they’d be doing at the age of 14.

In the case of Alex from North London, the daughter of a Romanian mother and English father, she was a frequent traveller, as her dad’s job often required him to relocate all over Europe. When was 14, she imagined herself living abroad. At 21, we find her in Paris, where she is spending a year as an Erasmus student as part of the degree she is taking at Kings College London. With her boyfriend in London, and her parents now living in Dubai, Alex has immersed herself in Parisian life, determined to make the most of her year abroad before thinking about careers and what to do next.

Jamie's Comfort Food (Channel 4, 8pm)

JAMIE Oliver is determined to put a new twist on some old favourites, showing how everything from shepherd's pie to sticky toffee pudding can keep its nostalgic appeal without tasting like something you were once served in the school canteen. Jamie’s never frightened to thrown open his Essex home and friend Christian, aka DJ BBQ is soon discussing the ultimate burger.

Alex Polizzi: The Fixer (BBC2, 9pm)

THE hot questions about hotels can no longer hold Alex Polizzi, who is back to deliver more no-nonsense advice the businesses in danger of going bust. Six years ago Paul Walker decided to turn his dream of running a micro-brewery in the Devon countryside into a reality. Unfortunately, while he may spend a lot of time surrounded by alcohol, he's also had to deal with spiralling finances, and his family life is suffering. Paul is advised to turn the trend for real ale to his advantage, and take a trip to Paris to seek out new customers.

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