The Gatwick Baby – Abandoned At Birth Review: Looking For Answers

THE GATWICK BABY – ABANDONED AT BIRTH: Wednesday 13th April, BBC3, 9pm

When a child was discovered in the women’s toilets at Gatwick airport in April 1986, he was nicknamed after the airport’s mascot, Gary Gatwick. But 24 years later and after having been adopted, he’s called Steve Hydes and has started a journey to find out who he is, where he’s from and why his mother disowned him (sadly it’s not this woman on the left..) Unfortunately, a documentary that could have been profound turns out to be profoundly irritating.

Steve’s story is not the problem, the idea that a person who has been abandoned wants to find out about their background is entirely understandable, but it’s the presentation of the programme that becomes wearing. The amount of times Steve is put in front of the camera to tell us that he knows nothing about his background is just embarrassing, and the shot always lingers on him that little bit too long, making the scene feel awkward. There are also other slightly exasperating parts, like when he’s standing in front of a window and says: “she is somewhere, I would imagine,â€? which feels like the most horribly contrived moment of the whole documentary and only serves to make the whole thing seem slightly less real. That’s not what people do, it’s what they do when they’re on TV and have been told to make things interesting.

Having said that, the insight into how Steve feels about the situation is interesting, and when he meets the other people who were abandoned as babies he finds that they all share his burning passion to discover his roots. Steve meets all the people who were involved when he was found, to try and get information from them about his case, and also tries to get his official files using the Freedom of Information Act, but finds they have been destroyed, which seems a little callous on the part of the police.

The most interesting parts of the documentary come near the end, when Steve hears about a baby that has recently been abandoned in Derbyshire and goes to talk to the people who found him. He has no qualms about telling them that, in the future, they might be quite important to the child when he’s looking for information about what happened to him, and tells the police officer who was involved that she should write a letter for the boy’s file to tell him what happened.

Even though he has managed to get in touch with a newspaper and get his story printed, we’re told at the end that his mother hasn’t yet come forward which is a melancholy and anticlimactic ending, but hopefully if people listen to Steve’s ideas then others in his position in the future will find this journey that little bit easier.