Long Lost Family

Long Lost Family is a show made from at least 33% pure tears. And not just a gentle prickling of the eyes – we’re talking proper sobbing; fat, salty globs of joy rolling down the cheeks. And that’s just the viewers – the people on screen are even worse.

This week, ITV’s BAFTA-winning reunion show returned for its sixth series with a real doozy of a tale. Cliff, 54, had been searching for his mother for 40 years. In a letter written shortly after his adoption, his mother had said: ‘I gave you to Jean and Ron, because I knew they would love you, and I didn’t want you to be brought up in an unhappy home.’ But they hadn’t loved him, and it was an unhappy home. By the age of 17, Cliff was an angry, rebellious young man living on the streets.

He knew his mother had moved to Singapore, but that’s where the trail went cold. And, unusually, Long Lost Family’s army of researchers also drew a blank. They were just about to give up on Cliff when, by sheer chance, they received a letter from another viewer, called Sue, whose story bore uncannily similarities. One DNA test later, and two people who had, in Sue’s words, ‘no history of belonging’ were told they had a sibling they knew nothing about. Their union – you can’t even call it a reunion - in a London restaurant was swimming in tears. From what I could see through the blur, anyway.

Meanwhile, Davina McCall, Nicky Campbell and the team helped Anna, a 29-year-old nurse from Cambridge, track down the Ecuadorian mother, Laura, who had been forced by grinding poverty to give her two-year-old daughter up so that she could have ‘a future – a better life’.

When they were reunited in Riobamba – spitting images of each other, like peas in a pod – Laura fell to her knees, wailing ‘My daughter, forgive me, forgive me’. Watching it felt uncomfortably voyeuristic, but somehow also vital and life-affirming.

‘I feel peace at last,’ said Laura afterwards. ‘Like a stone has been lifted from my heart.’

If you weren’t joining in the blubfest by that point, you should probably check for a stone in your own heart.


 TV extra:



This is the seventh – seventh! – series following the exploits of ‘the nation’s most madcap chocolatiers’ at Brighton’s Choccywoccydoodah shop.

This week, the team had to transport some cakes to a circus for a photoshoot. Would they survive the journey intact? The tension was frankly bearable.

It’s as relentlessly camp as you’d expect from a show in which someone fashions a ‘Russian transgender acrobatic prince’ in sponge, while Stephen Tompkinson narrates the whole thing in the style of Geoffrey from Rainbow. In a word: odd.


Red Rock

Red Rock sounds like a bottled lager, but is actually a new daytime police soap set in and around a Garda station in a small Irish coastal town. Think The Bill meets Balamory, with a dash of Romeo and Juliet, as a pair of star-cross’d lovers find themselves caught up in a turf war between two feuding families.

As someone with fond memories of watching Crown Court while skiving off from school, it’s good to see more (non-Australian) drama in the daytime - even if it does mean yet more cops on telly.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, July 14, 2016

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