Growing Up Gifted – BBC2

Talented teens try to overcome personal battles to succeed in Growing Up Gifted

Talented teens try to overcome personal battles to succeed in Growing Up Gifted

The compelling follow-up to Seven Up-style documentary Generation Gifted, tracking the lives of six bright teens from disadvantaged backgrounds, begins tonight with a moving catch-up with the three boys.

It’s a year on and all the gifted teens are desperate for a route out of poverty.

But as they reach 14 and 15 and hurtle towards their GCSEs, Jamarley (pictured top) finds out his dad has been caught in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting, while Kian continues to be the target for bullies, and Liam struggles to come out as gay to his family.

You’ll find yourself rooting for them all, as they refuse to let their challenging circumstances get in the way of their future success.

TV Times rating: ***** 

Executive producer Sacha Baveystock tells TV Times how the children are coping with the pressures of their teenage years and looming GCSE exams…

What sort of reaction did you have from the last series?

A lot of people were very moved by the children’s difficulties and there were quite a lot who wanted to help. It definitely touched people’s hearts.

What kind of challenges are the children facing this time?

They’re 14 and 15 now and some of the things they’re experiencing are classic teenage conundrums. All teens go through issues of identity, whether rich or poor, but these kids often have less of a support system. For example, Liam is going on a journey towards coming out as gay. But it’s more exposing for him because he doesn’t have a dad around.

Do we see how their backgrounds affect their potential to do well?

Opportunities are certainly hard-won, and poverty has a knock-on effect. Jamarley can’t study in his bedroom because there’s been a water leak from the flat upstairs.

All these kids have the potential to do very well if they were in the right set of circumstances – if they were in well-off households where there were plenty of resources I’m sure it would be an easier path.

So what’s the solution?

Mentoring and support make a huge difference. Some of the kids have amazing teachers who give them that support and that really helps.

But sometimes outside factors come into play – we see how Jada has to take a GCSE early because her Spanish teacher has left and her school can’t attract another one to inner-city Birmingham. Nobody wants that job.

Was filming ever a challenge?

Yes! We were hugely dependent on the goodwill of the schools, the kids’ families and the
kids themselves.

It’s pretty intimate and the kids don’t always feel super-enthused by filming. But they’ve all kept going with it so far, which is amazing!