Press Centre

Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    1 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 03 Jun 2015
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 23 2015 : Sat 30 May - Fri 05 Jun
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    Returning
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Tuesday 26 May 2015.
 
“I held Karina for the last time, gave her a kiss, told her I love her, then gave her back because I had to go...It was a feeling of helplessness, I was leaving my daughter. And there was nothing I could do about it.”
Paul Wright, searching for his daughter Karina
 
The award-winning documentary series returns to ITV for a brand new series, as presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reunite more family members with their missing loved ones.  
 
The fifth series of the hit show promises some of its most heart-wrenching stories yet with many firsts for the show, from a couple searching together for their son, to a mother who tells us how she had to give up her child not once but twice, to a father searching for his daughter.
 
This series takes on some of the most challenging searches so far, tracking down people in countries as diverse as Canada, South Africa, Germany and Croatia.  
 
Across six new episodes, Davina and Nicky bring family members together who have been separated for most of their lives. Some have spent years desperately trying to track down their loved ones in vain.  
 
Each relative is guided and supported through the emotional process of tracing the family they are so anxious to find. Many of the 12 searches take unpredictable turns, as fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and siblings don’t always get the news they were hoping for. But whilst there are painful truths along the way, the series witnesses how being reunited with long lost family can transform people’s lives. 
 
In episode one, we meet the show’s first ever couple searching for the child they gave up for adoption as childhood sweethearts and we follow a father searching for the daughter he was separated from when she was just a year old. 
 
Susan and Chris Ellerton are the first couple to approach Long Lost Family looking for a child that they gave up for adoption, as frightened, unmarried 15 and 16 year olds. Little could they have known that over 50 years later they would still be together. 
 
Now retired and living in Ontario, Canada, they have just celebrated fifty years of marriage and have a lifetime of happy memories together. They went on to have five more children but they’ve never forgotten their eldest son. Susan says: “He should have been part of our lives.” 
 
Both raised in Scunthorpe, Susan and Chris met at school and started going out as young teenagers but it was a massive shock when, aged only 14, Susan discovered she was pregnant. 
 
Susan says: “Mum felt that I’d brought shame on the family. It was a disgrace what we’d done. I got called down to the headmistress’s office and she said I was a slut.”
 
 
Chris says: “I couldn’t see that what we’d done was wrong or evil because it never seemed that way. But neither of us had finished school. It wasn’t as if either set of parents were saying, ‘We’ll keep this kid here, we’ll look after it’. Everybody just wanted to get it done with, forget about it and move on.” 
 
Their parents took control of the situation, organizing for the baby to be adopted. Susan was sent to a mother and baby home and it was a harrowing time for her.  Chris would make regular visits, trying to offer comfort, but he knew that there was nothing he could do to change the outcome.
 
On 17TH September 1962 Susan gave birth to a baby boy, whom the couple named Anthony.  Visiting the home for the first time since her pregnancy, Susan recalls the day that she parted with her son, just six weeks after his birth:
 
“It was an awful day. They kept saying, ‘It’s time now, it’s time to hand the baby over’. But I just kept hanging on, really tight. In the end, the nuns got hold of the baby very roughly and just pulled him away…I was heartbroken. I can remember just crying and crying.”
 
Devastated by watching Susan suffer, Chris was determined that he would always be there to support her. He explains that the trauma of the situation brought them even closer: 
 
“The ties that a mother has with a child…I just wanted to look after her….I think that’s probably why we stayed together.” 
 
Against the odds the pair went on to get married and in the years following went on to have five more children together (although one has sadly recently died). The family emigrated to Canada in 1981.
 
Since the day she had her son taken from her arms, Susan has been haunted by doubts about whether they did the right thing. She says:
 
“Are we going to live out our lives and never know? I need to know that he’s been okay, and that he forgives us for what we did.”
 
With the help of an adoption support agency, Long Lost Family tracks down Anthony, now renamed Andrew. Nicky Campbell travels to Peterborough, where Andrew lives, to give him the news that it’s not just his birth mother but both parents searching for him, and that they are still together. Andrew is astonished by the news: 
 
“Unbelievable…that has definitely knocked me for six…I can’t really get a grasp on it…all those years.” 
 
Davina McCall travels to Canada to meet Susan and Chris and tell them that their son has been found. Chris breaks down with raw emotion after 52 years of holding his feelings and fears inside and the pair are overwhelmed to learn that Andrew would like to meet them. 
 
Also this week, Paul Wright’s search for his daughter is the first search that Long Lost Family has done on behalf of a father looking for his child. Paul desperately wants her to know that it wasn’t his choice to leave her.
 
A civil servant and former soldier, 51-year-old Paul lives in Poole with his partner, Julie. Paul’s life is dominated by his need to find his daughter who he was forced to leave behind in Germany when she was only a year old. 
 
Paul grew up in West Yorkshire and as a teenager he joined the British army. Aged 18 he was stationed at an army base in the town of Hamelin in West Germany. Paul was one of over 50,000 British troops in West Germany during the 1980s as part of the West’s cold war defences.
 
During his time in the town Paul met and fell in love with a local German girl called Michelle.  They began a relationship and by the time Paul was 20 the couple discovered that she was pregnant. The initial shock quickly made way for excitement for Paul as he got used to the idea of being a father. 
 
On 5th June 1985 Michelle gave birth to a baby girl, whom they called Karina. Paul vividly remembers the day his little girl was born:
 
“The instant she was born this feeling came over me, of love…it was overwhelming.”
 
Over the coming months Paul spent all his spare time caring for Karina but just before his daughter turned one, he received some devastating news. Paul was being posted back to the UK with his regiment. His girlfriend was still young and didn’t want to leave her family, so Paul would have to go alone. He recalls: 
 
“It was, ‘You’re going back to England next week’. It was that quick. I said, ‘I’ve got a family’. But he said, ‘But you’re not married. It’s the way it is.’”
 
Paul made sure to keep contact with his German family, making a daily pilgrimage to the local phone box to talk to Michelle and find out how Karina was. But six months later Michelle stopped answering and instead her grandmother picked up the phone and told him that Michelle was married to someone else and he wasn’t to bother the family anymore.
 
Paul explains: “I just felt helpless, I would write letters, I would send Katrina parcels of clothes, because she was my daughter. But I never received letters back. That was it…Good or bad, you can look back at your life. Mine’s got this little piece taken out. It’s just missing.” 
 
Over the years Paul has never stopped thinking about his daughter and has done everything he can to discover where she is, but with no luck: 
 
“I do worry she may think I didn’t care, that I abandoned her. I want to know how her life has been, has she got children of her own? She’s 29 now and I left when she was one.”
 
After an in-depth search of local records in Germany, Long Lost Family eventually discovered that Karina’s name had been changed, when her mother got married, which is why Paul could not find her. Now 29, she lives in Hamelin with her two children and her fiancé.
 
Nicky travels to Germany and meets Karina in a local cafe. She is thrilled to hear that her father has come looking for her, after a lifetime as strangers. She explains that until age 13 she believed her stepfather was her real father and that she never received any of Paul’s letters or gifts, giving up hope that he was interested in seeing her. As Nicky reads Karina a letter from Paul she is moved to tears to hear how much he has loved her and that he has never stopped thinking of her.    
 
Davina tells Paul that his daughter has been found and he is utterly overwhelmed. Upon seeing a photo of his little girl grown into an adult he cannot conceal his happiness. Paul travels to Hamelin where he will finally see her again for the first time in 28 years.