PHEW, that’s a relief. Always with the 7 Up series there’s anxiety over how we’ll find the subjects, another seven years down the line.
STV, Monday, 9pm
Tales Of Television Centre
BBC4, Thursday, 9pm
BBC1, Tuesday, 9pm
But the first batch in 56 Up seemed pretty content with their lot. We’ve all been through so much together, subjects and viewers, and I must admit I was holding my breath, as always, over Neil. (Not holding it for a whole seven years, you understand, otherwise I’d be a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent – probably winning it, too).
Contentedness for Neil is still relative. He still has problems with people, still no significant other. But he’s not traipsing the west of Scotland any more, or Shetland. His stooping, scuttling walk became a recurring image and usually he was headed nowhere. The main objective at the time of 28 Up was “finding the warmest shed”. These days he’s a lay minister, hasn’t given up dreams of becoming a writer and campaigns hard as a Lib Dem councillor to keep public loos open. There’s a joke in there but while the party might deserve it, Neil doesn’t.
Because he was such a happy, smiling, skipping, duffel-coated boy at 7 Up, Neil’s story may always be poignant. Paul at that age declared he didn’t want to get married. “Say you had a wife who made you eat what they cooked and that was greens. I don’t like greens.” Well, in Susan he seems to have ended up with such a woman, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. She’s Australian so she’s not backward in coming forward and that’s probably what he needed, and now Paul’s Australian, too, speaking the accent in the retirement village they help run.
Unless I wasn’t paying attention in 49 Up – unlikely, as I love this series – they’re its first grandparents. Paul looked at his own son, a dad of five, and wondered how he managed financially, before another flashback to Paul at seven: “I’ve got 23 pennies and I don’t know how many halfpennies.”
Another of the subjects, Sue, also doing well, still has her daughter living at home: “She’s got nowhere else to go.” Everybody spoke with love and wisdom about being parents, even Neil in his strange, sad way. He doesn’t want children for fear of what they might inherit from him. Peter, who’s not appeared since 28 Up, was asked what kids appreciated most: “Unstinting love, support and time.” This was almost warm, and crowded, sheds all round though there are two more films to come.
James Burke, Pinky and Perky (so psychotic!), Michael Bentine blowing up things in It’s A Square World, Joan Bakewell (so crumpety!), Biddy Baxter (ditto!), Sarah Greene (ditto!), men in cravats, David Nixon, Marty Feldman, the most terrifying bits of Doomwatch, the merest glimpse of the credits (but that’s enough) of Adam Adamant Lives!, Dave Allen, Cherry from Pan’s People all gathered together in celebration of a building that someone described as being like Thunderbirds’ Tracy Island though I’m happy to debate this at length because I reckon it’s closer to Space City in Fireball XL5. Yes, this is just about my dream programme. It actually exists, and is called Tales of Television Centre. Tragically, though, the fun factory will soon be no more; the BBC is flogging it off. It can’t be knocked down but the decision to cease broadcasting from Wood Lane, W12, still seems like cultural vandalism.
A large number of the contributors – Greene, Philip Glenister, Esther Rantzen, Greg Dyke, Zoe Ball – got to visit as kids because their dads or some other members of the family worked there and the magic of the place never left them. Every nook and cranny was investigated (not that circular buildings have too many nooks, but you know what I mean). We got lost in the neverending corridors, just like John Craven the time he almost missed Newsround. We glimpsed the statue where Brian Blessed once affixed a condom, possibly during his failed attempts to “get off” with Babs from Pan’s People (Robert Powell did, after treating the whole troupe to a night out, and they’ve been together 40 years). But the best bit? That would have been Noel Edmonds leading the Swapshop cameras into the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum studio. For a deliciously squirmy moment the cast didn’t know who the hell he was.
It’s good to have Silk back and now that Martha has beaten Clive to the QC’s horsehair their relationship is even more complicated. My favourite character, though, is Billy the slippery senior clerk, and I liked last week’s history lesson for Martha down by the Thames referencing Shakespeare, Anne Boleyn and “the diabetic perspiration of our greatest olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave”.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east