8 January 2013 1:44 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

In a culture so reliant on phony reality shows, documentary series offers a refreshing glimpse of real people in real lives

One of the questions Michael Apted is most frequently asked, in relation to his now half-century-old documentary series, 7 Up, is did participating in the programme significantly alter the lives of its subjects?

In 56 Up, the latest installment, bitterness is expressed by some of them: that the snapshot of their lives delivered every seven years is too brief to be meaningful. That they have been fitted into a narrative about the class system in Britain that is unfair and not borne out by the finer details. That they dread the interview every time it comes around.

"There was some residual anger," said Apted when I spoke to him last week. "They were put up for the show as children, before they were able to say no," and were then stuck with it. »

- Emma Brockes

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