Adam Ford

This TV host has a pas­sion for dig­ging, writes Sh­eryl-Lee Kerr, and he’s dug up some in­ter­est­ing se­crets in his show.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

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.’’

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