- 21 Up The New Generation stars were first filmed aged seven in 2000
- They returned to screens aged 14, and are now back at 21
- Latest instalment will see many admit they have failed to reach their goals
- Many are studying at university, but unsure about what to do next
- Others are working, or struggling to find sporting success
- Programme is a modern-day version of the original 1960s 7 Up series
Seven years ago they were all teenagers filled with joyful optimism for their futures.
But pictured here at 21, the millennium 7 Up generation include school drop outs, sporting failures and many still living with their parents.
The 13 stars of the TV documentary, launched the first year of the new millennium in 2000 when they were all aged seven, return to our screens next week for the latest instalment and will see many admit they have failed to reach their goals and life is harder than they imagined.
Where is he now? John, who was first filmed as a seven-year-old returns for 21 Up The New Generation, which finds him at 21 having dropped out of school and working at his step-father’s building firm
On the move: Ryan has learned to drive, making him more independent, and hopes to represent Team GB at wheelchair rugby
Those taking part in 21 Up The New Generation include John who dropped out of school at 16 and now works at his step-father’s building firm where he is learning the trade on the job.
Then there is Owen who at 14 was one of the best swimmers in the country in his age group and had visions of Olympic success, having been selected for a London 2012 talent squad. At 21 he is still living with his family in Cardiff and working 12-hour shifts dealing with PPI claims for a bank in order to save for a home of his own.
Talan, a rebellious teenager and self-confessed ‘loner’ often clashed with teachers and fellow pupils when he was filmed at 14. Now his living at home with his mother, step-father and step-siblings in Cornwall. Talan has been accepted to university but is unsure whether to go or to join the military.
Uncertainty: Alex is spending a year of her King’s College London degree studying in Paris, but she is unsure what the future will bring
Dreams come true: When she was younger, Alex loved the idea of traveling to exotic destinations and always imagined herself living abroad
It is Oliver who has proved to be the most successful of those taking part in this reality TV social experiment. Fortunate enough to have been privately educated at 14 and studying at Eton he was found to be a talented rower and able to secure a place at the Ivy League Yale University in the USA. As life as a student draws to a close his only dilemma appears to be where to go next.
Studying: Orala is studying at Reading University, but misses the creative buzz of London
The programme is a modern-day version of the original 7 Up series which started in the 1960s as an examination of the rigid class structures which existed back then.
The idea behind Michael Apsted’s 7 Up series was to test the Jesuit maxim ‘Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man.’
In the Sixties the project was considered to be a spotlight on class looking at who would be the shopkeepers of tomorrow and who would end up the bank managers.
The aim of the modern version appears to be to shift the guage to reflect the way in which we live now with the subjects selected from a wide ethnic and geographical mix. Some of them have Pakistani, Nigerian and Romanian parents and whereas the previous subjects were all based in England, the fresh batch are from as far afield as Belfast and Glasgo.
The 21st century version also reveals how much the traditional family structure has diversified since the original.
Series director Julian Farino, who adapted the 1964 series 7 Up to make the programmes, has followed the lives of the contributors closely.
Last night he said he felt responsible for the young people who had laid bare their hopes and dreams to him during the filming process.
Mr Farino said: ‘I have known the characters in our films since they were six years old and have been trusted with portraying them on film in an honest and intimate way aged seven, 14 and now 21 – it’s a strangely intense bond. They have become friends as well as subjects of the films, and I feel we have shared their highs and lows – the separation of parents, the deaths of relatives, the triumphs of achievements.’
So at 21 where are they now?
At 7: Claims he was in heaven when he flew in an aeroplane but said it was ‘boring’ sitting on clouds all day.
At 14: John loved BMX biking and music and remains passionate about them. He hopes they will take him all over the world.
At 21: Dropped out of school at 16 and now works at his step-father’s building firm, where he is learning the trade on the job. John still lives in his home town of Slough but moved out of his family’s house at 18
At 7: Had met Gemma at a club for children with disabilities and were ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’.
At 14: Ryan was frustrated by his cerebral palsy. He played wheelchair football and has dreams of becoming manager of Bolton Wanderers.
At 21: He has learned to drive, making him more independent. He lives with his mother in Bolton while studying for a degree in sports science. He has switched sports to wheelchair rugby and hopes to represent Team GB.
At 7: The daughter of a Romanian mother and English father, she was living in London but had often had to relocate because of her father’s job.
At 14: She loved the idea of traveling to exotic destinations and always imagined herself living abroad.
At 21: Spending a year of her King’s College London degree studying in Paris. But Alexandra is unsure what the future will bring – her boyfriend lives in London and her parents in Dubai.
At 7: Jamie’s parents had split up and he spoke movingly about his father moving out.
At 14: He was just nine when his father died. So he was brought up by his mother and brother but decided to move out when he went to college.
At 21: Studying for a computer science degree at Queen’s University in Belfast and working part time as a computer programmer. He is interested in politics, volunteering for the Alliance Party, and wants to see an end to sectarianism in Northern Ireland.
At 7: Very proud of his home in Chapeltown, a suburb of Leeds, he showed off his dance moves for the camera.
At 14: To play top level football for Leeds United. Sanchez joined the club’s academy at 14 and was given at professional contract at 16.
At 21: Sanchez is facing an uncertain future in football and is still living in his family home in Leeds.
At 7: The eldest boy of a large Pakistani Muslim family in Glasgow, he attended classes at the local mosque every day after school.
At 14: Asif was passionate about his faith, visiting the mosque up to five times a day. Having been diagnosed as dyslexic at 13, he was struggling at school and lacked confidence.
At 21: Busy studying for a degree in law at Paisley University.
At 7: Growing up in Hackney with her Nigerian-born mother.
At 14: Passionate about song writing and performance.
At 21: Studying at Reading University, but she misses the creative vibe of London, where she grew up. She tends to avoid the social side of university, which she says is too much about drinking.
At 7: The youngest child of a close-knit family in Cardiff, he was already showing promise in a number of sports and spent most evenings after school training.
At 14: One of the best swimmers in the country in his age group and had visions of Olympic success, having being selected for a London 2012 talent squad.
At 21: Living with his family but working 12-hour shifts dealing with PPI claims for a bank in order to save for a home of his own.
At 7: Was seen dancing in her bedroom to the band Steps.
At 14: Stacey was painfully shy, something she found held her back. At 14 she had only left her home town once.
At 21: Found success as the only member of her family to go to university and graduated from the University of Lancaster. Unsure of what to do after graduating, she applied to teach English in China and is nos in Changsha, a city the size of London in Hunan Province.
At 7: Gemma had bravely battled with the crippling condition Cervical Transverse Myelitis which she contracted aged 10 months
At 14: Gemma thought she might be married to her boyfriend Nathan by the time she was 21 and was set on going to drama school or pursuing a career in social care.
At 21: With a new boyfriend and studying for a degree in criminology at a university in Liverpool. Now that her mum has remarried and moved to London, Gemma lives with her sister in Bolton.
At 7: Talan was frequently excluded from the classroom and needed full-time supervision. He found it difficult to make friends and preferred to spend time on his own or with his pets.
At 14: He described himself as a ‘loner’. Despite finding it difficult to concentrate in class, often clashing with teachers and fellow pupils.
At 21: Living at home with his mother, step-father and step-siblings in Cornwall. Talan has been accepted to university but it unsure whether to go or to join the military.
At 7: Goes to an expensive school but is not preoccupied about being rich when he is older, he said: ‘”I don’t fancy being stared at through a fancy car window’.
At 14: Found himself to be a talented rower as a teenager at Eton.
At 21: Thanks to his rowing, Oliver secured a place at the Ivy League Yale University in the USA. But as life as a student draws to an end, Oliver is unsure where to go next.
At 7: From Kirkby, a suburb of Liverpool, Courtney dreamed of travelling the world, particularly America and Australia.
At 14: She had discovered she had a fear of flying, putting travel plans on hold. She also had high hopes of going to Oxford University.
At 21: Having realised Oxford was going to be too expensive to attend, she applied to study law in Liverpool and is about to begin her first year.
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