Viewers have been left emotional by the first episode of a new BBC Two programme which reunites people with others from their past, with one admitting the show left them in ‘full blubbering mode’.
Reunion Hotel, which is hosted by Alex Jones, gives people a ‘once-in-a-lifetime chance to be reunited with someone pivotal from their past’, and the meet-ups broadcast on last night’s episode of the programme proved to be emotional viewing for many.
According to the BBC: ‘Whether people want forgiveness, to say thank you, or get answers they’ve wanted for years, everyone has an experience that changes their lives.’
Among the reunions on the show’s first instalment, was one between 21-year-old Tegan, who fell on train tracks and the man who rescued her, and five-year-old Pippa who wanted to thank volunteer builders who installed a state-of-the-art bath in her home that helps manage her skin condition.
However, the story that seemed to provoke the most emotional reaction in viewers featured Lee, who wanted to find the older brother he never knew he had, who was placed into adoption as a baby.
Lee appeared on last night’s episode of BBC 2 programme Reunion Hotel, where he met his older brother Stephen who’d been adopted as a baby. Lee said it had been important to let his brother know some of the circumstances of his adoption – and that he’d always been loved
Speaking to Alex Jones, Lee revealed that he had only recently discovered that he had an older brother.
He admitted that at first, he had been angry that he hadn’t been told earlier about his brother, but said his family had been respecting the wishes of his mother who had not wanted him to know, who died in 1999.
Discussing how he felt about his mother withholding this information, Lee said: ‘It was difficult at the time, because I think she should have told me.
‘But looking back on the time period [in which] it happened, it was what happened in the 60s, it was a difficult period.
‘There was no way of looking after a child, no welfare system. I think she ended up with not a lot of choice.’
Lee said it ‘very’ important to be reunited with his brother, explaining: ‘Obviously I knew who mum was, but he doesn’t know me, and doesn’t know the difficulties mum went through.
‘There are a lot of things to tell him. There’s a diary she had as well, which has his birthday marked in it, which was very personal to her, nobody knew about it. So he was loved, and he was always thought of.’
Lee said he knew nothing about his brother, and was hoping to be able to build a relationship with him.
At times, Stephen (pictured) appeared visibly emotional during his first meeting with Lee, as he started to learn about their mother, and how she had wanted to keep him
The programme’s adoption specialist Tanya was able to track down the brother – Stephen – who had been put into care at six months old, with no idea about what had happened to him during the first year and a half of his life, and had known he was adopted since the age of six.
Tanya told Lee she had found his brother, and that the pair could meet that day if he wanted to.
Stephen described finding out about Lee as ‘a shock, but a nice shock’, saying he was pleased he could meet his family, but was nervous, as well as hopeful.
His wife Lorraine noted that Stephen had always had questions about his birth family, but also had some fear that if he found them, he would be rejected.
Speaking to Alex Jones, he revealed that he had been told in ‘not a very nice way’ that he was adopted, being told that his mother had been a loose woman.
The episode left viewers emotional – with one Twitter users saying they would be in ‘full blubbering mode’ in any minute
The brothers (pictured) quickly hit it off, and have been in regular contact since meeting on the programme
In meeting Lee, Stephen said he wanted to know more about his mother, about what she had been like.
When the men met, they shook hands. Lee gave Stephen his birth certificate, and explained why his birth name had been Richard (which was the name of a friend of their mother who had died in an accident).
An emotional moment came as Lee showed Stephen their mother’s address book, which she had used for many, many years.
Lee noted an asterisk on one of the dates in the calendar at the back of the book. No one had known what it marked, as there was no other information. But Lee realised it marked Stephen’s birthday.
Looking at the book, an emotional Stephen said: ‘Oh my God….fancy marking that in there like that.’
Lee said: ‘That was important to show you, so you were never forgotten.’
He added: ‘My auntie said every birthday, she would sit by the front door, waiting for you to come back….You were never given up in vain.’
During their first meeting, Lee showed Stephen their mother’s phonebook, which had a calendar in the back. Their mother had marked Stephen’s birthday with an asterisk, though no one had known for a while what the significance of the mark was
He added that their mother did ‘everything she could at the time’ to try and keep Stephen, who she had to give up for adoption when he was six months old.
Stephen expressed regret for not looking for his mother earlier, while she was alive, then added: ‘But, I’ve got a brother.’
Speaking afterwards about seeing his birthday marked in his mother’s calendar, Stephen said: ‘To anyone else, it’s just a mark on a bit of paper. To me, it’s a mark of love.’
He added that he ‘feels like [he’s] known Lee all [his] life’.
Lee said it had been important to let Stephen know ‘how much he was loved…and cared for’, and that while he couldn’t meet their mother, he could now meet their two aunts.
The brothers expressed how quickly they felt comfortable with each others, and revealed they had plans to meet again in the future.
Their emotional story affected viewers who took to Twitter to discuss the episode.
Viewers opened up about the brothers’ story and the episode in general, which left many feelig emotional
One wrote: ‘The Stephen and Lee story on #reunionhotel has properly affected me tonight. As an adoptee you always have that thought in the back of your mind, you always wonder. My family mean and always will mean the world to me…maybe I will look into it 1 day.’
Another said: ‘What lovely blokes Lee and his brother were. Also shows what a good job the adoptive parents did. The other story of course is what their Mum and many others went through. Just heartbreaking and I think of them all tonight. #ReunionHotel.’
A third simply wrote: ‘The 2 brothers on #ReunionHotel.’
And another admitted: ‘Any moment now I’ll be in full blubbering mode.’
BBC series Reunion Hotel, airs on Thursdays at 8pm on BBC Two, BBC One Wales and iPlayer.