The BBC is to air a new series about social mobility in the UK, following six highly promising 13-year-old children in state schools through their GCSE years to see if they can overcome the challenges of their underprivileged backgrounds, reports The Guardian.
Filmed over three years, the BBC2 show Generation Gifted charts their progress twice a year up to the age of 16, but could be extended to cover their A-levels, university and beyond – echoing the trailblazing Seven Up, which has followed the lives of 14 children every seven years since 1964 and is due to return next year.
Two of the girls in the programme, Anne-Marie and Shakira, have younger brothers with disabilities and their families are on benefits. In one moving scene, Anne-Marie vows to save up to fulfil her dream of attending university after learning it will cost £9,000 a year; talented artist Shakira thinks the limit of her talents is to become a tattoo artist and says she will probably not leave her home town as she fears for her brother’s future.
BBC commissioning editor Danny Horan said he wanted the series – which begins airing on 14 February – “to create a debate” about social mobility and how much can be gained by interventions that help boost children’s confidence and broaden their horizons.”
He said the “longitudinal” series was “the kind of programme we’ve not done in a long time” but the best way “to see the effect and impact teachers and parents can have on helping out gifted children [so] the only way to show that is to film over a really long period of time”.
The BBC and Blast have discussed what would happen if audiences moved by the children’s plight get involved and contribute to their education. Although it would skew the series, Horan said it “would be an amazing thing for the children so obviously we wouldn’t deny them”.
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