CLAUDIA CONNELL on TV review: 63 Up and a joy to catch up with chums

CLAUDIA CONNELL reviews last night’s TV: 63 Up and it’s a joy to catch up with some charming old chums

63 Up, ITV 

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Her Majesty’s Cavalry, ITV 

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As a grubby-faced seven-year-old, Tony Walker was one of the standout characters from Michael Apted’s Up series of documentary films.

Updated every seven years, Apted set out to chart the lives of 14 British children since 1964.

Like a character from Oliver Twist, Tony was an East End ball of energy who dreamed of being a jockey, hated posh people and loved to fight. 

He was the first person we caught up with in the latest instalment, 63 Up (ITV), and Tony was quick to scold Apted, now 78, for judging him at 21 and questioning whether he might end up in prison.

At a time when TV schedules are flooded with low-rent reality offerings, 63 Up proved that it is possible to make thoughtful, poignant fly-on-the-wall programmes that educate and entertain without exploiting

As a grubby-faced seven-year-old, Tony Walker was one of the standout characters from Michael Apted’s Up series of documentary films

‘I’m cheeky, I play the joker but I’m a decent citizen,’ he said.

Still married to Debbie, the couple were living on a retirement complex in Essex where Tony, who worked as a London cabbie, let rip at Uber for his drop in income.

More so than any other participant, Tony had tried to make his dreams a reality. He trained as a jockey and raced at Kempton against Lester Piggott — even if he did come last.

Sue Davis — one of the East End girls, always fiercely bright and articulate — had become a chief administrator at Queen Mary University of London.

Watching her confidently deliver a lecture to students, it was hard to reconcile her with the shy teenager we’d previously seen who couldn’t make eye contact with the camera.

More so than any other participant, Tony had tried to make his dreams a reality. He trained as a jockey and raced at Kempton against Lester Piggott — even if he did come last. Tony Walker is pictured aged 28 in 1985 

Another objective of the Up series was to see whether our social class predetermines our future. Sue proved that it didn’t have to be so.

We certainly saw the man in prep schoolboy Andrew Brackfield who, at seven, had stated that he would go to Charterhouse followed by Trinity College Cambridge — and did just that. 

He was now partner in a law firm, had a London and Cotswolds home and was contemplating retirement.

Nick Hitchon was the farmer’s son from Yorkshire who had resolutely refused to discuss girlfriends: ‘I don’t answer questions like that,’ he memorably said aged seven.

It came as a blow to learn that he is seriously ill with throat cancer and ‘focused on the short-term future’. 

One documentary that failed to educate was Her Majesty’s Cavalry (ITV), a new series that examined life for members of the Household Cavalry, the regiment that’s been protecting the monarch for over 350 years

It was testament to just how much these strangers have come to mean to the viewer.

At a time when TV schedules are flooded with low-rent reality offerings, 63 Up proved that it is possible to make thoughtful, poignant fly-on-the-wall programmes that educate and entertain without exploiting.

One documentary that failed to educate was Her Majesty’s Cavalry (ITV), a new series that examined life for members of the Household Cavalry, the regiment that’s been protecting the monarch for over 350 years.

The barracks in Knightsbridge is home to the ceremonial unit where 300 soldiers and 200 horses lived side by side.

Last night we watched as Lance Corporal of The Horse, Raf Dolor, participated for the last time in Trooping The Colour before leaving the regiment. 


Last night we watched as Lance Corporal of The Horse, Raf Dolor (left), participated for the last time in Trooping The Colour before leaving the regiment. When it came to cutting the mustard for the TV viewer, however, the programme fell short

Originally from St Lucia, he admitted he wouldn’t miss one of his more unusual grooming duties — rubbing baby oil into his horse’s bottom to make it shine. 

It turned out half of the new recruits failed their training, unsurprising since most had never ridden before.

‘You have to be able to cut the mustard for Her Majesty, she’s the boss,’ said Corporal of Horse Frankie O’Leary. 

When it came to cutting the mustard for the TV viewer, however, the programme fell short.

Once firmly off limits to TV cameras, military units seem to now have an open-door policy for film crews. 

The result is a never-ending stream of shows that don’t tell you anything you didn’t already know or suspect. 

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