Nick Hitchon Death, Obituary – Nick Hitchon, the son of a Yorkshire Dales farmer, passed away from cancer at the age of 65. He was featured as a youngster in the trailblazing documentary Seven Up!, which was produced for ITV’s hard-hitting current affairs programme World in Action in 1964. Nick Hitchon was a farmer’s son. His life was documented by filmmaker Michael Apted for a series of stand-alone catch-up programs that were shown sporadically over the following 55 years. He went on to become a nuclear fusion scientist and a professor at the University of Wisconsin.
The reticent young man from the countryside was discovered strolling down a road in Littondale, where he was encircled by fields and hidden from view by the massive overhanging limestone cliff known as Kilnsey Crag. When he was asked if he had a girlfriend, he gave an unforgettable response: “I don’t want to answer that. I don’t provide responses to queries of that nature.” The segment would be replayed at some point in each of the subsequent documentaries. Hitchon said this in a more predictive manner when he said, “When I grow up, I’d like to find out everything there is to know about the moon and all that.”
Tim Hewat, the original editor of World in Action and an Australian who was captivated by the British class structure, commissioned Seven Up! as a 40-minute special film in the Granada Television series. The program was inspired by the Jesuit proverb “give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” Michael Apted, who was the researcher on that first program, worked with Paul Almond, who was the director. Together, they worked to bring together a group of 14 seven-year-olds from different backgrounds with the intention, which was echoed in the voiceover, of giving “a glimpse of England in the year 2000” – which is when Granada would catch up with them. In the end, they were successful.
In 1964, Nicholas (Nick) Hitchon, then seven years old, was working on the farm his parents owned in Yorkshire.
Hitchon lived on the farm his parents owned in Yorkshire when he was seven years old. ITV/BritBox/Everett Collection images used with permission. Some of them were attending public schools, while others came from a children’s home. Others were enrolled in private schools, and among them were three young boys who were overheard singing Waltzing Matilda in Latin at a Kensington pre-prep school and reciting the universities that had been planned out for them.
But Apted had trouble locating a rural youngster willing to chat in front of the camera, so when he found Hitchon at the one-room Arncliffe Church of England Primary School, he made a few exceptions to the criteria so that he could include him, despite the fact that he was only six years old. Hitchon pondered the fact that, with the exception of his younger brother, he was the only boy in the hamlet of Hawkswick, which is where his family farmed.
Apted decided not to wait until the turn of the century before revisiting his subjects; instead, he did so in 1970 and then every seven years after that. Over time, the length of the programs increased as they became more in-depth portraits of the individuals’ lives. In 7 Plus Seven, he learned that Hitchon was attending boarding school in a Yorkshire grammar school, and that once he graduated, he had no intention of working on a farm. He stated, “I said that I was interested in physics and chemistry,” which I responded to by saying. “I’m not going to do that right here.”
Hitchon’s life path was well under way by the time he reached the age of 21 Up. His scientific dreams were realized when he attended Merton College, Oxford, to study physics. Frustrated by the earlier opinions of some viewers, he expressed his frustration to Apted by saying, “One of my friends had me pointed out to him as being destined to run the farm and being educationally pretty inept.”
In the end, it was determined that he was among the most accomplished students academically. In addition, he was first perceived as inwardly focused due to the fact that he grew up in a secluded setting; nonetheless, he stated, “I’ve tried to make a change, made a very conscious effort to be more outgoing.”