Saturday 1 October 2016

Seven Up! creator Paul Almond dies

Published 17/04/2015 | 08:26

Paul Almond's landmark 1964 documentary Seven Up! inspired an extended look at British children's unfolding lives (Joan Almond via AP)
Paul Almond's landmark 1964 documentary Seven Up! inspired an extended look at British children's unfolding lives (Joan Almond via AP)

Paul Almond, a Canadian-born filmmaker whose landmark 1964 documentary Seven Up! inspired an extended look at British children's unfolding lives, has died. Almond was 83.

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Almond died of complications from heart disease at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on April 9, his longtime friend David Stansfield said.

"He wanted all his life to be a poet. But he had to earn a living and ended up being a producer and director," Stansfield said.

Born in Montreal, he started his career at the CBC and went on to produce and direct more than 100 dramas for the Canadian network as well as US and UK broadcasters, according to Almond's website. He also wrote and adapted plays for TV.

He brought the works of Harold Pinter, Tennessee Williams and other famed writers to TV, and his projects featured future stars including Sean Connery, Maggie Smith and William Shatner, Stansfield said.

Almond, also a big-screen filmmaker, took great pride in the movies Isabel (1968), Act of the Heart (1970) and Journey (1972), which he wrote and directed, his friend said. The movies starred Almond's then-wife, actress Genevieve Bujold.

It was in England that Seven Up! emerged from a pub discussion in which Almond observed that Britain's social class system was firmly entrenched. His companion cited the maxim, "Give me a child until he is 7, and I will give you the man," and the idea for the project was born, Almond's website recounts.

The critically praised Seven Up! in which 14 children from different social and economic backgrounds talk about their lives and futures, ended up being the foundation for a continuing look at them by filmmaker Michael Apted.

Apted, a researcher on the original film, revisited its subjects every seven years for the documentaries including 7 Plus Seven in 1970, 21 Up in 1977 to the latest, 56 Up, released in 2012.

Almond, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of Canada and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada, turned to writing full-time in 1990. His published works included the Alford Saga, eight adventure novels based on family history.

His survivors include his wife, Joan; Matthew Almond, his son with Bujold; as well as stepchildren and grandchildren.

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