21 Up The New Generation

In the year 2000, Shiver started 7 Up 2000 for the BBC, a new cycle of the landmark ‘Up’ documentary series that charts the lives of ordinary people every seven years. Now the next instalment is here as the kids become adults and turn 21.

Directed by Julian Farino, this new series featured children from all over the UK, from hugely varied backgrounds. Seven years on, the same production team returned to these children as they reached 14, to see how they had changed.

Now, in 2014, we catch up with them again as they approach the milestone of their 21st birthdays.

Episode One – Monday 1 September, 10.35pm, BBC One

Having left school at 16, John from Slough is learning the building trade and working hard to support his passions – music and BMX. He loves the independence that comes with having a job and having his own place.

Ryan, who has cerebral palsy is also enjoying the independence that learning to drive has given him. He is living at home with his mum in Bolton while completing a sports studies degree and his biggest goal is to play on the GB wheelchair rugby team.

At 14, Alex who grew up in North London always imagined she would living abroad. At 21 we find her in Paris, where she is spending a year as an Erasmus student as part of the degree she is taking at Kings College London.

We first met Orala in Hackney, where her Nigerian-born mother, stepfather and siblings still live. Orala is now a final year student at Reading University, though she still feels much more at home in London, where she can pursue her passion for songwriting and performing.

Asif is the eldest boy of a large Pakistani Muslim family from a suburb of Glasgow. At seven he attended a mosque school every day after school, and at 14 attended the local mosque up to five times a day. Assessed as dyslexic at 13, he found school difficult in his teenage years. At 21, he is close to finishing a law degree and relishes his time with his friends, loves music and running.

Jamie was born and still lives in Belfast, where he is studying computer science and is a passionate member of the Alliance party. Considering himself neither Catholic nor Protestant, he is committed to campaigning for a party that wants to bring an end to sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

Episode Two – Tuesday 2 September, 10.35pm, BBC One

In episode two, we meet Stacey who at 14 was painfully shy and had only left her birthplace of New Mills to go on a family holiday. After graduating from university last year with no real idea of what to do next, she applied to teach English in China. At 21, we catch up with her in Changsha, a city the size of London in Hunan Province, Southern China.

A talented footballer at seven and part of the prestigious Leeds United Academy at 14, Sanchez signed his professional contract with the club at the age of 16. His career path has not been so smooth since but he remains positive and committed to his future in the sport.

Gemma and Ryan (who we caught up with in episode one) met at a club for children with disabilities and were ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’ at seven. Gemma contracted a rare virus when she was 18 months old, leaving her with restricted mobility in her arms and legs. At 21, she is a final year criminology student, approaching graduation with a mixture of excitement and trepidation about what comes next.

Oliver, an only child, grew up in West London until he moved away from home at the age of eight to go to boarding school in Oxford. At 14, he was back at home for the holidays, whilst a boarder at Eton. At 21, we catch up with him in New Haven, Connecticut, in his final year as a Yale student, contemplating his future.

At the age of seven, Talan was frequently excluded from the classroom and needed full-time supervision from a dedicated classroom assistant. At 14, he still found school a bit of a struggle, but he stayed on to complete his A Levels. At 21, Talan is currently living with his family in Cornwall, while he decides whether he take up one of his offers of a place at university, or pursue his dream of a career in the military.

The youngest of a close family from Cardiff, Owen was always talented across a number of sports, and spent most days training after school. By the age of 14, Owen was one of the best swimmers in the country in his age group, and had been selected for a talent squad being coached for the London Olympics in 2012. At 21, we find Owen still living at the family home in Cardiff, working 12 hour shifts dealing with PPI claims for a bank and saving madly to get his own place.

As a seven year old growing up in a suburb of Liverpool, Courtney spent a long time dreaming of travel and was desperate to go to America and Australia. When we caught up with her at 14, she had discovered that she was afraid of flying. Always a serious student, Courtney did two sets of A Levels and at 21, we find her at freshers week at the University of Liverpool, where she’s about to embark on a degree in Law.