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The documentary filmmaker pays tribute to the late director Michael Apted


An actor whose life is featured in Michael Apted's documentary series Up paid tribute to the director as a "beacon" after his death at the age of 79.

Tony Walker, actor and London taxi driver, was chosen for the project by an elementary school in the East End in 1963 and became one of the most famous characters.

The Up series, which was originally directed by Paul Almond before being taken over by Apted in 1970, followed 14 children ages seven and up – a documentary was released every seven years.

Walker remained a lifelong friend of Apted and in 1999 attended the screenings of his later films, including James Bond's feature film The World Is Not Enough.

The 65-year-old taxi driver from Bethnal Green, east London said: “This week a beacon went out in the film industry with the death of Michael.

“We have suffered a loss that cannot be weighed and, above all, it is sadly missed. My love and condolences go to his family in California. & # 39;

Tony Walker (pictured), actor and London taxi driver, was chosen for the project by an East End elementary school in 1963 and became one of the most iconic characters

Walker remained a close friend of Michael Apted (pictured) throughout his life and in 1999 attended the screenings of his later films, including James Bond's feature film The World Is Not Enough

Walker remained a close friend of Michael Apted (pictured) throughout his life and in 1999 attended the screenings of his later films, including James Bond's feature film The World Is Not Enough

Up was originally planned as a one-off documentary for Granada Television that would interview children from different backgrounds over the years to examine the class structure of the country.

The final episode, 63 Up, aired in 2019.

Walker described Apted as "a very nice man, a very loyal man, a very trusting man on behalf of everyone in the Up series".

& # 39; He was more like family. Despite the seven-year hiatus (between films) he was always there, ”he added.

During his appearances on the series, Walker was open to the trials he faced in his marriage to wife Debbie.

It was revealed in 35 Up that they had lost the baby she had carried in the previous series, which put a strain on their relationship.

The British filmmaker was best known for making the documentaries Up, which followed the lives of 14 children since 1964, as well as directing Coal Miner & # 39; s Daughter and Gorillas In The Mist. Pictured: with wife Paige Simpson in 2012

Pictured: With Pierce Brosnan and Denise Richards

The British filmmaker was best known for making the documentaries Up, which followed the lives of 14 children since 1964, as well as directing Coal Miner & # 39; s Daughter and Gorillas In The Mist. Left: With wife Paige Simpson in 2012. Right: With Pierce Brosnan and Denise Richards

Pictured: Poses suitable for photos after being awarded the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2009

Pictured: Poses suitable for photos after being awarded the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2009

Commenting on his friendship with Apted, he added: “Personally, the trust we placed in him was like nothing in the world.

“When he puts you in front of this camera, it's like Catholicism. You speak to him without knowing that it is Michael.

“I feel so good and, above all, the confidence – he knows what he has in his hands. I have entrusted my life to him for 55 years. & # 39;

Walker said that while working as a London taxi driver, he picked up comedian John Cleese and actress Sigourney Weaver and bonded with both of them because of their mutual respect for Apted.

Apted's other directorial credits included Coal Miner & # 39; s Daughter in 1980 and Gorillas In The Mist in 1988.

He also directed The World Is Not Enough with Pierce Brosnan and a series of Coronation Street episodes in the 1960s.

Apted, who was President of the DGA from 2003 to 2009, was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in 1941 before moving to London with his father after World War II.

As a child he studied at the City of London School, where he first became interested in cinema.

Apted also directed the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, with Pierce Brosnan (pictured together on the set).

Apted also directed the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, with Pierce Brosnan (pictured together on the set).

Thomas Schlamme, President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), paid tribute to Apted on Friday (pictured 1994)

Thomas Schlamme, President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA), paid tribute to Apted on Friday (pictured 1994)

In 2008 he was named Companion of the Most Prestigious Order of Saints Michael and George in the Queen & # 39; s Birthday Honors for services to the British film and television industry.

He was also President of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) from 2003 to 2009.

What did Apted do?

  • Above
  • Coal Miner's Daughter
  • Gorillas in the fog
  • The world is Not Enough
  • pedigree
  • Unlocked
  • Bend the light
  • Chasing Mavericks
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Journey of the Dawn Treader
  • The 2006 FIFA World Cup film: The grand finale

He won four baftas, including three for Up. A tweet from the Film Academy said the organization was "very sorry to hear of director Michael Apted's death".

The producers of the James Bond film franchise recognized Apted's ability to "move easily and successfully between genres".

A Twitter post signed by Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli states: “We share the news of Michael Apted's death with a very heavy heart.

& # 39; He was a director of tremendous talent and reach, and unique in his ability to move effortlessly and successfully between all genres.

& # 39; He was loved by everyone who worked with him.

"We loved working with him on The World Is Not Enough and sending our love and support to his family, friends and colleagues."

The official Twitter page for the Oscars also acknowledged: “Director Michael Apted will be remembered for the groundbreaking documentary series“ Up ”.

"As a past President of the Directors Guild and Governor of the Academy, he also made many critically acclaimed feature films, from" Coal Miner's Daughter "to" The World Is Not Enough. "He will be missing."

Thomas Schlamme, President of the DGA, said: “Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the death of the esteemed director, longtime DGA leader and my friend Michael Apted.

“His legacy will forever be woven into the fabric of cinema and our guild.

"A fearless director-visionary and unparalleled guild leader, Michael saw things flow when others didn't, and we were all beneficiaries of his wisdom and lifelong commitment."

Apted became involved in Up – originally called Seven Up – after serving as assistant to director Paul Almond. One of his roles was raising the children who would be on the series.

He won four baftas, including three for Up. A tweet from the Film Academy said the organization was "very sorry to hear of director Michael Apted's death".

He won four baftas, including three for Up. A tweet from the Film Academy said the organization was "very sorry to hear of director Michael Apted's death".

Among them were three boys chosen from a prestigious prep school in Kensington, London, a girl from a working-class area in east London and a boy from a small farm in a tiny village in the Yorkshire Dales.

Up clearly illustrated the different lives that children from different walks of life led.

The black and white program started with the children playing in a zoo when a narrator explained: “We brought these children together because in 2000 we wanted to take a look at England.

"The shop steward and the managing director for 2000 are now seven years old."

The first show, an example of the ingrained influence of the class system, proved popular, but a follow-up series was not immediately discussed.

Instead, Apted was busy with other projects. He worked on Coronation Street in the early 1960s, as well as on the sitcoms The Dustbinmen and The Lovers.

Pictured: Robbie Coltrane, Pierce Brosnan, Denise Richards and Michael Apted

Pictured: Robbie Coltrane, Pierce Brosnan, Denise Richards and Michael Apted

It was around this time that the idea of ​​going back to the original Up children came up. 7 Plus Seven, directed by Apted, aired in December 1970.

His subjects were teenagers now, and gone was the zealous innocence of the original series. Apted later said it was the hardest part to film.

The differences between the children were now more pronounced – the affluent films that sauntered through their elite schools contrasted with their working class counterparts.

As the movie's original premise suggested, it was mostly easy to tell which direction each child's life was headed, even at 14.

By 2019, death, disease, and misfortune had hit the subject and the documentary had earned its place among the most famous and influential of all time.

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