Press Centre

Long Lost Family

  • Episode: 

    5 of 7

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 23 Aug 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 34 2017 : Sat 19 Aug - Fri 25 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 15 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 5
 
“I feel a bond with John even though we’ve never met, he’s out there somewhere, he was a family secret and back then I think secrets remained secret.”
 
Richard Beckley, searching for his brother  
 
Episode Five features two stories of lives turned upside down by unexpected revelations: A man longing to find the brother his mum never told him about, and a woman searching for the father she fears may not want to be found.
 
Our first search is behalf of a man who is desperate to find the brother who’s been missing from the family for nearly 60 years. 
 
53-year-old policeman Richard Beckley lives in in Sutton with his wife Karen. He grew up with his parents Margaret and Arthur on a farm in Kent, the youngest of three siblings. But in 2002, six years after his mother passed away, everything Richard thought he knew about her was turned on its head. 
 
Richard’s uncle Frank revealed that Richard had two half siblings he had never known about. In 1943 Richard’s mum Margaret had given birth to a daughter Jenny, and then six years later in 1949 to a son, John. Like many unmarried mothers at the time, she had to give both children up for adoption. “It was just staggering because I knew my mum, I thought I knew everything about her…” – says Richard. 
 
But Richard’s uncle had another revelation. He revealed that Jenny had contacted Richard’s mum in 1984 but his mother made the decision she wasn’t going to meet with Jenny. “It must have absolutely broken her heart to keep that secret.” – says Richard. 
Other than his name and date of birth, there was no information about John. But Richard and his siblings did have a lead for Jenny – Uncle Frank knew her surname from when she had been in touch twenty years earlier. And they found Jenny living near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire. 
 
Although Margaret hadn’t felt able to meet Jenny, she did explain why in a letter. ‘…I have given this much thought and do feel that the possibility of meeting could not be considered as this would only be done by deceiving my husband and family.’
Despite searching for 14 years, Richard’s no closer to finding their missing brother: “It’s been wonderful having Jenny and her family in our lives, but we know nothing about John whatsoever.”
 
In almost all cases when a baby is adopted they’re given a new identity, what we needed was John’s new surname. But because of the need to protect the identity of adopted children, the only way we could find this was by working with a specialist intermediary legally allowed to access records. We were told John had been adopted by the Nicklin family in Manchester, but after 1968 we couldn’t find any record of them. Then we had a breakthrough, John had an older sister Doreen. We traced her and she gave us John’s new address in Brisbane, Australia. 
 
John had emigrated when he was 19. Now widowed, he works as a handyman. Nicky goes to meet John in his family home where John reveals that he had never searched for his birth family because he had been told that his birth parents had died in a car crash. Nicky breaks the news to John that is it not only Richard searching and that John also has another brother and two sisters. “I can’t believe it, I thought I was the only one in the world… I certainly can’t wait to see them and give them a big hug” – says John. 
Davina travels to Richard’s home to tell him the news that John has been found. “I didn’t expect that… it makes searching worth it because what he was told.” – says John. 
“He looks really familiar, he looks like a member of the family… I can’t wait to meet him.”
 
John makes the 10,000 mile journey from Brisbane to London to meet Richard and his siblings and complete the family. Richard and Jenny are joined by their other siblings at a hotel close to Richards home where they’ll be reunited with their brother. 
“I felt an incredible connection with John when we met, from the moment he walked in it’s like I’ve known him all my life.” – says Richard. 
“I’m very happy, he didn’t feel a stranger… I feel like his big sister.” – says Jenny.
“The first instincts when I met them all was I belong here, they felt like family, and they are family.” – says John. 
 
--
 
Our second search comes from country Durham and a woman longing for the father she’s never met.  
 
“I don’t know who he is, I don’t know where he is but this gives me hope that he’s out there somewhere.” – says Kelly.
 
Paediatric nurse Kelly Anderson-Laybourne lives in Seaham with her husband Steve and two children. Kelly grew up as the eldest of five siblings but when she was 15 the man she had always thought of as her father made a revelation that would change her life: “He sat me down at the breakfast bar and told me that he wasn’t my dad… everything fell into place because I just always felt different to my brothers and sisters.”
 
Kelly’s mum Joanne explained Kelly’s real father was a man called Richard who she met as a teenager. Kelly’s mum had met Richard in the summer of 1980 when they were both working together in a hotel Campbeltown on the west coast of Scotland. But when the summer ended, so did Richard’s job and he returned to his family in London. The couple kept in touch by phone but in the era before mobiles it proved increasingly difficult. Shortly after Richard left, Joanne realised she was pregnant. For 20 years Kelly has longed to find her real dad, but she always wondered if he chose to walk away from her life. 
 
Now in his 50s Richard lives just 30 miles away from Kelly. Nicky meets Richard at his home. “I’m really sad for her… I really wish I had known then… I can’t wait to meet her and try make up for lost time.” – says Richard. 
 
Three weeks after we told Kelly Long Lost Family found her father, Kelly is going to meet him for the first time, and both are full of nerves and excitement. “This is one of the most important things I’ve ever done and I never thought that it would happen… I have been waiting a really long time for this… its life changing.” – says Kelly. 
 
Their meeting takes place at a hotel in the centre of Newcastle, directly between where they both live. 
 
As soon as they set eyes on each other they embrace and Kelly can finally reach out and hug her father – after 35 years having only seen a picture. 
 
“I felt very much like she was my daughter, I felt like her father… and from now on that’s what it’s going to be like.” – says Richard.  “I’m so happy to actually meet my dad, it just means everything.” – says Kelly.