The future of C4 and Facebook was on ITV this week
This week saw the latest instalment of The Up Series. Originally commissioned by Granada television in 1965, Up is a documentary series that has followed the lives of 14 people from the age of 7, returning to each of them every seven years to see how they and their lives have changed (or not).
Would the format survive with the seven year gap since the last episode, during which the arrival of social media could have made the series redundant? The fact is, it was more powerful than ever and Monday’s 56 Up was about as powerful a piece of television as you’re likely to see this year.
Intimate detail became epic stories on the screen; as a viewer you recognised that not only were the 14 telling you their story, they were helping you to understand yours in a way that only great television can.
This was not the curated ‘authentic’ self of social media nor the self-actualised optimism of ‘Life in a Day’ but the really real deal. With all its mundane glory, earned the hard-but-only-possible way, in the really real-time of 56 years.
A ratings hit? Not quite, but with an 8.1 TVRs versus Scott and Bailey’s 10.0 it certainly held its own, and at the same time set Twitter and Zeebox on fire in a way that signals next week’s episode (2/3)could grow.
It’s all too easy to think that we live in the era of risk taking, progress and change but can anyone honestly imagine a publisher or broadcaster committing to a project that could take over a hundred years to complete? Well I think I can. C4 has felt the absence of Big Brother and perhaps a look back at the pioneers of 1964 would be a source of inspiration for a channel famed for its daring.