Happy reunions on Long Lost Family
Davina Mccall and Nicky Campbell tell us about the emotional reunions in a new series of Long Lost Family and how the show has touched the nation
New FACTUAL Long Lost Family WEDNESDAY / ITV / 9.00Pm
Even after six series of Long Lost Family, we still can’t watch the heart-wrenching family reunion show without dissolving into tears every five minutes. Luckily, Davina Mccall and Nicky Campbell are there to guide us through the rollercoaster of emotions in every programme.
Although the presenters are rarely seen on screen together, they are united by a genuine interest and affection for the contributors, and stay in touch with them after the cameras stop rolling. ‘I text Nicky for updates about the people I’m meeting,’ says Davina. ‘I just say, “Tell me everything!” ’
This series features the show’s first divorced couple searching for their son, as well as the first deaf contributor the show has helped.
Here, Davina and Nicky tell us what’s in store in the weeks ahead…
Can we expect this series to be as emotional as ever? Davina: Yes, we’ve had a few stories where the mothers that people are searching for aren’t alive anymore, and that’s hard. We always tell them off-camera, but then I go in the next day with a photo of their mum, which is really sad. Often we can reunite them with a sibling, as we did with Cathie in episode one, which is always poignant for me. I always think how amazingly fortuitous it is to find a sister, because I had mine taken away [Davina’s sister, Caroline, passed away in 2012]. I want to tell them to cherish that relationship because it’s the most precious thing ever. Nicky: I’m adopted and tracing my family wasn’t a massive emotional thing, I did it out of intense curiosity. But I get the things people say like, ‘I didn’t want to trace my birth mother because I don’t want to be disloyal to my parents’, or ‘I was worried I might be rejected.’ Inside I’m thinking, ‘Yep, that’s my life!’
There’s a lovely story in the first episode about a divorced couple, Marion and James [see box below] who want to find their son… Davina: It was a really beautiful thing because that’s never happened on the show before. They met when they were seven and were madly in love as teenagers, but nobody would help them when they had their son. They’re still good friends and it’s an amazing story, you really empathise with them. Nicky: When Davina told them their son had been found, they cuddled each other. I watched a preview of the episode with my wife and we went through an entire box of tissues…
it’s the show that makes the nation cry – do you find it hard not to shed a tear during filming? Davina: I’d rather stab myself with a biro than cry in front of the contributors. How awful would it be if one of them had to ask me if I was okay? I cry when I read the notes beforehand because they can be heartbreaking, and I can’t talk at the end of a day’s filming. I get in the car on my own and if my husband calls me I have to call him back in half an hour or so. Nicky: There are some bits that have been cut out of episode one where I’m reading a mother’s diary and every year she has written in the birthday of the daughter she had to give up, I was so choked up. But the beauty of this programme is that it’s not about us, it’s about the families. I work in news on the radio most of the time and with all the terrible things recently. Long Lost Family has been a sanctuary of loveliness – it shows everything that’s good about humanity.
what’s been the most difficult reunion to facilitate this year? Davina: We had one case this series that took the team 18 months. The contributor applied last series, but we didn’t find their relative in time. Our team are like terriers, though, they just won’t give up. Sometimes the team will end up knocking door-to-door to find their family.
Do people talk to you about the show on the street?
Nicky: A lot of people tell us about the father they never knew, and estranged family members. Davina: Sometimes they tell us the programme inspired them to find their relatives. Actually, I was at the swimming pool the other day and somebody came up to me and said, 'Do you think you could help me find my dad?' I said, 'Yes, but you’ve got to apply to the show!’
Can you see this series still being on air for years to come? Davina: I can’t see why not. There are always people looking for family. Nicky: As long as it goes on, we’ll be there because we love it, it’s the most extraordinary show to be part of. We could do it on our mobility scooters!
Long Lost family is previewed on pages 68-69
I sometimes cry beforehand, but I’d never cry
in front of the contributors
Nicky and Davina bring together Cathie and her half-sister Ann
Davina and her sister, Caroline