Joy and tears of decades of missing years
If the world of Twitter is a measure of these things then Monday evenings are the time the nation makes an appointment with a big box of tissues.
Week in, week out the latest series of Long Lost Family (ITV1, Monday) has never failed to set the tears flowing in its quest to reunite loved ones who have spent decades apart.
Where Cilla Black’s Surprise, Surprise played the reunion card for studio audience reaction the hour long format allows those sons and mums, fathers and daughters desperate to discover missing relatives the space to tell their heart-wrenching stories.
This week Long Lost Family struck double gold after tracking down a missing brother only to learn he too was seeking the mother who had given him up at the age of six.
Starting with 50-year-old Sharon, who was given away when just an hour old with no paperwork, it took the show’s researchers one year to trace her brother Adrian.
The moment the siblings met for the very first time was a real tear jerker as the two strangers who looked so alike fell into each other’s arms, lost for words.
Perhaps the biggest shock for Sharon was discovering her new found big brother has 10 children of his own and the realisation Christmases were going to become a whole lot more expensive from now on. But with 20 minutes of screen time left the big poser was whether their elderly mother Ann could be traced.
The first breakthrough came with the discovery of papers from Adrian’s adoption file which had never been unearthed in his own quest to find his mother.
Among the items was a birthday card Ann had sent to her 10-year-old son which had never been delivered.
The loving words, unread for 43 years, offered a devastating insight into a mother’s love and loss.
After tracking Ann down the programme skilfully handled her trauma at the hands of an abusive husband which had forced her to give up her children and the final scene was overwhelming as she begged for forgiveness from the children she had handed over half a century before.
Neither felt an ounce of bitterness as the tears flowed on screen and in living rooms across the land.
Key to the success of Long Lost Family are hosts Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall who are both perfect for the gig having each been given away by their natural parents in childhood. For anyone who only knows McCall as the shouty woman from Big Brother her tender approach to the dealing with the sensitivities involved in bringing family members back together is a revelation.
The only wonder is how the pair manage to hold back the waterworks themselves as these most human of stories are played out in front of them.