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'What are the McCanns really like?'

It's the togetherness that strikes you first.

Sitting side by side - hands clasped - Gerry and Kate McCann are constantly looking at one another, nodding in agreement, chipping in with comments - utterly supportive of each other throughout their ordeal.

Statistics tell you that bereaved parents are more likely than not to separate. The corrosive nature of grief rips apart rather than unites. But they refuse to be bowed by statistics.

As Gerry says:

We're still very much a family; it's just a very important member is not with us at the minute.

I've been interviewing the McCanns about Madeleine for five years now. Every May 3rd a grim anniversary.

One, two, three years missing...What would've been her 5th birthday...And, this time last year, marking the day Madeleine had spent more time away from her parents than with them.

The last photo of Madeleine McCann before she disappeared.

How on earth do Gerry and Kate remain forward looking and positive after five years of not knowing what's happened to their little girl?

In those first panic-stricken days after she vanished, they would have been forgiven for thinking life couldn't get any worse.

And yet it did: accused, suspected, arrested in Portugal.

Even at home you don't have to trawl far to uncover a highly vocal anti-McCann feeling out there: "They shouldn't have left her", "they deserved to lose her", even "they did it".

Why the vitriol about a couple who made a simple - but devastating - mistake? They thought Madeleine was safe - but she wasn't. They failed to spot the risk in a sunny care-free holiday environment.

Gerry and Kate McCann said they were 'hopeful' of finding Madeleine. Credit: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Their daughter vanished and the acid blame has flowed ever since.

How do they keep so apparently calm and constructive? It's a question that perplexes the public: why don't they weep and beg, and blame? It's a question I get asked almost more than any other about my work: "What are the McCanns really like?"

In Kate's words:

You can't know what it's like to be us, to walk in our shoes. You can't know how you would behave if it was you.

God forbid that any of us should find out.

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