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Growing Up Gifted, BBC2, review: wonderful documentary about education and the passing of time



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Two years after the previous series, the cameras returned to check in on the six teenagers as they prepare to sit their GCSEs

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 10:00 pm

Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 10:01 pmLiam from Growing Up Gifted wants to be a doctor (Photo: BBC Two)

Growing Up Gifted, BBC2, 9pm ★★★★

Two years after the previous instalment of Growing Up Gifted, the cameras are back to check in on the six teenagers as they prepare to sit their GCSEs.

First up were the boys: Kian from Hartlepool, Liam from Newcastle and Jamarley from London. Each of them was struggling to meet expectations. Slipping up now would likely cost them their place at college and with that their hopes of becoming, respectively, a theoretical physicist, a doctor and a music producer.

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This wonderful documentary series has never really been about education, though. It is about time and how the passing of time alters people; how it carries some of us forward and leaves others behind.

Kian’s father, a factory worker, sat his son down on results day and told him, his voice catching: “I’m over the moon for you, I really am. You’ve done better than I did.”

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All three of the boys come from financially stretched homes. The determination of the parents to ensure their sons have the opportunity to do more was striking. Jamarley’s mother worked tirelessly to pay for the computer he needs. “There’s nothing that my son can’t do,” she said.

Children are always reflected in and bound to their parents, while being separated by decades. Time has been used up by the latter; it remains untouched by the former. So it was both hopeful and sobering to watch as these three young men lay the foundations for the years – the time – ahead of them.

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