Three Identical Strangers: A stranger than fiction real life story

A new documentary tells the remarkable story of reunited triplets who were separated at birth as part of a study that had heartbreaking consequences.

Triplets Robbie, David and Eddy were separated at birth as part of a psychological 'nature versus nurture' experiment in 1960s America by a New York psychiatrist named Peter Neubauer.

The triplets were closely monitored throughout their lives, but neither the boys nor the families that adopted them knew they were triplets.

The brothers found each other in 1980; by fluke two of them ended up at the same university. After their amazing story was picked up by local newspapers, they were reunited with another brother. The twins, were actually triplets.

The reunited brothers became media sensations, their story gripping America and the world.

But the happiness they felt at been brought together was not to last.

Eddie died in 1995 aged just 33.

It has taken the surviving brothers decades to agree to tell their story for, Three Identical Strangers. And it is a very different tale to the exhilarating one of nearly 40 years ago.

"Our life story has got its highs and its lows and its losses," Roberts says.

The findings of the study have never been published.

The surviving brothers are angry that the experiment seems to have been for nothing.

"You can't turn back the clock, I think they're are definitely steps that can be taken that would help us come to terms, for one thing if the study was used and some good came of it," David said.

Robert is more forthright. He told ITV News: "The idea of collecting all this data and then publishing something that you've learned about it that's useful, after exploiting these people for the purpose this study.

"Or never publishing this study. Never even getting anything out of it. Now you've messed with people's life, and you've got no useful purpose for it."

The brothers' story is the subject of Three Identical Strangers, which has already broken box office records in the US.

Director Tim Wardle says the film - and the original study - try and answer the ultimate universal question.

"Nature/nurture was an obsession in the 60s, everyone was talking about it, and it goes in and out of fashion," he says.

"But it is a universal question: what makes us who we are?

"Is it our families and our upbringing, or is it our genetics that we're born with?"