Press Centre

Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    4 of 7

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 16 Aug 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 33 2017 : Sat 12 Aug - Fri 18 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 8 August 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 4
 
Episode Four features two people searching for answers to family secrets: A woman who only discovered she had an older sister two years ago and a man desperate to find the father he’s never met. 
 
Our first story comes from Hertfordshire and a woman searching for the sister she didn’t know existed for 50 years. 
 
Alison Holderness, lives in Stevenage and was the only child of Bill and Barbara.  Alison’s mother Barbara died in 1996 and her father Bill in 2015.  It was only then that Alison made an extraordinary discovery. She found a wallet which contained some photos which she hadn’t seen before. On the back of the photos it said Amanda and a date of 1951.  Alison realised the photos were of her mum’s baby – Alison’s half-sister. 
 
Alison discovered a letter among her mother’s belongings that helped her piece together what had happened.  Written by the baby’s father, a student at Oxford university, it revealed they were torn over the baby’s future, who they affectionately called ‘bump’.  Alison’s mother made the heart-breaking decision to give Amanda up for adoption.
Alison says “I’ve got to find her and I need to know my mum made the right decision.”
When she was adopted, Amanda’s name would have been changed, so to find out her new name we worked with a professional intermediary legally allowed to access these records.  
 
Amanda was now called Elizabeth Jane Furzey, but there was no trace of her anywhere so we decided to search for Elizabeth’s adoptive parents instead.  They’d both passed away, so we published an appeal in their local paper and a family friend came forward with vital new information about Elizabeth.  Elizabeth was known by her middle name Jane and our searches over here had drawn a blank because she was now living abroad in Ethiopia. 
Nicky travels to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia in East Africa.  We had discovered Jane had been working as a teacher in Addis but couldn’t find any up to date contact details for her.  We put the word out to the ex-pat community that we were looking for her and had a breakthrough.  A woman came forward and told us that her son had been taught by Jane and she put us in touch. 
 
Nicky meets Jane at her home on the outskirts of the city.  Jane, who also grew up as an only child, is moved to see the photo of herself as a baby with her birth mother.  
Jane says “It’s very sad that I shall never actually get to meet her but I think I’m going to be just as pleased to meet Alison…I’m just so, so happy and pleased that she came looking for me. Alison’s an only one and I’m an only one. So now we’re not only ones!”
Davina travels to Alison’s home in Stevenage to let her know the news her sister has been found. Alison is overwhelmed with excitement that Jane wants to meet with her. 
The sisters meet at a country hotel just outside of Oxford, the city where their mother Barbara grew up. 
 
Alison says “Immediately she went from being a stranger to just being my sister, part of me, part of the family… I just want to hug her and hold her… I will be the best little sister I can.” 
 
Jane says “I feel like without realising it, my whole life I’ve been waiting for this day to meet my sister Alison… that feels fantastic.” 
 
Also this week we meet John Ayton, desperate to find his birth father.  It was only when John was 13 that he accidently discovered that he was adopted.  Signing up for his local football team, he was asked to bring his birth certificate as proof of age.  His coach read out he was adopted. 
 
John says “Reality changed that day for me, I remember thinking ‘where are my real parents? Why am I not with them?” 
 
Looking for answers, John applied for his adoption file.  Armed with basic information from the file, John started to search for his birth parents.   At a library in Huddersfield he combed through birth, marriage and death records and, after several weeks, made a breakthrough - his birth mother Marlene had died at the age of 19.  John has continued to search for his father but with only scraps of information to search with, John has been unable to trace him.   
 
John says “He’s my father, I want him to say you’re my child and accept me… I’ve always needed that connection, a sense of belonging and I just hope that he’s got some love in his heart for me.” 
 
When John came to Long Lost Family the only facts he knew were his father’s name and that he’d been aged 22 when John was born in 1959.  So we started searching for a Kenneth Harrison born around 1937, but that brought up over a thousand matches.  We turned our attention to Manchester, the area where Kenneth was living at the time of John’s birth, and began to trawl through birth, death and marriage records. 
 
It took us over 18 months until finally we found someone we thought might be him - a Kenneth J. Harrison who was born in Stockport in 1936.  This Kenneth had passed away more than 10 years ago, so we had no way of knowing if we found the right person.  However, we did know he had other children, a daughter now living in Bulgaria and a son, Stephen.  The only way to be certain if we had found the right Kenneth Harrison was to ask Stephen to take a DNA test.
 
We contacted Stephen and he agreed to take a DNA test.  Nicky travels to Stephen’s house to bring him the results of the DNA test.  A letter confirms the results of the DNA testing that Stephen and John are half-brothers, sharing the same father. 
Stephen says “Wow, it has blown me away, I can’t believe I have an older brother.” 
John is told the sad news about his father away from the cameras.  Davina travels to John’s home to tell him he has a half-brother and sister. 
 
John meets Stephen at his favourite pub in the Yorkshire Dales. 
Stephen says “Straight away it was just family, I feel like I’ve always known him… I’m getting married very soon, I’ve actually reserved two seats for John…” 
 
John says “I just wanted some feeling of belonging and it’s really nice to call somebody brother…” 
 
Produced by Wall to Wall (a warner Bros Television Production UK Ltd company), for ITV.