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28 Up South Africa

Wed Dec 4, 10.35pm-12midnight, ITV

The UK’s ‘Up’ franchise – checking in with the same group of people every seven years from the age of seven – demonstrated how difficult it can be to transcend the circumstances of your childhood. This South African version proves that the same applies across the world.

The kids born in poverty remain there, fearful of crime (‘I hate getting shot at when I’ve done nothing wrong’) and the ravages of HIV. The privileged waft around in wealthy society. And the middle classes carve out a slightly discontented niche somewhere in between. The general air is one of disappointment, with only farmboy Willem really surpassing himself by becoming a fixture in the Springboks rugby team.

Of course, South Africa’s uniquely dismal history casts a shadow over everything, and it’s notable that, however loudly and reasonably the participants protest, race still colours attitudes of black and white some two decades after the demise of Apartheid. Some of the consequences revealed in tonight's instalment are achingly sad. This extraordinary format continues to provide insights beyond the reach of most documentaries. Long may it run.

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