The Up Series (1963 - 2012 Granada UK) continues "56 Up" (2012 Granada UK) is the latest episode in the series and was aired in the UK on May 14, 2012.
Home video DVD's are not yet available for "56 Up" (2012 Granada 2012) from Amazon.Com. It seems there is a delay from the time the newest episode is first aired/ released in the UK and when the USA sees and may purchase it.)
For me, the two most remarkable and worthy persons profiled are Neil Hughes and Bruce Balden, neither married or materially "successful" by the 1991 "35 Up" episode, both badgered about that on camera by the off camera interviewer, both stoic and dignified in the face of the negative evaluation the interviewer provides.
Neither man, Hughes or Balden, led conventional, predictable, profitable, "safe" lives. Both opted for exploration, adventure, and service to and comradeship with socially unprestigious groups and persons.
Both took enormous chances, and must be accounted brave, noble men for that alone. They didn't "play it safe." Both exude an intelligence and a willingness to discuss difficult questions and issues in detail on camera, and neither attack the show they appear on, the thoughtless, implicitly insulting interviewer, or the show's and interviewer's obvious prejudices and agenda for the show itself as a piece of social and political propaganda.
Balden and Hughes use the riveting show as a platform to describe their own lives, ideals, and activities in pursuit of those ideals, activities not supported by outside big money or generous support from family, government, or other sources.
We learn more about the world at the times the episodes are presented (every 7 years starting in 1963.....the most recent one in 2004) from observing and listening to the words and ideas of Bruce Balden and Neil Hughes by far than is true of the other children and adults presented, none of whom departed from the settings where they first appeared at age 7 in 1963.
Neil Hughes and his "marching to the beat of the different drummer" (quote from Americn Utopian writer Henry David Thoreau) seems to me the most impressive of all.
He's become the intrepid explorer he announced he'd be at age 7 when he expressed interest in being an Astronaut or a bus driver....two flavors of explorers.
I'm reminded of the words of poet T. S. Eliot (1888 USA - 1965 UK), the USA born poet who settled in England and got the Nobel Prize in 1948.
He wrote a poem titled East Coker, and words from it include the following:
"To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not, You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
"Home is where one starts from. As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated ------------
"Old men ought to be explorers........"
Everybody should be an explorer, not just old men.
Neil Hughes purposed to be an explorer at age 7, started early, still does it. He could be the star of a long run reality TV Show titled "King Of The Road" using the famous Roger Miller hit song of that title from the 1960's, and his views about dealing with and surviving in spite of unsupportive, unintelligent government and present social organization and conventions in the UK, the USA, Australia, and elsewhere could be solicited and published, his lifestyle and behavior widely (and proudly) imitated.
This may all seem far-fetched (see the Academy Award Winner movie titled Network  to see how big media could set this up....no joke!), but the fact is Neil Hughes has probably learned more about the realities of survival and the likely challenges and problems upcoming which must be survived successfully than most people.
People won't get the truth about big issues they face from the government, big religion, or the conventional commercial mass media, nor will big establishment educational systems either provide answers nor seek them.
Neil Hughes knows what others need to know, and is clearly independent enough to share what he knows, able to survive being despised for his independent and necessarily implicitly critical views.
It's an interesting show, and less spectacular careers and worlds of the children/ adults who traveled different, more predictable and conventional paths than Bruce Balden and Neil Hughes are worth noting and following.
The Up Series (1963 - 2012) is a happy accident, the truth provided by the commercial mass media in ways almost never experienced.
BTW, see the excellent interview with director/ producer Michael Apted (1941 UK - ) done by USA Movie Critic of fame Roger Ebert in the "Special Features" section of "49 Up [2005)." Ebert praises the show to the skies.
Written by Tex Allen, SAG-AFTRA movie actor, Columbia PA USA
Email Tex Allen at [email protected]
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