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Landmark series Up returns to BBC One as Julian Farino directs 28Up Millennium Generation

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From award-winning director Julian Farino (Giri/Haji) and produced by Melanie Archer (Race For The White House), 28Up Millennium Generation is the fourth in the series of films which has been following a group of seven year-olds from all over the UK since 2000, charting their lives every seven years. They’ve now reached the age of 28.

Over 20 years in the making, and made by the same production team throughout, the films are ultimately a celebration of the magic of ordinary lives, and a hopeful and optimistic account of what it means to be a British millennial.

The children were chosen from as far apart as Cornwall, the Inner Hebrides, Liverpool, London, and beyond, and came from a hugely diverse range of backgrounds. Together they painted a unique and personal portrait of Britain at the turn of the millennium.

At seven, they were asked about love, about God, about money and about their families. At 14 they were preoccupied by the challenges of teenage life. And at 21 we found young adults anxious about finding jobs, looking for relationships and establishing their independence as they approached the end of full-time study.

This time around, we meet our 28 year-olds in 2021, amid a lot of uncertainty about their futures. But between them they’ve found fame, started new careers, and fallen in love – as well as dealing with serious mental health issues, the pain of bereavement and broken dreams. Of our contributors, only a quarter have been able to afford their own home and only one is married and has children.

The overriding theme of 28Up is that they have become more comfortable in themselves, and less apologetic about their opinions and choices, or as one puts it, “got better and better at being me”. Most of all, the films allow us to witness the hopes, expectations, disappointments and joy of everyday life as we all experience it – and as a result, make us reflect on our own lives.

Director Julian Farino says: “I have worked extensively in drama but there is something uniquely special about filming the 7Up series over these last 21 years. To befriend and watch people grow up on film is extraordinary and is an absolute privilege.

“What I love about the 7Up series is that it celebrates the lives of ordinary people. It shows that every life has its challenges and dramas, and it is incredible to see both continuity and change in personality. It makes it impossible not to reflect on one’s own life.”

BBC documentaries Commissioning Editor Emma Loach says: “We are thrilled to announce that the celebrated Up series will be returning to BBC One later this month with 28Up Millennium Generation. Seven years on from the last instalment, our fully matured protagonists now find themselves catapulted into adult life, and having to adapt to a sharply competitive world, increased responsibilities and fresh challenges brought on by a global pandemic.

“Most often, the best television is comprised from the stories of real people, and the Up series offers the most intimate insights into the contrasting lives of 14 exceptional individuals in the UK, providing the perfect narrative on what it is like to grow up today in this country.”

Producer Melanie Archer says: “We’ve known our contributors now for 21 years and grow closer to them with every instalment – so each time it matters even more that we do it right. It’s what makes the project so special and unique – it’s both a privilege and a huge responsibility.

“Our contributors didn’t choose to be in the spotlight, and most would actively run away from it. But they believe in us, the filmmakers, and in the power of the project to document their ordinary lives – we all feel privileged to be part of this unique, extended family.”

28Up Millennium Generation is directed by Julian Farino, produced by Melanie Archer, and Executive produced by Melanie Archer, Julian Farino and Mark Rubens for Multistory Media. Production Manager is Joanna Lewis for Multistory Media. Editor is Kim Horton. Commissioned by Patrick Holland, Director, Factual, Arts & Classical Music and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Emma Loach.

Transmission dates will be announced in due course.