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Long Lost Family Born Without Trace

  • Episode:

    1 of 3

  • Transmission (TX):

    Mon 24 May 2021

  • TX Confirmed


  • Time

    9.00pm - 10.00pm

  • Week:

    Week 21 2021 : Sat 22 May - Fri 28 May

  • Channel:


  • Published:

    Wed 12 May 2021

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Long Lost Family: Born Without Trace

Series overview

The BAFTA-nominated programme returns for a third series, as presenters Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell reveal more astonishing stories of foundlings desperate to discover their identities and meet birth family, after a lifetime of not knowing where they came from.

Foundlings are people abandoned as babies, often in the first hours and days of their lives.  Born without trace, with no birth record or name, until now they have been unable to solve the ultimate mystery of their lives – who they are.

Over the last four years, the team behind Long Lost Family has combined cutting-edge genetic genealogy with DNA testing technology to try to help more than 30 foundlings unlock the secrets of their past.

The stories in this brand new series span five decades: from a woman left over 70 years ago on a luggage rack of a train in Paddington station, to a young man left in toilets near a football stadium in Wolverhampton as recently as 1989.

Episode 1

Episode one features two foundlings abandoned in Chesterfield just over 18 months apart in the 1980s, Helen Knox and Victoria Vardy.

On a cold, frosty morning in December 1988 Helen Knox, then just a few hours old, was discovered in a box outside a hospital. Her parents saw her story on the local news and agreed to adopt her. She had a happy upbringing and is now engaged with two children of her own.

But she’s always struggled with not knowing anything about her very beginnings. She says: “I don't know what the first few hours of my life were like, where I was and who I was with, who left me there.”

The only keepsakes Helen has to hold onto are the hospital name tag she was given as a baby for ‘Gill Scarsdale,’ named after the nurse who looked after her and the hospital where she was left, and some photos of her taken with the maternity nurses.

The search team traces two of these nurses, Gill and Susan, and Helen is reunited with them for the first time in over 30 years. It’s an emotional meeting and they share their memories of her first days. But Helen is left with burning questions. She says: “I still want to know where I come from and who my birth parents are and why they left me”.

Meanwhile another foundling, Victoria Vardy, who incredibly was also left in Chesterfield a year and a half before Helen, has also approached the programme for help to find her birth family.

She was left just a few hundred metres from Helen in a department store stairwell in Elder Way and 33 years on, she returns to the stairwell and reflects on the situation her birth mother must have been in. “To leave a baby in a department store on a busy Saturday morning, you’ve got to be desperate. Why? I’ve no idea.”

Victoria had a very happy adoption and now has a daughter of her own. But despite a nationwide media appeal for any information nearly ten years ago, Victoria is still no further to knowing answers. The only clues she has are the holdall and clothes that she was left in and the news reports from the time. These reports mention a bus ticket found in the bag showing that an adult and child had travelled together; Victoria wonders, “Could it have been that my mum was the adult and the child is a sibling?”

Only a handful of babies are abandoned each year in the UK, so with two baby girls left in close proximity in the same town and with only a year-and-a-half between them, the team investigate whether there could be a connection.

But what they uncover takes everyone by surprise and ultimately one of the most emotional reunions in the programme’s history…