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McCann film to mark anniversary of Maddie's disappearance
Published: Thursday, 27 March 2008, 2:18PM
Kate and Gerry McCann are set to take part in
an ITV documentary marking the first anniversary of their daughter Madeleine's disappearance.
The programme will feature extended contributions from the parents and focus on the campaign to prevent others going
through a similar ordeal. It is the only TV programme the McCanns have agreed to be filmed for in the run up to the anniversary.
The documentary team has followed Kate and Gerry McCann since early January and exclusive footage for the one-hour special
will include the couple in their home in Rothley and travelling around the world.
They also talk about Madeleine, the night she went missing, becoming "Arguido" suspects in Portugal and the decision
to return to Britain.
Kate and Gerry campaign to introduce to Europe a USA-style Amber Alert system, in which law enforcement agencies are
empowered to commandeer airtime on TV and radio when a child goes missing. The system also includes alerts via email, electronic
traffic signs and text message.
The McCanns hope a European-wide scheme will help reduce the chances of their experience happening to other families.
ITV's controller of current affairs and documentaries, Jeff Anderson, said the channel will donate £10,000 to the
Find Madeleine Fund. However, he added that no payment has been made to Kate and Gerry McCann for the making of the programme.
Steve Anderson, executive producer at Mentorn Media, said: "Amid all of the controversy, what should be remembered
is that a little girl is still missing and her family is trying its best to find her.
"We have been with Kate and Gerry McCann as they have pushed for a better system across Europe to help stop child abduction.
They are determined to do whatever they can to make sure that what happened to Madeleine doesn't happen to another child.
"They also speak frankly and honestly about Madeleine's disappearance which is undoubtedly one of the biggest stories
of the past 12 months."
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, 20 April 2008
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change
Wed 20 April 2008
New. A year since their daughter vanished from their holiday apartment in Portugal, Kate and Gerry McCann talk exclusively
to ITV about the events of that fateful night.
The McCanns have given an emotional interview to ITV1 one year on since Madeleine disappeared in which they
revealed the extent of their pain and talked about their continued hope she will be found despite fearing the worst in the
first few days she was missing.
Cameras followed them from January until April as they launched their campaign to introduce an Amber Alert
system across Europe and spoke about being made arguidos – with Gerry describing it as feeling like they were "in the
middle of a horror movie really, a nightmare."
And they talked about their leaked statements to the press and their regrets at not questioning Madeleine
further when she told them she had cried the night before she disappeared.
The programme features the couple talking about:
• Becoming arguido suspects • Their decision to leave their children in the apartment
while they dined at the tapas bar • Being criticised by the public • What happened on the night
Madeline went missing • How they felt about their police statements being leaked and the context of what Madeliene
said about crying • How they nearly didn't go to the tapas bar that night • The anniversary and
what Madeleine may look like now • Their relationship with Madeleine – 'she was like a little buddy to
me,' said Kate. • How they try to have a normal life for Sean and Amelie
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change is the only TV programme the McCanns agreed to be filmed for in the run up
to the anniversary. Footage includes the couple in their home in Rothley and travelling to Brussels and Washington as they
pursue their campaign.
On the change in focus of the police investigation and becoming arguido suspects Kate said: "As soon as I realised the
story or theory or whatever you want to call it, was that Madeleine was dead and that we'd been involved somehow. It
just hit home. They haven’t been looking for Madeleine. And it was just I mean, just, I just felt yet again my
daughter's had such disservice and I just, I mean I was obviously upset by that, very upset and I was angry you know.
"And I just thought she deserves so much better than that, and I thought I'm not going to sit here and allow, allow this
Gerry said: "Pressure that, such as I've never felt before because you’re under attack in one way or another.
"The speculation takes you to the worst places and at that point you know the worst place would have been being charged,
potentially being put in jail, certainly being detained to face charges that could have taken I don’t know years to
materialise, being separated from Sean and Amelie.
"These sort of things were going through your mind and you're, because it's a system that you're unfamiliar with, you don’t
know what could happen."
"I started thinking well if they're saying that about us being involved with Madeleine," said Kate, "you know it's not
long before they say what about Sean and Amelie, what about their other two children? And I can remember saying to Gerry's
mum and Gerry’s sisters, do not let anyone near them and they were like – 'don't you worry', you know, and it
was back again to the sort of lioness and her cubs. You know I'd just do whatever it took to protect them."
"It felt like you're in the middle of a horror movie really, a nightmare," Gerry said.
"When I was going in to become arguido, because I felt angry, I felt strong. I wasn't scared. I felt like I was
going to fight the world to be honest. My daughter was worth more than all that and I would do whatever it took to fight
for justice and truth," said Kate.
Their arguido status means that the McCanns are still not allowed to talk about what happened inside the police station
but it was widely reported that Kate was being offered a deal: admit accidentally killing Madeleine, and face a reduced sentence.
Kate said: "No I'd have fought to the death to be honest at that point. There was no way I was going to be railroaded
"I felt almost invincible at that point. I just don’t know what kicked in. You know I just thought my
children deserve that, Madeleine deserves that. Someone has to be fighting for Madeleine."
On their decision to leave the children in the apartment while they dined at the tapas bar Kate and Gerry explained how
on the first night they had eaten at a restaurant called the Millennium half a mile away from their apartment.
Kate said: "But that (the Millennium) was, that was a good walk away and we didn't, we didn't have a buggy or anything
with us so we did go and we took all the kids. It didn't open til half six or something and our kids usually go to bed
around seven so they were really tired and they were walking but you’ve got to remember they’re only little.
we ended up having to carry them and trying to carry three of them between two, you know and we decided we couldn’t
do that really. It wasn't, wasn’t fair and it wasn’t you know, it wouldn’t have been good for anybody."
Gerry explained: "And it turned out our apartments were right next to the tapas which was literally from the back
of ours, like fifty yards, maybe sixty. And, and then so we said well why don’t we just try and eat there?"
Kate added: "Just seemed like a good idea…"
And on the decision to do regular checks on their children Gerry said: "Two of the other couples had been on Mark
Warner holidays before and they have a baby listening service which essentially is where someone goes round the apartments.
They don't actually go in, they just listen outside."
"And it wasn't till quite late on that we realised there wasn't a baby listening service. But I guess we were just
doing our own baby listening service, only we were going inside and checking," said Kate.
Gerry compared it to having a meal in the back garden while the children were asleep upstairs.
"And… it seemed a fairly natural sort of thing to do, it was so close. As you say you could actually see
the apartment and it didn't feel that different to dining out the back garden. What you wouldn’t do was go upstairs
and check on your kids every half hour like…we were doing. But – you just, it was the furthest thing from
my mind that something like that happen," said Gerry.
"I think if there'd even been one second where someone had said do you think it’s going to be okay, it wouldn’t
have happened," said Kate.
"I mean there's absolutely no way, and I've said it before, there’s absolutely no way if I'd have had the slightest
inkling that there was a risk involved there, that I'd have done it," she added.
Gerry said he wasn’t surprised by people’s criticisms.
"You know people will say that they've never done that and you know who am I to argue? You know we have to live with
the fact that we weren’t directly there and if we were then you know possibly, probably it wouldn’t have happened,"
The couple have received hate mail to their Leicestershire home. In a Christmas card which Gerry read out they were accused
of being "thieving bastards".
It read: "Gerry and Kate, how can you use money given by poor people in good faith to pay your mortgage on your mansion?
You **** thieving bastards. Your brat is dead because of your drunken arrogance. Shame on you. I curse you and your
family to suffer forever. Cursed Christmas. If you have any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter's
disappearance and give all the money back. You are scum."
The couple recalled what happened on the night that Madeleine went missing.
Kate said she did her check and discovered her daughter had been taken. She said she rushed to the tapas bar shouting "someone’s
"And that's when the nightmare started," she said.
Gerry explained: "Everyone knows the fear, I think fear is probably the right word, fear for your daughter, fear for yourself,
fear for your family, fear for everything and, and that horrible kind of adrenalin fight, flight."
Kate said: "And I just remember saying 'not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine' and I just remember saying that over
and over again."
He added: "Later on there was a period where she hadn't turned up. It was absolute devastation and total, just total emotion
Kate recalled how the couple searched through the undergrowth early the following morning.
"We were saying over and over again 'just let her be found let her be found'," said Gerry.
"It was really hard those first few days. I just feared the worst at the beginning. Probably for the first few days we
were like that. I mean just, you’re just like praying and praying that that wasn’t the case," said Kate.
Gerry and Kate hit back at criticisms that they had shown little emotion in the early days of the investigation.
Gerry explained: "Numbness sort of kicked in and you can't have that raw emotion 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
You just can't, physically you can't do it. And I’m sure that’s self-protection as well but also I think the psychological
element of kicking in and actually saying we do have some influence in this. So what I think we wanted to do is make
sure we've done everything absolutely possible to try and help and influence that search."
"We had…behavioural specialist profilers out who were telling us not to show emotion in case the abductor gets a
kick out of it, you know and so you've got the pressure of not showing emotion to protect your daughter…" added Kate.
Kate and Gerry also spoke about their anger over parts of the statements they gave to the Portuguese police being leaked.
While they were being filmed for the documentary in Brussels where they were campaigning for a Europe wide Amber Alert
system they discovered that parts of their witness statements had been given to the press.
"They've had those statements for eleven and a half months," said Kate. "Why today on all days when we’re in
Brussels trying to do something positive have they been given to a journalist?
"And it also appears that you know the bits of the statement which have been chosen which I have to say we've told police
absolutely everything, because we wanted to give everything to find out what's happened, but the bits that have been chosen
have been picked out of context intentionally to smear us and I think you know the whole thing is to you know detract from
what we’re doing today and I feel absolutely gutted. I think it's an absolute disgrace," Kate commented.
"I'm really angry. Judicial secrecy should apply to everybody," she added.
"It’s not coincidence. I think it's a sad indictment of a system that we’ve had to put up with," Gerry
Kate recalled Madeleine's comment the day before she went missing.
"Well I can’t remember, we'd just had breakfast. It was, it was sort of fairly early in the morning.
She just very casually really said 'where were you last night when me and Sean cried?' And we immediately looked and
said, you know, 'when was this Madeleine, was this when you were going to sleep?' And she didn’t answer.
And then she just carried on playing, totally undistressed," said Kate.
She added: "But we obviously told the police because we thought does that indicate that someone's been round the night
before and that’s what’s woken her up? Which is significant, you know…I’ve persecuted myself
over and over again about that statement because you think why didn't I kind of just hold her and say what do you mean, what
do you mean you know? What do you mean you woke up?"
Gerry said: "I think the worst thing is we kind of almost thought about not going. And er, and did. We weren’t
sure we were going to get into the tapas, remember, and…"
Kate said: "In fact we were all, we were all going to go up to the Millennium again, that was with the kids, which
is what we did the first night. It was just, it was just because the walk was so long and we didn’t have a buggy
and the kids were tired by that time and I thought we were, you know we did talk about going up to the Millennium that
Gerry added: "But I mean the worst thing is that you can’t change any of that
and it doesn't help find her.
"I think we’ve actually, despite you know our own guilt, we've tried to focus on what we can change and you know
in the first few days you know obviously we focused much, much more on the negatives and it doesn't help.
"It doesn't help Madeleine, it doesn't help us and it doesn’t help find her."
Said Kate: "…As Gerry said, the guilt you feel for not being there and giving someone that opportunity, you
know but then I just have to kind of reel myself in and think you know I know how much I love Madeleine and I have
no doubt that Madeleine knows how much I love her.
"I think – I mean I know that and I've just got to think regardless of what all those people say out there, you know
those bloggers and people on the forums who obviously get some kind of kick out of being nasty, I know that and I know
Madeleine knows that and I’ve just got to kind of keep hold of that really."
Kate described Madeleine. She said: "She's, she's very loving. She's a very bright little girl. I had
days when I'd go to a café with Madeleine and we'd go shopping together and you know she just, you know just say: 'Oh mummy like
that top', 'Oh I love your earrings, mummy', you know and she's good company. She's like my – you know she's like
a little buddy to me you know."
Gerry added: "She looks like Kate, thank goodness for that, but in terms of personality
trait, she’s more like my side of the family I think.
"She's very outgoing, she was a bit of a ringleader in the nursery and her friends and it's always bizarre because at times
I'd go into nursery and 'oh are you Madeleine’s dad, so and so's always talking about Madeleine'. All the parents
- you start to think oh my goodness, what’s she been doing? But you know she’s just really outgoing, good
fun, bundles of energy and very loving."
Gerry: "She was a little person becoming independent and a piece of, you know, endless joy."
Referring to the anniversary marking a year since her daughter went missing Kate said: "It doesn’t feel like a year
since I saw Madeleine. She's just so much, very much still there and she doesn't seem that far away. It feels
like she's still with me in some way and I've never felt that I won't see her again."
Gerry added: "She's still very much part of our life and the twins. We can see how much they love their big sister.
I do think that she's still out there, very much so."
"Our little girl wasn't even four, and is now nearly five. She's the victim and people should not forget that," said
Kate revealed that they often wonder what Madeleine would be like now. "She was great with Sean and Amelie and that. You
know even when …they were born you know…she just stepped into the role really well considering you know she was
only 20 months when they were born and she wanted to be involved and help and then obviously as they got a little bit older
because the age difference was so close they just played so well together.
"And it was just lovely seeing them together and that's one thing I struggle with is imagining how they'd be now," she
Kate said she also saw Madeleine's best friend and it made her wonder what her daughter would look like.
"I see Madeleine's best friend from time to time," said Kate. "Can’t help but wonder what would Madeleine be like,
would she be that much taller, you know is her hair as long as that? You know and would she be writing her name too?
You know she’s there waiting for us. She deserves us to keep going."
They said the family tried to have as normal a life as possible for the sake of Sean and Amelie but Gerry described it
as a "purgatory type existence."
He said: "Your life is carrying on to an extent, in a quasi-real existence, a purgatory type existence. We are, we
are kind of between something real and never finding out. But although it was hard, we decided to re-introduce Sean
and Amelie to a degree of normality and normality is that I go to work."
Kate said: "When we first came back, you know I didn’t cook a meal just couldn't do it. All the every day things
that have to be done, you know there were times in the early days where things like that, I found I resented things like that
because it was taking me away from Madeleine you know. How can I hang up washing when my daughter's not here?
"Whereas now, you know, we have got Sean and Amelie and they, they need a happy normal life and they deserve a happy normal
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change is a Mentorn Media production for ITV1. The executive producer is Steve Anderson
and the producer/director is Emma Loach.
You Tube video clips from the documentary
Madeleine crying/bloggers (03:42)
Gerry and Kate McCann are asked about their response when Madeleine allegedly told them on the
morning of May 3 2007 that she and Sean had been crying the night before, when left alone.
Opening letters and talking about Madeleine (03:40)
Kate and Gerry on dicovering Madeleine missing (03:49)
By Nigel Moore
McCann: It was the fifth night. We reserved a table at 8.30. By 9.00 everybody was... was there. It was on the third
check, which was my check, errm... that I went, errm... and I discovered Madeleine had been taken. I rushed round the apartment
really quickly, just opened up cupboards and things, and then just went flying out down to the Tapas restaurant, shouting:
"Someone's taken Madeleine". And that's when the nightmare started. I remember I just ran saying: "Not
Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine" and I can just remember saying that over and over again. And Gerry was the same,
you know, he's... kind of, not used to seeing Gerry obviously that upset.
Gerry McCann: Something's
kicked in and there was a lot of activity within the group, quickly, and errr... I don't know if it's used to dealing
with very stressful situations at work, errm... or otherwise but, you know, errm... there was definitely a 'let's
do this, this, this...' errr... you know, 'call the police, do all the things, alert people, coordinate'.
Kate McCann: I can remember our friends shouting: "You need to close the borders!" and they were
shouting: "Morocco, Algiers..." you know, I can remember all this going on and "Road blocks, you need road
blocks". I mean it was our friends out there kind of saying this.
Gerry McCann: I was...
errm... pretty adamant Kate should stay in the apartment in case Madeleine was found so we knew where to bring her right away.
Kate McCann: I was mainly in the bedroom and then I was just praying actually, I was just ringing
everyone and getting them to pray and I felt so helpless. It was really cold. You know, I knew what pyjamas she had on and
I just thought 'she's going to be freezing' and it was just dark and dark, and every minute seemed like an hour
and, errm... obviously we were up all night and we just waited for that, errm... first bit of light at 6 o'clock.
Gerry McCann: And then we went out searching, two of us, at daylight.
It was just deserted. And we were just searching. Through the undergrowth, through bushes.
We were saying over and over again: 'just let her be found, let her be found.'
McCanns talk about the holiday (04:22)
McCanns: "We nearly
took Madeleine out to dinner with us - if only", 30 April 2008
McCanns: "We nearly took Madeleine out to dinner with us - if only"
Kate and Gerry McCann almost took their children out with them when they went out to dinner with friends on the night
Madeleine disappeared, they reveal today.
The couple admit in a TV documentary tonight that they talked about not going to the tapas restaurant in Praia da Luz,
Portugal, on the night of May 3 last year, and considered instead taking their children with them to another restaurant called
the Millennium, further away.
They rejected the idea only because the children were tired and they did not have a buggy, they said.
Mrs McCann also revealed she had tormented herself for a year for not paying more attention to Madeleine on the morning
before her disappearance, when she told her parents that she had been crying the previous night in their absence, and asked
them where they had been.
She said: "You know, I’ve persecuted myself over and over again about that statement, because you think - why didn’t
I just hold her and say 'What do you mean? What do you mean?'"
She added: "It does upset you and you think 'Why didn’t I say, why did you cry? Why did you cry, you know?' And
why didn’t we go to the Millennium and blah, blah, blah.
"... But then I just have to reel myself in and think I know how much I love Madeleine and I have no doubt that Madeleine
knows how much I love her."
The comments feature in a two-hour documentary, Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, to be screened tonight
on ITV1 as the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance nears.
Mrs McCann said the decision to go to the tapas restaurant "just seemed like a good idea" but added: "I think if there’d
been one second where someone had said ’do you think it’s going to be OK?’ it wouldn’t have happened."
She adds: "In fact we were all ... going to go up to the Millennium again, that was with the kids, which is what we did
the first night. It was just because the walk was so long and we didn’t have a buggy and the kids were tired by that
Her husband admits that Madeleine would probably not have disappeared if her parents had not left them behind when they
went out that night.
"We have to live with the fact that we weren’t directly there," he said. "And if we were - then, you know, possibly,
probably, it wouldn’t have happened. I think the worst thing is we kind of almost thought about not going and... did."
In the documentary, the McCanns also say that the moment that the Portuguese police made them "arguidos", or official
suspects in the case, was like being "in the middle of a horror movie".
"It just hit home - 'they haven’t been looking for Madeleine'," says Mrs McCann.
"I just felt yet again my daughter’s had such disservice ... I just thought she deserves so much better than that,
and I thought I’m not going to sit here and allow this."
She goes on: "I wasn’t scared. I felt like I was going to fight the world, to be honest. My daughter was worth
more than all that and I would do whatever it took to fight for justice and truth."
She says alongside the fear and indignation, she was filled with a powerful need to protect her two other children, twins
Sean and Amelie.
"I started thinking 'well if they’re saying that about us being involved with Madeleine, you know it’s not
long before they say what about Sean and Amelie, what about their other two children?'.
"And I can remember saying to Gerry’s mum and Gerry’s sisters, 'do not let anyone near them'.
"And they were like 'Don’t you worry' ... and it was back again to the sort of lioness and her cubs. I’d
just do whatever it took to protect them."
Mr McCann said that he was plagued by fear of what it would mean for Sean and Amelie if the police charged them.
"The speculation takes you to the worst places," he says. "And at that point you know the worst place would have been
being charged, potentially being put in jail, certainly being detained to face charges that could have taken, I don’t
know, years to materialise - being separated from Sean and Amelie.
"These sort of things were going through your mind and you’re, because it’s a system that you’re unfamiliar
with, you don’t know what could happen."
Mrs McCann goes on to attack the Portuguese police openly, accusing them of deliberately leaking details of the investigation
to smear them.
In a section of footage filmed in Brussels, Mrs McCann says: "We’ve just heard that apparently our witness statements
have been leaked to the press from the Portuguese police."
Her comments are likely to provoke a negative reaction in Portugal where police have publicly denied leaking the statements.
Mrs McCann also appears to refer to the plea bargain reportedly offered to her by police, the prospect of a reduced jail
sentence if she admitted accidentally killing Madeleine and staging an abduction.
The McCanns are banned by Portuguese judicial secrecy laws from speaking openly about what happened inside the police
station but at one point Kate says: "No I’d have fought to the death to be honest at that point. There was no way I
was going to be railroaded into something."
The couple say that they left Portugal two days after being declared arguidos because they felt it was no longer "safe"
Mr McCann speaks of their current existence with no news of Madeleine’s whereabouts as like "purgatory".
The couple insist that 99 per cent of the correspondence they have received is positive, but they also describe some
of the hate mail they have received.
In a segment filmed in the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire, Mr McCann reads out the message in an innocuous looking
Christmas card with a snowman on the front: "Gerry and Kate, how can you use money given by poor people in good faith to pay
your mortgage on your mansion?
"You f****** thieving bastards. Your brat is dead because of your drunken arrogance.
"Shame on you. I curse you and your family to suffer forever.
"Cursed Christmas. If you had any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter’s disappearance
and give all the money back. You are scum."
Mr McCann calmly comments: "That’s quite nice. Very charming," and drops the card inside a box marked "Nasty".
Other boxes are marked "Wellwishers", "Psychics", "Visions and dreams" and even "Nutty".
Mrs McCann says that the couple had to live with the decisions they had made and carry on, "regardless of what all those
people say out there, you know those bloggers and people on the forums who obviously get some kick out of being nasty."
Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 30 April 2008 11:10 UK
Kate and Gerry McCann have spoken movingly of the night their daughter Madeleine vanished, a year after the three-year-old
In an ITV1 documentary, the couple recall their all-night vigil and desperate dawn search for their daughter after she
They also reveal the extent of hate mail they receive, showing one message calling the pair "scum".
Kate McCann tells how she refused to be "railroaded" by Portuguese police.
Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on 3 May last year, while her parents ate
in a nearby tapas restaurant.
In the programme, Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, the McCanns tells how they considered taking their three
children with them to another restaurant called the Millennium further away, but rejected the idea only because they did not
have a buggy, they said.
Describing the moment she first realised Madeleine was not in her bed at their apartment, Mrs McCann said: "I rushed
round the apartment, really quickly, just opened up cupboards and things and then just went flying out down to the tapas restaurant,
shouting 'someone's taken Madeleine'.
"And that's when the nightmare started."
She went on: "I just remember saying: 'Not Madeleine, not Madeleine, not Madeleine' and I can just remember saying that
over and over and over again.
"Gerry was the same... I'm not used to seeing Gerry obviously that upset."
She said one of her most vivid memories was concern that Madeleine would be cold.
"I knew what pyjamas she had on and I just thought she's going to be freezing," she said.
A segment filmed in the family home shows Mr McCann sorting through mail, dropping one Christmas card inside a box marked
Other boxes are marked "Wellwishers", "Psychics", "Visions and dreams", and even "Nutty".
However, the couple tell the programme that "99%" of the correspondence they receive from the public is positive.
The card accuses the McCanns of stealing money from the Find Madeleine campaign to help pay their mortgage.
The person writes: "Gerry and Kate, how can you use money given by poor people in good faith to pay your mortgage on
It continues: "Shame on you. I curse you and your family to suffer forever.
"Cursed Christmas. If you had any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter's disappearance and give
all the money back. You are scum."
One regular writer has a conspiracy theory about Madeleine passing through Belgium and Germany with the knowledge of
the British government.
"Really, I don't think there's any credibility to it whatsoever," Mr McCann says.
Mrs McCann says she refused to be "railroaded" by Portuguese police when it was suggested she might be involved in her
"I'd have fought to the death to be honest at that point," she says.
The McCanns talk warmly of some of the last pictures to be taken of Madeleine while the family were on holiday in the
"She was a little person becoming independent and a piece of just endless joy," Mr McCann says.
Missing Madeleine McCann...One Year On, 30 April 2008
'We were all going to eat at a family restaurant that night but changed our plans as the
kids were tired ..why didn't we go?' - Kat McCann
Kate McCann has revealed she and Gerry intended to take Madeleine to dinner with them on the night she vanished - but
changed their minds at the last moment.
The couple had initially planned to stroll half a mile with Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to a restaurant
that catered for families.
But because the children were tired they took the fateful decision to feed them in their flat and put them to bed instead
- and then went out to dine with their friends.
Kate, telling for the first time of the seemingly inconsequential change of plan, says tearfully: "Why didn't we go?"
The heartbreaking revelation comes in a two-hour TV special screened tonight ahead of the first anniversary of the four-year-old's
In the documentary Kate also tells how becoming an official police suspect only made her stronger and more determined
to fight for her daughter.
She says: "I felt angry, I felt strong. I wasn't scared. I would do whatever it took to fight for justice and truth."
MY BEST FRIEND
Kate tells movingly how the little blonde girl was more like a best friend than a daughter - and reveals how she tortures
herself by trying to imagine how Madeleine looks now she is approaching her fifth birthday.
The ITV1 documentary Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, was produced after camera crews spent four months with
It captures the daily anguish endured by both parents - graphically illustrated when Kate weeps as she says to the camera:
"I know how much I love Madeleine and I have no doubt that Madeleine knows how much I love her."
Kate also tells how she still agonises over the ill-fated decision not to got to family-friendly Millennium restaurant
on the night Madeleine went missing.
She and Gerry had planned to take the children there to mark the last night of their holiday.
Kate says: "We were all going up to the Millennium again, with the kids, which is what we did on the first night. But
the Millennium was a good walk away and we didn't have a buggy with us.
"It didn't open till half-six and our kids usually go to bed around seven, so they were really tired and they were walking.
"So we ended up trying to carry three of them between two and we decided we couldn't do that again. It wouldn't have
been good for anybody." Instead, the couple decided to dine with friends at the tapas bar about 60 yards from their holiday
apartment in Praia da Luz and check their children every half-hour. At around 9.15pm, Madeleine was found to be missing.
Kate, a devout Catholic, tells how as a frantic search got under way she sat in her daughter's room praying - then phoned
friends and begged them to pray.
She says: "It was really cold. I knew what pyjamas she had on and I thought 'She's going to be freezing'. And it was
dark and every minute seemed like an hour and we were up all night, waiting for the first light about 6am." Kate also tells
of their growing realisation that Portuguese police suspected them of murdering their own child.
She weeps again as she says: "I realised the theory was that Madeleine was dead and that we'd been involved.
"It just hit home - 'They haven't been looking for Madeleine.' And I just thought 'She deserves so much better than that'."
But Kate reveals that being made an arguido, or official suspect, over Madeleine's disappearance actually inspired her
to greater efforts.
She says: "I felt almost invincible. I don't know what kicked in. I thought 'Someone has to fight for Madeleine'."
Gerry adds: "If we had crumpled, then who's looking for Madeleine?"
Kate also speaks about the close bond she and Madeleine shared - more like best friends than mother and daughter.
She says: "I had days when I'd go to a cafe with Madeleine and we'd go shopping together and she'd just say 'Oh mummy
I like that top' or 'Oh I love your earrings, mummy'."
Then, poignantly slipping into the present tense, Kate adds: "She's good company. She's like a little buddy to me. She's
very loving...a very bright little girl."
Kate fights to maintain her composure as she describes how Madeleine stepped into the role of big sister when the twins
were born. She says: "It was lovely seeing them together and that's one thing I struggle with, imagining how they'd be now."
And she hits out at those who accused her of showing too little emotion after Madeleine vanished, adding: "We had behavioural
specialist profilers out who were telling us not to show emotion in case the abductor gets a kick out of it.
"You've got the pressure of not showing emotion to protect your daughter."
Gerry also fights tears as he views Madeleine's webpage on YouTube on his laptop at their home in Rothley, Leics.
TWINS NEED US
He turns away and says: "Every time I watch that video it brings it back."
But despite her resolve to stay strong, Kate tells how after returning home in September without Madeleine she was overwhelmed
by feelings of despair.
She says: "I didn't cook a meal, just couldn't do it. How can I hang up washing when my daughter's not here?"
But the day-to-day business of caring for the twins has forced her to cope.
Kate says: "Sean and Amelie need and deserve a normal happy life."
She still unconsciously refers to Madeleine as if she is with them as she adds: "It's a case of getting up and breakfast
and getting dressed and with three kids there's always lots of washing.
"In some ways it's good, because you have to do it."
Gerry adds:"Your life is carrying on in a quasi-real existence, a purgatory-type existence. We are between something
real and never finding out.
"We're not getting any information about the investigation and that is completely demoralising."
The film also captures the couple's disgust as their statements to Portuguese police were leaked on the day they went
to Brussels to campaign for a Europeanwide missing child alert system.
The leak revealed that on the morning of May 3, the day Madeleine vanished, she asked Kate: "Mummy, why didn't you come
when we were crying last night?"
Angry Kate insists it was merely a passing remark by Madeleine and accuses the police of smear tactics, adding: "I feel
She adds: "I've persecuted myself over and over again about that statement because you think 'Why didn't I just hold
her and say what do you mean?' Why didn't I say 'Why did you cry?' And why didn't we go to the Millennium?"
STILL SO NEAR
On Saturday it will be a year since Madeleine vanished. But Kate says: "It doesn't feel like a year since I saw her.
She's very much still there and she doesn't seem that far away. It feels like she's still with me and I've never felt that
I won't see her again.
"I see Madeleine's best friend from time to time. I can't help wondering what would Madeleine be like, would she be that
much taller, is her hair as long as that?
"Would she be writing her name? You know she's there waiting for us. She's there somewhere. It's just finding her."
Gerry says: "She's still very much part of our life and the twins. We can see how much they love their big sister. Our
little girl wasn't even four and now she's nearly five. She's the victim and people should not forget that."
Kate vows that she will never give up the hunt for her beloved daughter.
But she admits: "The thought of living like this for another 40 years isn't exactly a happy prospect."
Madeleine McCann timeline
Kate and Gerry McCann leave their three children asleep in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz while they dine with
friends at a nearby tapas restaurant. When Kate checks at 10pm three-year-old Madeleine missing
Portuguese police reveal they believe Madeleine was abducted but is still alive and in Portugal.
Kate makes a desperate appeal to Madeleine's kidnapper
Manchester United and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo makes a televised appeal for Madeleine to be released
Police hold a press conference and announce they are winding down the search around Praia da Luz
Virgin boss Richard Branson, author J.K. Rowling and footballer Wayne Rooney contribute towards a £2.5million reward
Detectives take Anglo-Portuguese man Robert Murat in for questioning and make him an "arguido", or official suspect
Madeleine's family set up an official campaign fund and launch the website www.findmadeleine.com
Video appeals are screened during the FA Cup final
Mr and Mrs McCann meet Pope in Rome
The McCanns' hopes are raised when numerous sightings of a girl matching Madeleine's description are made in Malta
A woman claims she saw Madeleine at a service station in Belgium
Exactly 100 days after Madeleine disappeared, investigating officers publicly acknowledge for the first time that she
could be dead
Donations to the Madeleine McCann fighting fund reach £1million
The McCanns fly back to England with twins after being made official suspects
Mr McCann returns to work as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital.
Portugal's top detective says in a radio interview that police were "hasty" in making Madeleine's parents suspects
Mr and Mrs McCann accept £550,000 libel damages and front-page apologies from Express Newspapers
Three Portuguese detectives, led by Paulo Rebelo, fly to Britain to re-interview the seven friends
A leak of the couple's first police interviews reveals that Madeleine asked her mother on the morning before she vanished:
"Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"
Gerry says he believes his daughter is still "probably alive" and that there is "absolutely zero" evidence to suggest
Madeleine anniverary: McCanns tell of regrets in TV documentary, 30 April 2008
Madeleine anniversary: McCanns tell of regrets in TV documentary Guardian
· Parents nearly took children out with them · Mother hints at offer of deal for
Wednesday 30 April 2008
Kate McCann in the Madeleine, One Year On documentary. Photograph: ITV/Mentorn/PA
Kate and Gerry McCann considered taking their children out to dinner with them on the night their daughter
Madeleine went missing instead of leaving them alone in their Portuguese holiday apartment while they ate tapas nearby, they
reveal in a documentary marking the anniversary of her disappearance.
In the two-hour programme, the couple say they talked about going to another restaurant, the Millennium, with
the three-year-old and her brother and sister, but decided not to because it was a half-mile walk and they did not have a
Kate McCann also tells how she has "persecuted" herself for not questioning Madeleine more when the girl mentioned
that morning that she had cried the night before in her parents' absence at the Mark Warner resort in Praia da Luz.
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, which is on ITV1 at 8pm tonight, shows the McCanns at home in
Rothley, Leicestershire, with twins Sean and Amelie, and follows them to Brussels and Washington as they campaign for an EU-wide
alert system for missing children.
In extensive interviews Kate McCann's eyes frequently fill with tears as she recounts how she discovered Madeleine
was not in her bed and imagines how she might look now, aged nearly five.
Gerry McCann describes their feelings on being made arguidos, or official suspects, in the case by Portuguese
police as like being "in the middle of a horror movie" and speaks of still not knowing where Madeleine is as "purgatory".
Kate also hints openly for the first time at a deal reportedly offered to her by police if she admitted accidentally
killing her daughter and staging an abduction, telling the programme she was not going to be "railroaded". She later attacks
the Portuguese police and accuses them of deliberately leaking details of the investigation to smear the couple.
The couple are banned by Portuguese law from speaking openly about what happened inside the police station,
but Kate McCann appears to address the issue of the reported deal, saying: "No, I'd have fought to the death, to be honest,
at that point. There was no way I was going to be railroaded into something."
The programme's makers insist the couple had no editorial control. They were not paid, but a £10,000 donation
was made to the Find Madeleine fund.
Much of the documentary is shot in the family home, where they are seen returning to everyday life: playing
with the twins, preparing meals and hanging up washing. In one scene the couple are shown opening piles of letters, which
are divided into labelled boxes. One reads "nutty", another "nasty". There is also a section for "well-wishers" and a receptacle
for "psychics, visions, dreams".
Kate McCann estimates that 1% of their post is hate mail, as her husband reads out a Christmas card accusing
the couple of being "thieving bastards". "Your brat is dead because of your drunken arrogance," says the writer. "Shame on
you. I curse you and your family to suffer forever. Cursed Christmas ... You are scum."
Speaking about May 3 last year, the night Madeleine went missing, he says: "The worst thing is we kind of
almost thought about not going."
His wife adds: "In fact we were all going to go up to the Millennium again that was with the kids, which is
what we did the first night. It was just because the walk was so long and we didn't have a buggy and the kids were tired by
Another problem was that the restaurant did not open until half an hour before the children's 7pm bedtime.
With no buggy, they were forced to carry the children home between the two of them on their previous visit.
The McCanns and the seven friends they were on holiday with say they had a system of half-hourly checks on
their sleeping children while they dined at the tapas restaurant in the resort each night.
"I think if there'd been one second where someone had said 'Do you think it's going to be OK?' it wouldn't
have happened," Kate McCann tells the cameras.
Her husband adds: "We have to live with the fact that we weren't directly there and if we were, then, you
know, possibly, probably, it wouldn't have happened."
They believe a Europe-wide alert system, modelled on the US Amber Alert, which allows television broadcasts
to be interrupted and notices to be flashed on motorway screens after a child is reported missing, might have found Madeleine.
They need at least 393 MEPs to support their proposal, at which point the European Commission would consider
So the McCanns are sad and angry - did we really need a two-hour documentary to tell us?
Thursday May 01 2008
Tuesday's News at Ten (ITV1) led on the McCanns and how they felt last August when they were
named aguidos in the investigation into the disappearance of their daughter. We already knew that the McCanns were aguidos,
of course, so the news - the biggest story of the day according to Sir Trevor and the team, bigger than petrol prices, or
the housing market, or Austria, or Ken v Boris - was that Kate McCann says she felt "angry" and Jerry found it "surreal" when
they became people of interest to the inquiry. Bong: Kate McCann was angry last summer. Bong: petrol's £5 a gallon. Bong:
the horrid Austrian man is definitely both father and grandfather to lots of kids.
Kate had revealed her anger in a new documentary to be shown the following evening. So Sir Trevor's top story
was essentially a trailer for another show: the main news tonight on ITV1 is that there's another programme on ITV1 tomorrow.
I think that's shocking. And they wonder why twice as many people watch the BBC News at 10 (which inexplicably missed the
McCann scoop and went with the mortgage squeeze).
Anyway, what about the documentary itself, last night's Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign for Change
(ITV1)? Well, there's a clue in its awkward title. It felt like two films, a compromise between what the film-makers and the
McCanns wanted. This is speculation, but I imagine that Madeleine: One Year On is what the film-makers wanted to make, a documentary
in which the McCanns spoke openly and candidly about their past year, hopefully with some sensational and newsworthy nuggets.
Which they got, but as part of the deal they also got the film the McCanns wanted, about their campaign for a European equivalent
of the Amber Alert in America.
It made for a bloody great sprawl of a film. Two hours! That's too long for most feature films, and much too
long for an interview with two quite ordinary people. Yes, they have been through the most terrible thing anyone can go through.
No, that doesn't make them worth two hours, especially as anyone who's opened a newspaper in the past year pretty much knows
every detail of the story already. And, in spite of what the people at ITN think, there were no new revelations. I can't imagine
many people did the distance.
I think the film probably did succeed in showing us the real McCanns, possibly for the first time, and of
course I hope it helps them find Madeleine. At times it was moving, but, as television, it would have benefited from being
cut in half. Plus, it jumped around in time confusingly, and the music was oppressive - the same four cello notes, again and
again. A cello always signifies sorrow. It was annoying at first; after two hours, it was maddening.
It's difficult to keep the visuals stimulating, too. We saw the McCanns at home in Leicestershire; Kate and
Jerry talking on the sofa. But you can't have two hours of sofa, so we joined them in a lot of taxis - in Portugal, London,
Washington. And there were plenty of lingering tree shots - leafless, winter trees (this is a sad story, after all). And a
flying heron ... eh, what's that about? Maybe the heron is an aguido, too. Does Sir Trevor know?
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change, 01 May 2008
Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change Timesonline
Last night's TV
May 1, 2008
Why must television do compassion? Why, when faced
with a captive audience, a prime-time slot and a story that could, if they’d let it, tell itself, must television turn
to mush and mutate into a series of treacly Hallmark bereavement cards?
Usually we television reviewers get sent DVDs but for the preview of Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign for
Change, we were bustled off to the ITV headquarters, where we had to sign an embargo form and watch the two-hour documentary
with a roomful of reporters who didn’t quite manage to get a story out of it.
The film’s director, Emma Loach, the daughter of Ken and one of the professionally compassionate people
working in the industry, answered questions at the end wearing the kind of furrowed brow that she might have swiped off the
actress Emma Thompson in empathic mode.
Loach let it be known that, as a parent herself, she felt the McCanns' pain. But just in case the audience
didn't, one presumes, she had decided to overlay the entire two hours with Mentorn's answer to Philip Glass. As we watched
poor Kate McCann breaking down again and again in front of the camera, the piano went berzerk. This Is Moving, it told us
not altogether implicitly, lest a year's worth of 24-hour Maddie news coverage had partially eroded our capacity to feel.
Which it has, of course. But is an orchestra the solution?
There’s not that much new to say about the Madeleine case, but the people at ITV could have dealt with
that. When, for example, we followed the McCanns to America to meet the father of Elizabeth Smart, a 14-year-old who was abducted
for nine months in 2002, it might have been useful to give us some background, rather than cut to the 24th close-up of Kate
McCann’s helpless, grief-crumpled face. And on the subject of missing children in general, how about some more information
about those who disappear every year (one minute it was 10,000, the next 12,000).
For every chat with the couple's cheerleaders, how about a set-to with their enemies; whoever it is in Brussels
who opposes the introduction of the US-style Amber Alert system that the couple want to have introduced across Europe; the
Portuguese police. There was a good bit when it emerged that leaked police statements had coincided with the day of the McCanns’
Brussels trips, a smear, the McCanns thought, but soon we were back to too many shots of empty swings and deserted playrooms,
and an obsession with capturing on camera every single one of Kate McCann’s breakdowns.
What, perhaps inadvertently, came out of this film was a worrying portrait of a woman so obviously poleaxed
by grief that, a year on, she is no closer either to finding out what happened to her eldest daughter or resolving in her
mind the events of last May. "You never can give up hope," she said, and yet "the thought of living like this for another
40 years is not exactly a happy prospect".
At one point Gerry McCann admits that his "wife is carrying on in a quasi-real existence". What she is really
doing is falling apart, but too much gloop from the director turned the McCanns’ terrible situation into a guilt trip
that made me want to watch The Apprentice instead.
Come off TV, Kate
and Gerry, your time is up, 02 May 2008
Come off TV, Kate and Gerry, your time is up The Sun
JON GAUNT - Sun Columnist
Published: 02 May 2008 (published online 01 May 2008)
IT must be just me, but the Maddie documentary left me feeling less sympathetic to Gerry and Kate than I was
It was a two-hour bore-fest with a centre softer than a marshmallow. And my God, did the background music get
on your nerves too?
There was no real probe into why they chose to leave their three children home alone.
accept that their proposal for an amber alert system is a great idea and should be implemented right across Europe.
I couldn’t believe their bleating over the fact that their campaign was bumped off the front pages by the revelation
that Maddie had asked why Mummy hadn’t come to their room the night before when she was crying.
This was, at
Of course a revelation like this will go straight to the top of the news agenda.
The question remains:
Why didn’t Kate and Gerry talk to us about this earlier?
let me state, I don’t know whether they are involved in Maddie’s disappearance — only a court can discover
the truth — but I believe they are guilty of neglect.
What was all that guff about not having a buggy as a reason
for leaving the kids alone in the room?
What was that nonsense about thinking there was a listening service? After
a few days they must have realised that no such service was available?
Even if they didn’t realise this, surely
when Maddie talked about crying on the very day she was abducted they should never have chosen to go out on the booze again.
interviewed Emma Loach, the director of this film, on my radio show on Wednesday and she clearly illustrated where her sympathies
lay when she told me she too had left her three-year-old and five-year-old alone in a hotel room while she went off and had
Her pathetic excuse for this child neglect was that it was better to do this than have the kids be irritable
the next day.
Gerry and Kate said on GMTV yesterday that there are different ways to parent.
They are WRONG.
is only way and that is to always put your kids first.
People like Loach and the McCanns clearly don’t understand
that when you have kids your priorities have to change, you are no longer a singleton or a couple and you cannot act as if
Your first responsibility is the safety and comfort of your children.
This programme left me with even
more questions than answers and just confirmed to me that the spinning and propaganda on both sides has to stop.
agree with the man who brought the Bulger killers to justice, Albert Kirby, who said on my show that the McCanns’ time
would be better spent going back to Portugal and helping the police with the reconstruction rather than touring TV studios.
McCanns must return and do the reconstruction. Then the Portuguese police need to charge them or release them from their suspect
But please, most of all, can all the main players in this sad saga remember it is not about you and your suffering
but the plight of an innocent four-year-old
I feel guilty for having doubted the McCanns, 02 May 2008
I feel guilty for having doubted the McCannsWalesOnline
By Lowri Turner, Western Mail
May 2 2008
ON WEDNESDAY night, ITV1 devoted two hours to a documentary about Kate and Gerry McCann.
"How could the channel justify this degree of airtime?” some grumbled.
"Haven't the McCann's had enough publicity already?” others moaned.
"What is the point?" yet more questioned.
Ostensibly, the documentary's point was to garner support for a cross-Europe version of the amber alert system for finding
missing children that is already in use in America. The McCanns made their case well.
However, there was another point to this documentary. It proved something once and for all. The McCanns are innocent.
After months of innuendo, smear stories and doubts placed in the minds of all of us by leaks from the Portuguese police,
the McCanns finally decided to tell their story. Up to this point, they had largely stuck to the police warning not to discuss
the case. Now though, presumably because they no longer have any faith in Portuguese justice and with the Tapas seven being
interviewed yet again, they decided, "stuff it!" Now seeing what they have been through, how they kept their tongues for so
long is a miracle.
There has been so much written about the night Maddie was taken. We were told that Kate behaved oddly, announcing: "Someone's
taken her," when a "normal" parent would have said: "She's gone," or "where is she?" We were told the couple often left their
children alone to play tennis in the afternoons, or that they had argued or that Kate was under strain.
There were allegations that money raised for the Find Maddie appeal was being used inappropriately and, more recently,
there has been the crushing revelation that Maddie asked her mum why she didn't come when she cried the night before her disappearance.
Actually seeing the McCanns recalling the events of that night, and, in particular, observing the silences in their speech,
where each was apparently flashing back to that appalling evening, showed that they could not possibly have had any part in
Maddie's disappearance. These were not actors playing a part.
I for one now feel immensely guilty for having doubted either of them.
And yet, the allegations, leaked so determinedly by the Portugese police, seemed plausible. A pair of doctors with access
to something a tad stronger than Calpol might have decided to quieten their children so they could have a meal in peace. A
tragic error in dose or a freak allergic reaction and who knows what could have happened.
After all, how many of us have given our own kids a teaspoon of Mediced when we've been on a flight, or used a tiny syringe
of night cough remedy to damp down a child who has a cold, is wailing and refusing to go to bed? Parents are not perfect.
But now, having watched the footage of Kate and Gerry over the past year, their hopes raised one minute, plunging the
next, it is impossible not to conclude that they are totally, completely innocent.
As for the allegation that the couple had somehow come to enjoy the media spotlight, again, the behind-the-scenes footage
showed them struggling sometimes just to put one foot in front of the other. At one point in the documentary, Kate was talking
about Elizabeth Smart, an American teenager who was snatched and then found; she burst into tears. I found myself crying too
and I'm a hard-bitten old boot.
Now, there has to be a concern that the reason I, and presumably many others, now believe Kate McCann is that she wept
on camera. Her tears were the price we required her to pay for our support. It's what we expect from mothers who have lost
children. Parents whose children have been the victims of crime are now routinely wheeled out at police press conferences
so they can cry on cue, thus eliciting public sympathy and possibly a few leads.
Kate explained on TV that she and Gerry had been advised not to be too emotional in the early days of Maddie's disappearance
because this would make it less likely that a captor would release her. However, the result was that Kate appeared cool, even
detached, not victim-y enough and she has been punished for it.
But, listening to her talking about living day-to-day with the uncertainty of Maddie's disappearance proved that she
is being punished for a crime someone else has committed. And the sentence is infinite. As Gerry said, they both now live
While, in public, the McCanns are a united front, usually seen holding hands, there was another scene in the back of
the car with Kate and Gerry staring out of opposite windows. You felt a great gulf of grief between them, each dealing with
the sadness of their situation in their own way. It made you fear for them as a couple.
After the documentary, Gerry and Kate went on News at 10. He told viewers that the reason they did the documentary was:
"We are real people, not characters and Maddie is a real girl."
It's been easy to forget that over the last year, but the awful grief and panic on the faces of both Kate and Gerry should
remind us all of the realness of their predicament. We must all keep praying for them and for Maddie.
I worked with Ben Needham's mother Kerry this week and 16 years after Ben was taken, it was clear that the pain hadn't
lessened. She spoke of it being difficult to get through each day, each hour sometimes, even though she now has a daughter.
Looking in from the outside at her situation and the McCanns, it's easy to say that it would be better for them to give
up hope and "get on with their lives", but this glib statement ignores that fact that if it was our child, how many of us
could really do that?
For a variety of reasons, the disappearance of Madeleine McCann seems to hold an enduring, not to say unhealthy, hold
on the nation's imagination. The first and most obvious is that it exemplifies every parent's deepest fear. It's also a mystery,
and it's only human to wonder at the unknowable truth. But there is more to it than that, something modern and distinctive.
For it's also a media story, a testament to the power of the digital image.
There can be few people in this country who are unfamiliar with the photograph of Madeleine with her large, dark and
seemingly imploring eyes. And many, if not most, will have seen the footage in which she looks up, full of a child's acceptance,
at her father's camcorder. Then there are her parents, an attractive couple and, in the case of Kate McCann, strikingly photogenic.
And finally the missing image, the one that in our surveillance culture we have come to expect to exist, that of a perpetrator
carrying the child off into the night.
It's a story that has remained in the public eye because the truth is that, however macabre, it is attractive to the
eye. I recall being in the Sky News studios when the McCanns flew back to England from Portugal. All other news that morning
was dropped. Every item. Hours were spent on reporting the arrival of an aeroplane. Forget Chamberlain returning from Munich,
the coverage could not have been any greater had Martians landed with a declaration of interplanetary war.
And yet nothing had happened. Nothing has happened of any consequence, in fact, for a whole year. Inevitably, then, at
the end of a long two hours of Madeleine: One Year On the viewer knew precious little more than was known
at the beginning. The bare facts were and remain that on 3 May 12 months ago Madeleine McCann went missing from her room in
a Portuguese resort and has not been seen since. It is, as her father Gerry McCann said a number of times, the 'nightmare'
from which there is no waking.
But is it a nightmare from which we can gain meaningful information? Or is it the type that offers some kind of dark,
vicarious entertainment, the sort derived from the voyeuristic relief that we are not in the McCanns' dreadful position?
The programme-makers, who followed the couple for four months, seemed to have two aims. The first was to allow the McCanns
to tell their version of events, and thereby counter some of the rumour and vicious innuendo that has flourished in the media
frenzy. And the second was to show the McCanns trying to gather support for a Europe-wide 'amber alert' to deal with missing
In both cases, the film, despite its length, performed a frustratingly limited job. Though it revisited the scene of
Madeleine's disappearance, and the McCanns went over what had happened, key details were left conspicuously untouched. For
example, was the apartment locked or unlocked? Without definitive answers to this question and others there is still plenty
of room for malicious speculation.
Which is what the McCanns file under 'Nasty' in the boxes of correspondence they receive. They also have a box marked
'Nutty' and - an interesting though needless distinction - 'Psychics'. We watched them reading letters from supporters, conspiracy
theorists and hate-filled moralists, neither them nor us any the wiser to the details of the real-life event that prompted
this epistolary outpouring.
In one vital respect, though, the film delivered. Shot in unflinching close-up, it was not quite a study of people under
unbearable psychological pressure, but it was a kind of trial by reflex expression. It's impossible to imagine that anyone
could withstand that degree of photographic scrutiny while harbouring a massive lie.
The McCanns came across as determined and disciplined people, particularly Gerry. 'It's absolutely essential that you
survive,' he said, addressing the camera with something between stiff resolution and pride, 'and come out the other end.'
He refused to allow himself to look back because, he said, sensibly enough, it didn't help. In an earlier press conference,
he said that 'words cannot describe the anguish and despair'. This must be true, but you can glimpse it in his wife's haunted
gaze. Kate McCann broke down a number of times, and behind her own large dark eyes, so reminiscent of her daughter's, lay
a world of unending pain. In a sense, the programme reconfirmed what has always been apparent: that the couple are entirely
innocent of any crime.
But in the matter of leaving their children unattended, while they went to dine in a nearby restaurant, the McCanns remain
in the dock of public opinion, charged with parental negligence. And here we come to the terrible irony of this case.
The McCanns left Madeleine and their twins alone because, as Kate put it, they did not have the 'slightest inkling' of
any danger. After all, who expects a kidnapper to be lurking in a quiet holiday resort? The answer now is everyone. Thus a
couple of parents who were almost alone in their obliviousness to the contemporary paranoia of child abduction have helped
increase that very paranoia.
The McCanns now want to 'stop what happened to Madeleine happening to any other child'. To this end, they are lobbying
for European legislation obliging law agencies to notify road and border patrols of a child's disappearance.
Again there was very little supporting detail to explain what this actually involves. Instead the misleading statistic
was quoted that around '100,000' children go missing in Britain each year. Are the McCanns arguing for border alerts on all
of these cases? We didn't find out. Nor were we told that nearly all of the missing children are found almost immediately
and that the rest, with a handful of exceptions, are runaway teenagers.
As yet the massive focus on this tragedy, of which this film unavoidably forms a part, has not yielded a shred of productive
evidence. But unquestionably it has helped to terrify a generation of already overprotective parents. It shouldn't be necessary
to forget Madeleine to remember that what happened was exceptionally rare. Amid all the hype and hysteria, it just seems like