Press Centre

Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    2 of 7

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 02 Aug 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 31 2017 : Sat 29 Jul - Fri 04 Aug
  • Channel: 

    ITV
The information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 25 July 2017.
 
Series overview
 
Award-winning documentary series Long Lost Family returns to ITV for a brand new seven-part series, as presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reunite more family members desperate to find their missing relatives.
 
For thousands of people across Britain, someone is missing from their lives and finding them can seem like an impossible task. Using every technique, from DNA technology to painstaking detective work, the series traces people that no-one else could find, uncovering family secrets and finally answering questions that have haunted entire lives. 
 
With searches extending to Nigeria, Ethiopia, America and Australia, no stone is left unturned as Davina and Nicky bring families back together. 
 
Sadly, not every story can have a happy ending and there are some tragic outcomes. But even when missing family members have passed away, our searchers have been comforted by meeting other family members we’ve discovered. 
 
The new series includes many firsts, including the programme’s first deaf contributor and the first time we’ve ever taken on a search on behalf of a  birth father searching on his own for a child who was given up for adoption. 
 
Episode 2
 
 
Episode Two features two stories of people’s lives torn apart by circumstances beyond their control:   Our first ever search on behalf of a birth father searching alone for an adopted child; and a woman raised in children’s homes longing to find her mother.
 
Andy McNicol lives in Walsall with Hazel, his wife of 45 years.  Now retired, Andy and Hazel have devoted much of their life to fostering children but there is one person missing from the family album, John, the son who Andy had before he met Hazel.
 
Andy had met John’s mother, Brenda, in the 1970s.  Two years into their relationship, Brenda discovered she was pregnant. When her parents found out, they hoped Andy would marry Brenda but Andy wasn’t free to marry as he was still in the process of a divorce.  Sadly, Brenda broke off all contact with Andy.  
 
After hearing Brenda had given birth, Andy went straight to the hospital to see the baby but was not allowed into the ward.  He remembers looking through the glass into the nursery and seeing his baby son wrapped up, with his red hair sticking out.  Andy never saw his son again and against his wishes, John was put up for adoption. 
 
Andy says “I felt so helpless… saddest day of my life without a doubt”. 
Andy was devastated to learn that he wasn’t even on John’s birth certificate and has never given up hope to find his son. 
Andy says “I want to tell him – I didn’t leave you, you were given away son, if I had my way it would have never of happened”. 
 
Long Lost Family used a specialist intermediary to search for John. We discovered he was still called John and had grown up in Weston-Super-Mare.   After 2013, we could not find any record of him living in the UK but after extensive searching, we tracked him down, living on the other side of the world in Australia. 
 
Nicky meets John at his home in New South Wales and is gobsmacked to discover that his father was looking for him. 
John says “Just knowing that he wanted to be a father makes a big difference”.  
Davina travels to Walsall to let Andy know his son has been found. In an emotional reveal, Andy’s flabbergasted by the news and feels like they can have a new start. 
After more than 46 years apart, Andy and John are re-united just outside Bath, the city where John was born. 
 
John says “Just for him to walk in and call him my son… best day of my life without a doubt.” 
Also this week we meet Mary Davies, a woman longing to find her birth mother after a childhood spent in care.  Mary was born to an Irish mother, Bernadette Sweeney, and had spent the first six weeks of her life with Bernadette in a home for unmarried mothers in North London.  
 
Mary says “I was always the deaf child, I felt lonely and left out… I wish my mother had kept me as a baby… I want to find her.” 
When she was six weeks old Mary was placed with an adoptive family, but her adoption soon ran into trouble.  Mary’s hearing started to deteriorate and her new parents decided they couldn’t cope with a deaf child.  After only three months, they sent Mary back.  However, when Mary was seven her life changed and she was fostered by a couple who had a deaf daughter. Mary went on to marry, but as her own family has grown so has her need to find her mother. 
 
Mary began searching for her mother 15 years ago and last year she finally had a breakthrough. She discovered that Bernadette had another daughter called Shirley, five years after Mary was born.  Mary had not been able to find any further trace of Bernadette or Shirley and remains wondering whether her mother has told her sister about her. 
Mary says “I feel scared I might be a secret, if I found my mother and half-sister my heart would be full”.
 
The last record we had of Mary’s mother Bernadette she was living in London in the 1960s with her daughter Shirley so that’s where we started our search.   After finding no trace of Bernadette and Shirley, we decided to search in the country where Bernadette was born, Ireland.  We knew that she came from Sligo, so that was where we focused our attention. But our searches for them there also drew a blank.  Our next step was to look for siblings who might know of their whereabouts. 
 
After six months we had a breakthrough and discovered that Bernadette had a brother, Kieran.  He had passed away but we were able to trace his widow.  Sadly, she broke the tragic news that Bernadette had passed away in 2007 so we were now desperate to find her half-sister Shirley. Using new information from Kieran’s widow, we were able to trace Shirley on social media. 
 
Nicky meets Shirley in Kilburn, close to where she and Bernadette once lived, and learns that she was not the only sibling.  Bernadette had four other children. 
Shirley explains to Nicky that she did not know Mary existed until contacted by our intermediary.  Now knowing about her sister, Shirley explains that this makes sense of an incident in her past.  Shirley tells Nicky that she herself got pregnant at the age of 16 and was planning to give her child up for adoption but Bernadette was adamant that this should not happen.  
 
Shirley says “she didn’t want me to go through the same pain she carried with her.” 
Shirley is moved to learn of Mary’s difficult childhood and determined to learn sign language to communicate with her new sister. 
 
Shirley says “I can’t wait to meet her, she belongs with us, I don’t know her and I love her, and I’ll learn that in sign and tell her.”
 
Mary is told away from the cameras that her mother has passed away.  Davina goes to meet Mary to break the news that her sister has been found and greets Mary in sign language, having learned to sign “Hi, my name is Davina”. 
 
Davina shows Mary a photo of her mother and informs her of her other siblings.   Davina also tells Mary that Shirley didn’t know about her but is so excited to meet her. 
 
The sisters meet at a pub, close to the site of the mother and baby home where Mary was last with their mother Bernadette.  A translator is also there. 
Shirley invites Mary to Ireland to meet the rest of her siblings.
Mary says “I can feel she’s definitely my sister and I feel happy being part of a big family.”