Nicky Campbell Long Lost Family
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Nicky Campbell: ‘Evil’ teacher who abused him, targeted amid BBC scandal, weight loss, bipolar diagnosis, and adoption

The Scottish TV presenter was adopted at four days old

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Nicky Campbell returns to present Long Lost Family: Born Without a Trace on ITV1, but his own life could be something straight out of a heart-wrenching episode.

The sixth series starts on Monday, June 10 (9pm on ITV1) with more foundlings desperate to track down any remaining family, or link to their past. As usual, the stories are very emotional.

And presenter Nicky Campbell is the perfect host, having been separated from his own biological parents at an early age. Although he went on to be adopted, Nicky suffered abuse in his childhood, and has since been very open about his own mental health issues.

Here’s everything you need to know about Long Lost Family presenter Nicky Campbell, including his weight loss, bipolar diagnosis, and being targeted amid a controversial BBC scandal.

Ariel Bruce, Davina McCall, and Nicky Campbell stand together in Long Lost Family promo
Ariel Bruce, Davina McCall, and Nicky Campbell return in Long Lost Family (Credit: Wall To Wall Media Ltd/ITV)

Who is Long Lost Family presenter Nicky Campbell?

Nicky is a journalist, radio presenter, writer and TV presenter. He has worked in television and radio since 1981, and as a network presenter with BBC Radio since 1987.

He currently presents the BBC Radio 5 Live topical breakfast programme every weekday morning, and has done ever since 2003. Nicky has won four Sony Awards including a Gold for 5 Live Breakfast show’s coverage of the 9/11 attacks on New York.

Nicky is also known for hosting the BBC One‘s Sunday morning show The Big Questions. Other notable TV presenting jobs have included Top of the Pops (from 1988 to 1997), Wheel of Fortune, and Watchdog.

He has co-presented Long Lost Family on ITV since 2011, opposite Davina McCall. In 2023, he took part in The Masked Singer as Dippy Egg. He was eliminated and unmasked in the sixth episode – much to judge Davina’s surprise, who admits she felt “embarrassed” not to have guessed!

After he revealed himself, a tearful Davina told the audience: “I love this man. He’s a friend. We’ve been working together for 13 years. I cannot believe I didn’t recognise your voice.”

How old is Nicky Campbell? Where is he from?

Nicholas Andrew Argyll Campbell was born Nicholas Lackey on April 10, 1961, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

He is currently 63 years old.

He attended Edinburgh Academy, before graduating from the University of Aberdeen.

BBC Radio 5 live Presenter Nicky Campbell
Nicky Campbell hosts BBC Radio 5 Live (Credit: BBC)

Who is the wife of Nicky Campbell?

Nicky is happily married to second wife Christina ‘Tina’ Ritchie. They married in 1997 in Kensington, London.

Tina is a fellow journalist, and the former head of Virgin Radio News. She used to present BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat, and has also been a newsreader for BBC Radio 2.

Nicky was previously married to first wife Linda Larnach from 1988 to 1995. He took a break from his career to nurse Linda through ME, before they subsequently divorced. However, she later claimed that his career break had been a publicity stunt.

Nicky told The Times: “I was in my early 20s and working in local radio in Aberdeen when I met my first wife, Linda. She was eight years older than me and divorced with two sons.

“Friends told me I was taking on too much, but the more they said that the more determined I was to defy them. Maybe I was looking for someone who could make sense of my world, but I thought I was in love.”

He continued: “We were together for 13 years, and married for seven. When we finally parted, we didn’t so much divorce each other as the hell we created.”

However, Nicky credits Linda with encouraging him to trace his birth mother.

Does Long Lost Family presenter Nicky have children?

Nicky has four daughters with his second wife Tina. They are Breagha, Lilla, Kirsty and Isla.

Nicky told the Daily Express about having girls: “When Tina was pregnant for the first time I assumed I’d have a son who I could play football with. But I was delighted to have a daughter.

“The second time I again assumed we’d have a boy, but I wasn’t in the slightest bit disappointed when Lilla came along.”

Nicky was also step-dad to his first wife’s two sons during their marriage. He has admitted that “becoming a father was what finally persuaded me to trace my birth father Joseph”.

Nicky and his family live in south-west London.

Nicky Campbell and wife Christina 'Tina' Ritchie
Nicky Campbell and wife Christina ‘Tina’ Ritchie attending the 20th National TV Awards, held at the O2 Arena in London, in 2015 (Credit: SplashNews.com)

Was Long Lost Family presenter Nicky Campbell adopted?

Nicky was born in Edinburgh to Stella Lackey, a Protestant from Dublin, and father Joseph, an Irish Republican from Belfast. He was adopted at four days old. His adoptive mother Sheila was a psychiatric social worker and his adoptive father a publisher of maps.

In 1989, when he was in his 20s, Nicky decided to trace his birth mother. And in 2002, he found his biological father, who was 13 years younger than his birth mum.

As an unmarried woman, Stella travelled from Ireland to Edinburgh to put Nicky up for adoption and escape the shame associated with being a single mother in the 1960s.

Nicky also discovered that his grandfather had been in the IRA between 1919 and 1921. He was 29 when he first met his birth mother in a hotel in Dublin. Nicky described feeling “no emotional connection” when he met her.

He explained: “Stella wanted to make up for lost time. But my time hadn’t been lost. I had my story – my truth.”

Nicky revealed that coming to terms with being adopted was like living a “lie” and gave him a “fragile” sense of identity. These difficulties eventually led to a devastating breakdown.

In 2004, Nicky wrote a book called Blue Eyed Son, about his own adoption experience. The book is an account of being adopted and tracing both his birth parents and his extended families in Ireland.

Both sides of his birth families helped with and contributed to the book. Sadly, his birth mother Stella died in 2007. His adoptive mum Sheila died at the age of 96 in December 2019.

Nicky traced his adoptive family’s roots in Scotland and Australia during an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? which aired in July 2007.

Nicky Campbell reveals sexual abuse by ‘evil teacher’

In 2023, Nicky appeared in the hard-hitting documentary Panorama. In the hour-long episode, Nicky and other men shared a dark secret about their time in school.

Nicky was sexually and physically abused in Edinburgh Academy, and Fettes College. He accused Iain Wares of the abuse, and has  campaigned for him to return to the UK to face justice.

Talking about his time at Edinburgh Academy, he admits he was sexually abused by a teacher, as well as witnessing abuse. He said: “Other teachers were bad, really bad men – awful, appalling men doing horrible things – but Iain Wares was evil.

“Ian Wares abused on an industrial scale. He was one of the most predatory paedophiles this country has ever known.”

Nicky was a pupil at Edinburgh Academy between 1966 and 1978. There he dealt with horrors no child should ever have to deal with. But he, and many others, kept it a secret.

There were repeated offences at the well-regarded Scottish school. Breaking down, Nicky said of Iain Wares: “He was known to us as a predator and a sadist. But we never told anyone.”

Recalling one particular incident of abuse, Nicky recalled: “We were all getting changed. I was three or four feet away from a friend, and Iain Wares pulled down his pants and literally played with him. It’s forever imprinted on my mind.”

Nicky also alleges he was sexually and physically abused at the private boys school in Edinburgh in the 1970s. In fact, there have been allegations against nearly 30 staff between the 1960s and 1980s, including Hamish Dawson. He recalled the teacher “playing with him” while he was forced to lie on his lap.

Nicky Campbell becomes emotional during filming of Panorama
Nicky Campbell became emotional during filming of Panorama: My Teacher the Abuser (Credit: BBC Studios)

Nicky embroiled in BBC scandal

TV presenter Nicky was one of several innocent victims wrongly accused of paying a teenager for explicit pictures. Until Huw Edwards was revealed to be the anonymous BBC presenter, trolls targeted other well known BBC presenters.

Police subsequently investigated “malicious communications” on social media as TV stars like Nicky and Jeremy Vine were targeted amid the BBC scandal.

In 2023, it was reported that a BBC household name had been suspended after allegedly paying someone thousands for explicit pictures. Due to the person in question being unnamed, many social media users began speculating online. This has led to users falsely accusing BBC stars such as Nicky Campbell and Jeremy Vine.

According to the MailOnline, a statement from the police read: “On Saturday July 8, police received a report of malicious communication in relation to a post on social media. An investigation is under way and inquiries are ongoing. There have been no arrests.”

Nicky later detailed his “distress” after being falsely named.

How did Nicky Campbell lose weight?

Nicky previously lost weight after switching up his diet. Back in 2016, Nicky decided to lose weight by making some small changes to his eating habits.

Nicky lost weight after cutting bread, red meat and chocolate from his diet. As a result, the star managed to drop from a 34 inch waist to a slender 32.

He shared: “I’ll tell you what, I’m very, very pleased with myself, because I went to buy some trousers, not leather trousers Theresa-May style.

“I had to go and get myself some new jeans because my 34s are just falling off. 32s, down two jean sizes.”

He went on to clarify: “Two waist sizes. No chocolate, no bread, no red meat, I tell you.”

Nicky Campbell as Dippy Egg on The Masked Singer
Nicky Campbell was unveiled as Dippy Egg on The Masked Singer (Credit: ITV)

What mental illness does Nicky have? Is he bipolar?

Doctors diagnosed Nicky with bipolar disorder in 2020. Since then, Nicky has often spoken out about the condition and how it affects him.

Appearing on Loose Women last year, the star bravely discussed how he turned to help following a breakdown.

The ITV presenter shared: “I had this breakdown outside Euston Station one day. The whole world fell on top of me. I started weeping and I scrambled for my mobile phone and I rang Tina.”

Nicky’s wife Tina, who also appeared on the show, added: “He called me and said, ‘I can’t go on, it’s too much’. I thought he was going to jump in front of a train.”

Thankfully, Nicky has managed to overcome his struggles with the help of medication.

On Lorraine, he previously shared: “Getting a diagnosis and knowing what was wrong all your life has just been fantastic. My friends have been amazing. If this resonates with people it’s all kind of worth it.”

Read more: Police investigating ‘malicious communications’ on social media as TV stars like Nicky Campbell and Jeremy Vine targeted amid BBC scandal

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Long Lost Family returns on Monday, June 19, 2024 at 9pm on ITV1.

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Helen Fear
TV Editor