This TV host has a passion for digging, writes Sheryl-Lee Kerr, and he’s dug up some interesting secrets in his show.
WHO’S BEEN SLEEPING IN MY HOUSE
Friday, 8pm, ABC1
ADAM Ford can vividly recall his very first archaeological find.
It involved a medieval site excavation and a monk’s finger bone. Oh yes – and he was only seven at the time.
The host of Who’s Been
Sleeping In My House says his big sister, archaeologist and occasional Time Team expert Deb Klemperer, had allowed him to come along to her first dig in the English Midlands.
‘‘She was digging up skeletons of medieval monks and I was getting into mischief. . . and I ended up finding this bone on this pile of dirt,’’ Ford laughs.
‘‘It turned out it was a finger bone of one of the monks. All of a sudden that captured my imagination. And it stayed with me a long time.’’
Long enough for him to also choose excavating the past as a career. He then met his Australian wife, Inga – a tropical medicine nurse – and shifted Down Under. That was 18 years ago.
These days, when Ford’s not nosing around digs all over the world, from the Caribbean and Jerusalem to Syria, he can be found poking through the secret histories of our homes for the ABC.
In season two of Who’s Been Sleeping In My House, 400 Australians volunteered their houses. The rules on selecting those filmed were simple: homes must be privately owned and still contain some air of mystery.
‘‘The owners had to not know too much about it,’’ he says.
Perfectly fitting that bill was one house shrouded in secrets in Roleystone, WA, which kicks off the new season this week.
‘‘During the second World War it was being used as a guest house,’’ Ford says.
‘‘A supposed Japanese spy had been arrested at the house, suspected of sending information back to Japan about various targets that could be sabotaged.
‘‘It piqued our interest because the official record is that there is no evidence of any foreign espionage activities on the Australian mainland during World War II.
‘‘One woman gave us this written account from someone from the time so it seemed bona fide and we were like. . . so. . . really?
‘‘I looked over her shoulder briefly and I could see the director punching the air, silently jumping around,’’ he laughs.
Ford also has been inside supposedly haunted houses, and says some homes do seem to have a ‘‘presence’’.
‘‘There’s been times when I have been digging and working on historic old houses, particularly in the UK where you just go inside and feel particularly strange.’’
Ford sees archaeology as ‘‘extraordinary’’, although he understands not everyone sees the point of digging up dead things.
‘‘Cultural heritage isn’t putting food into hungry kids’ mouths or stopping wars, but at the same time, the sense of place that people feel from understanding or appreciating or having some knowledge of the shoulders that they’re standing on is important,’’ he says.
Meanwhile, life seems to have come full circle for Ford. Now his two daughters, Anouk, 11, and Ines, 9, have started coming with him on digs.
They have so far seen the Ned Kelly shoot-out site: ‘‘They found a bullet which was still live which wasn’t that great’’, the concerned dad winces. And they visited him in Turkey where ‘‘they were most fascinated by the skellies I was digging up’’.
He would probably be delighted if his girls picked up his love for discovery of other cultures.
‘‘My experiences have had a profound effect on my life,’’ he says. ‘‘I feel quite honoured to be involved.’’