Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall return this week with a fourth series of Long Lost Family, the heart-warming show that reunites family members who’ve been seperated for years. We caught up with them to chat about holding back the tears during filming and Nicky’s story of how he was reunited with his own birth parents..
Long Lost Family is a very emotional show, do you struggle to hold back the tears when you’re filming?
Nicky: “Every time!”
Davina: “I’m really trying to keep it together because it’s their moment and it’s a really big thing, but you can’t help welling up a bit! I always watch it when it goes out and cry my eyes out then as well!”
Do people come up to you when you’re out in public and ask you about the show?
Davina: “I did get stopped in the swimming pool the other day. Someone came up to me and said: ‘Hi, my dad’s looking for his son!’ I told them how to go about looking and that I had no shortcuts. I’m waiting to bump into them again to see what happens!”
Does making the show make you want to go home and give your family a big hug?
Nicky: “Yes it does. I was chatting to a man who hadn’t seen his daughter for decades and it really got me because I have four daughters myself. It makes you realise how lucky you are! We all sit there together watching the show blubbing in my house. Apart from the 10-year-old who doesn’t get emotional at all unless it’s One Direction. But you do find yourselves getting closer and closer to each other as the show goes on!”
Does it always work out when you find a long-lost relative or do some people not want to be found?
Nicky: “Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t but in a way that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that the people know what happened. Having that question mark taken away and getting on with your life. If your reunited as a family and you have new cousins and brothers or whatever then that’s a bonus! The real thing is knowing…”
It must be a very special moment when you see people reunited though..
Nicky: “I get goosebumps just talking about it. You’re with someone during the most intense and intimate moment of their lives. We’ve done nothing like this before and we won’t do anything else like it. It’s a moment in our lives which isn’t like a job!”
Davina: “I love it when they look at the picture. They go forensic. Not just talking about the face but the background, the leaves on the trees, the light. All of it. The clothes they’re wearing. You can see them memorising it!”
Do you stay in touch with the families from the show?
Davina: “Yes, we try to. At Christmas I get texts saying: ‘Here’s a picture of us!’ There was another one recently which said: ‘I’m with dad now, we’re about to watch our show – really excited!’ It’s amazing stuff. It takes a while for them to know that we mean it when we say stay in touch!”
It must be exhausting making these shows!
Davina: “It does take it out of you. I go quiet for a bit afterwards … I have to shut down. I make my whole family cry in the run up to the big reunion by keeping them up-to-date with the story and then I come back and they’re like: ‘How did it go?!’ But I find I can’t watch it straight away. I need to go have a bath and process it. Then I’m like: ‘gather round!'”
Nicky: “The most heartbreaking cases are when people have died. The most tragic is when they died when they were children! People have spent all these years not knowing. But we have such an amazing team around us and there’s so much support available for these people if that happens.”
Nicky, you were adopted when you were a baby and have since been reunited with your birth parents. How do you find the show related to your experience?
Nicky: “It’s amazing how many people say this came at the right time. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and it’s important because when I traced my birth mum it was completely the wrong time. It messed me up. I was only 29 and at a bad stage in my life. When I traced my biological father it was much better experience. I was in a better place.”
What happened when you traced your birth mother?
Nicky: “I was working on a debate TV show at the time and it was a programme about private detectives. I was in the green room and asked one if he could trace my birth mother. Two days later he came back with a phone number – which is just so the wrong way to do it! If you go through an agency you get better support. Obviously, these days many people find it irresistible to look for someone on Facebook, but it’s best to get support as well.”
How does the show compare to other jobs you have done?
Davina: “This one is so special. I think we’re both lucky – speaking for my TV husband here! – that we do a great range of programmes. I’d never want to do another one like this because I’m not sure it would ever measure up!”
Nicky: “Most of the shows I do on radio and TV make people angry but this one actually makes people happy so that’s great! I’ve never had a situation where something I’ve done has been universally received like that! You get people chasing you down the street, crossing the road and stopping you and telling you they love it so much… we’re so lucky!”
Long Lost Family returns to ITV on Monday 14th July at 9pm.