The Secrets She Keeps: did you know the BBC thriller is based on a true story?

Posted by for People

Abbie Humphries initially didn’t realise the BBC thriller was about her own kidnapping.

Warning: this article contains spoilers for BBC One’s The Secrets She Keeps.

For the past few weeks, The Secrets She Keeps has been the TV show everyone’s been talking about around the (virtual) water cooler. And, earlier this week, the thriller reached its dramatic conclusion on BBC One when Meghan (Jessica De Gouw) came face-to-face with her son’s kidnapper, Aggie (Laura Carmichael).

Aggie, who emotionally revealed that she had found herself unable to conceive a baby after being forced to give up her own child as a teenager, appeared to shoot herself as police arrived on the scene.

However, viewers were left stunned when, at the end of the episode, it was revealed that Aggie had survived the self-inflicted gunshot and been sent to prison for her crimes.

Naturally, viewers exploded over the twist on social media, heralding the show for its shock factor and demanding a second series.

“Wow what an ending to #TheSecretsSheKeeps,” tweeted one. “So dramatic! Quite a few twists and turns there. I have found this a gripping story that has really tugged at the heartstrings and pulled you in so many different directions. Wouldn’t mind a series two.”

“Wow, what a series,” added another Twitter user. “Hope they make a second series. Riveting and on the edge of the seat drama.”

And still one more raved: “Can’t remember the last time I was so gripped by a TV programme. #TheSecretsSheKeeps has had me on the edge of my seat!”

However, for Abbie Humphries (formerly Sundgren), the show proved to be much more than just another must-watch BBC drama. Because, when she sat down to watch The Secrets She Keeps, she was entirely unaware it was inspired by her own kidnapping.

“As I am sure you can imagine, this does bring up a lot of emotions for my family,” she told The Mail On Sunday.

Humphries was stolen from the Queen’s Medical Centre in 1994. Just three and a half hours after her birth, a woman in a blue nurse’s uniform approached her father, Roger, and informed him that the newborn needed a hearing test.

He handed the ‘nurse’ his baby, as requested. It soon transpired, though, that the woman was not who she appeared to be – and the Humphries family soon found themselves at the centre of one of the UK’s most audacious kidnapping cases.

For 17 days, Karen and Robert Humphries did not know if their daughter was alive or dead. But, against all the odds, the baby girl was found and returned to her family.

Speaking to The Nottingham Post about how she felt when she was reunited with her daughter, Karen Humphries said: “I knew immediately that she was mine. She had lost a lot of weight but you couldn’t miss that shock of blonde hair she had been born with.

“But it was more than that: I just knew this was my baby.”

The Secrets She Keeps on BBC One
Meghan (Jessica De Gouw) comes face-to-face with Aggie (Laura Carmichael) in The Secrets She Keeps.

Humphries’ kidnapper, Julie Kelley, had faked a pregnancy and birth in order to save a failing relationship. She was later diagnosed with a serious personality disorder.

The Secrets She Keeps, of course, does deviate from the Humphries case in places. And that’s because it is based on a novel by Michael Robotham.

Robotham, who was working as a journalist in London in 1994 when Humphries was stolen in Nottinghamshire, made the decision to relocate the true story to Sydney.

He then turned Humphries’ kidnapping into a psychodrama about a downtrodden shop worker who envies the life of a beautiful middle-class mother. 

Humphries, who moved with her family to New Zealand when they became disillusioned with life in the UK, previously explained: “We had moved to New Zealand when I realised how big it all was. We were unpacking all the boxes and I saw the press cuttings. That’s when I realised what a huge deal it was.

“But it didn’t stir up any emotions of horror or anything. To be honest, I thought it was rather cool.”

She added: “I learned how hard the police worked looking for me… perhaps that’s why I’ve been thinking about joining up. Maybe I’ll end up as a detective.”

You can read Abbie Humphreys’ interview with The Nottingham Post in full here.

Sign up for the latest news and must-read features from Stylist, so you don't miss out on the conversation.

By entering my email I agree to Stylist’s Privacy Policy

Images: BBC

Share this article

Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Recommended by Kayleigh Dray