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Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell return to ITV to present a brand new series of Long Lost Family, the award-winning show which traces and reunites families who have been apart for most of their lives.
Series three features eight heart-warming new episodes, helping mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers find the loved ones they have been desperately trying to find.
Taking on the most challenging and unpredictable searches yet Long Lost Family journeys across the world to bring families together – from Spain and Northern Ireland to New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and America. With the help and support of Davina and Nicky, each relative is guided and supported through the emotional and heart-rending process of tracing their long-lost loved ones.
Davina said: “I love watching this series as it goes out on telly because I finally get a chance to have a really good weep – whilst filming I have to really hold it in. Our contributors share their amazing stories and heart-breaking losses and it’s such an honour to be part of the programme that helps them find resolution.”
Nicky added: “In this third series we’ve taken on some of the most difficult and complex searches yet. We’re telling some truly emotional tales but also tales with incredible twists which have taken us to the other side of the planet looking for people’s long lost families.”
In each episode ITV viewers are taken on a moving journey, from the revealing moment relatives are told their loved one has been traced, to the raw moment of the reunion which, in many cases, would only ever have happened in their wildest dreams. Long Lost Family explores the background and social context of each family’s estrangement and why it occurred.
Many of the people featured in the series were adopted or gave children up for adoption when they were younger. During production of Long Lost Family, producers Wall to Wall worked closely with adoption expert Ariel Bruce, a Registered Independent Social Worker who specialises in tracing people affected by adoption. She also helps to trace people who have lost touch as a result of emigration, divorce or other family separations. The protocol devised and worked to throughout the making of Long Lost Family complied with current adoption legislation and was modelled on the protocols and best practice that leading Ofsted-inspected adoption support agencies work to when searching for, contacting, reuniting and supporting adopted people and birth relatives.
Adoption is personal territory for Nicky Campbell, who was adopted as a child, before searching for and being reunited with his birth mother and father as an adult. Nicky is a patron of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
Alan Ross-Harper and Patricia Green
Fireman Alan Ross-Harper is searching for his birth mother who gave him up for adoption in 1958. All he has to cling onto is his adoption file which gives a few details of the mother he is desperate to find.
Alan, who lives with his son and partner, Elaine, found out that he was adopted when he was twelve years old. He was told he was special and chosen, and he remembers having a very happy childhood.
Alan tells the programme that it was only when he got married and his wife gave birth to their first child that it really hit home what his birth mother must have gone through when she gave him up.
He says: “It’s just this immediate overwhelming love coming straight out, and protection straight out, and I just thought to myself that my birth mother must have had that. I can’t believe that she didn’t.”
Alan says that as time went on, and his own family grew, so too did his desire to find his birth mother and uncover the truth about why she had given him up.
Long Lost Family explains that once they have reached the age of eighteen, a child who has been adopted is legally entitled to access his or her adoption file. The files usually contain scant information about the place of birth and the name of the birth mother.
However, Alan was shocked at the amount of information in his file which revealed not only his mother’s name and age but also, unusually, the name of his father. The social worker’s report also went on to describe how the decision to give their baby up for adoption was very much influenced by Alan’s birth father. It also stated that this decision could damage any long-term relationship his mother and father hoped to have.
After discovering this information, Alan did everything he could to track his mother down. His first thought was that she might have gone on to marry his birth father but he could find no trace of this.
Alan explains how he was forced to end his search when his wife became ill with a brain tumour. He looked after her for nine years before she died. Alan adds that after his wife’s death family seemed even more important.
He adds: “I feel now the time is right. I need to know from her the truth, did she love me at the time? Or did she feel as though I was a mistake and that I just had to be dealt with? I just want to know her true feelings at the time and what she was going through.”
Long Lost Family’s search for Alan’s mum was long and difficult but eventually she was traced to New Zealand where she lives. Incredibly, the search also revealed a first for Long Lost Family, Alan’s birth mother went on to marry, and is still married, to his birth father and they have a daughter, Alan’s sister, Jackie.
Nicky visits the family to tell them of Alan’s search and Alan’s mum reveals that she has never stopped thinking about Alan.
The programme is with Alan when Davina visits him to reveal that his parents are still together and he is overjoyed to discover he has a sister.
Long Lost Family is with the family at the emotional moment when they are all finally reunited.
Susan Udy and Andrea Pepler
Sixty eight year old Susan Udy is searching for her daughter who she gave up for adoption when she was 21. For almost fifty years Sue has carried the pain of this with her and has held onto the hope that she would one day find her daughter. More than anything she is desperate to know that she has had a better life than the one she could offer her.
Susan, who now lives with her husband in a small Devonshire village, tells Long Lost Family of her difficult upbringing in the 1950s. Her authoritarian father cast a dark shadow over her home life so when she met a good looking man in a military uniform she was swept away. The two quickly became an item.
She says: “We hit it off straight away, just like wildfire really. It was complete passion. He just knew how to treat a girl and make her feel so very special.”
It wasn’t long, however, before Susan discovered her boyfriend was in fact married with three children. Though shocked at first, he reassured Susan that he was separated from his wife and that the two had a future together. Susan’s father, on the other hand, was less accepting. On finding out her boyfriend was a married man, he disowned his daughter, packed her bags, and sent her away.
Undeterred and following her heart, Susan tells the series that she ran away to Bristol with her boyfriend, settling happily into a rented flat together. Just six months later Susan discovered she was pregnant. However, her hopes for a future together were dashed when she told her boyfriend the news. Refusing to contemplate a future together as a family, once again Susan’s bags were packed and she was driven to a mother and baby home where she was left on the doorstep. She never saw her boyfriend again.
Alone in the world and without her parents to turn to for support, Susan felt there was only one option open to her.
She tells the programme: “I had no job, no home, no future. I just knew the whole way through the pregnancy there was no other option than to have the baby adopted. There was no other way. The day I actually had to leave her was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”
Shortly before her death, Susan’s mother expressed remorse that she hadn’t been able to support her daughter through her ordeal. She gave Susan her engagement ring asking her to give it to her daughter, who Susan had named Kerry, if she ever managed to find her. Susan carried the ring with her in the hope that one day she would be reunited with Kerry.
Long Lost Family manages to trace Kerry, discovering that her name had been changed to Andrea. Nicky visits Andrea at her home in Bristol, just a few miles from the hospital in which she was born. The search comes as a complete shock to Andrea, who had a wonderful adoption and never felt there was anything missing in her life. On reading the letter Susan has written to Andrea, she begins to recognise a desire she never knew she had.
Andrea has a fantastic relationship with her adoptive mother who fully supported her decision to meet her birth mother. She is interviewed for the programme and says: “I said to her, ‘I feel it’s put something into your life that you were missing and didn’t realise you were missing.’”
The programme is with Susan when Davina visits her to tell her the news that Andrea has been found. Visibly relieved that Andrea had a happy adoption, Susan is overjoyed at the prospect of being able to finally give her the ring that she has carried with her all these years.
Long Lost Family is with Susan and Andrea when they are finally reunited.
Long Lost Family is made by Wall to Wall for ITV.