Some commentators have criticised Davina McCall‘s current television series, Born From the Same Stranger, for its subject matter.
Taking things a step further than ITV’s Long Lost Family, which reunites those separated by adoption or unavoidable circumstances, the next series from the same creators assists people born from sperm donors.
The series follows individuals who were conceived through sperm or egg donation and are looking for biological relations they have never met or knew existed.
Some of the documentary’s segments are made possible by the lifting of donor anonymity in 2005, which allows anybody conceived through donation after that year to seek further information about their identity as soon as they become 18.
In the first episode, beautifully narrated by Davina, Liam, 28, searches for his father, to whom he sends Father’s Day cards despite not knowing who he is.
Because of the year Liam was born, he cannot legally get his biological father’s identity, but he can be provided non-identifying information about him.
While he was unable to meet his father after posting his DNA results on websites, he did have the opportunity to interact with his half-siblings Charlie, 28, Beth, 25, and Mae, 27.
The quartet got together for a day at the bar and noticed certain commonalities, including hypermobility.
Some viewers criticised the show for being ‘grotesquely reckless,’ claiming that they did not take the donors’ desires seriously enough.
X user Thomas Lax said: ‘I think this is a pretty grotesquely irresponsible piece of television.’
He continued: ‘I mean if you donated sperm in the mid 90’s and you were told that your details would be kept confidential for life, irrespective of if the child in their latter years wanted to find out who their father was, to then conduct a programme of children (now adults) trying to trace who their father was and having it filmed could destroy someone’s life both for the father and for the child.
‘This is not entertainment and could have massive repercussions psychologically for both sides.’
#BornFromTheSameStranger I think this is a pretty grotesquely irresponsible piece of television. I mean if you donated sperm in the mid 90's and you were told that your details would be kept confidential for life, irrespective of if the child in their latter years wanted to find
— Thomas Lax (@Wombat802809) January 22, 2024
I feel for the men who donated on #bornfromthesamestranger like don’t they have the right to privacy?
— Leah☯️ (@MotherOfFloyd) January 22, 2024
‘I feel for the men who donated on #bornfromthesamestranger like don’t they have the right to privacy?’ added account Mother Of Floyd.
Account Notronomis also questioned whether it was fair on the sperm donors: ‘Hi @ITV – could you do a programme from the point of view of men from the 90s who became donors on the promise of anonymity? Living everyday lives and then filming them getting the phone call they thought they would never get? Etc.’
Account CB Genealogy said they had a lot of thoughts and added: ‘I do hope the participants received behind the scenes counselling.’
A participant in the series Amanda Burgess responded to let them know that she did.
A lot of thoughts on #BornFromTheSameStranger – I do hope the participants received behind the scenes counselling.
— CBGenealogy (@cbgenealogy) January 22, 2024
Hi @ITV – could you do a programme from the point of view of men from the 90s who became donors on the promise of anonymity ? Living everyday lives and then filming them getting the phone call they thought they would never get ? Etc. #BornfromtheSameStranger
— Vinegar Tom (@notronomis) January 22, 2024
Others felt emotional watching the show – one viewer called Michael said it had got them ‘in the feels’ as they’ve always wondered if they have more siblings, and account Chris in Bristol was balling his eyes out.
This programme has got me in the feels, do I have a half sister/brother
I'm not a donor child but my biological father doesn't know I exist or my brother for that matter.
It's just a conversation my mum would find upsetting so I never bring it up#bornfromthesamestranger
— Michael_ (@michael_h1919) January 22, 2024
There was praise from others on X, formerly Twitter, with the debut episode being called ‘fascinating’ and the participants who shared their stories were deemed ‘brave’.
Speaking about Born From the Same Stranger, ITV controller of factual Jo Clinton-Davis said: ‘For many people born to anonymous donors, finding out the hidden stories of where they come from and who their blood relations are is a deep and long-held desire.
‘And as this series will show, their stories are moving, astonishing and reveal much about the human condition.’
Born From the Same Stranger is on ITV at 9pm on Mondays. All four episodes are available to watch on ITVX.