The Homecoming Review: There Will Be Tears

May 13, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

THE HOMECOMING, Thursday 14th May, Channel 4, 9.00pm ALERT ME

As part of Channel 4’s new Weepy Season, which follows hot on the heels of its You Don’t Know How Good You Have It season, journalist Rachel Roberts attempts to trace children from the care home she lived in more than 30 years ago.

Armed only with an old photograph Rachel sets out from her home in Brighton back to Doncaster to uncover what became of the smiley, happy people in the picture and how her own experiences of care compare with her peers.

As you may expect it’s not smiles all round, but neither is what emergesa tale of a grim Northern upbringing. As well as documenting Rachel’s quest to reunite the others from the care home, the programme examines what being a product of the care system can do to a child’s life and reveals some shocking statistics along the way. According to social worker Ariel Bruce a quarter of all rough sleepers are ex care children and so are a quarter of people in prison.

Rachel was taken into care aged just four and was eventually fostered along with her sister. However, she still wants to know the full story of why her mother disappeared and what her father did to have the children taken into care. In her quest for answers Rachel opens up a Pandora’s Box of family secrets that will change the way she thinks about her parents.

The show does well to pull the emotional triggers at just the right moment, turning a formal meeting between two strangers into a wet-eyed sniffle-athon quicker than you can say, ‘Luke, I’m your father.’ In fact there are a few moments that would not seem out of place at that bit towards the end of Eastenders, just before the drums kick in.

Alongside those who have been unable to move forward with their lives after going through the care system, Rachel uncovers the success stories of those who refused to let their childhoods dictate their futures. Overall, however, the prevailing sentiment that links all these strangers is the love they have for foster mother Tina, a woman who has dedicated her life to caring for other people’s children and who is still the closest thing many of them have ever had to a mother.

Go on, let your eyes rain!

Jack McKay