Wow, this was certainly a twinfest; they were everywhere and the show was even presented by identical twins, doctors Chris and Xand Van Tulleken. And the big question was, which is more dominant in our pathology and psychopathology – nature or nurture?
This is of course a question that’s alternately plagued and fascinated us all, but science loving types are especially interested in answering that question, and twins – particularly ones who’ve been separated – may offer the answers.
So it was little surprise then that the biology and psychology boffins were happier than pigs in sh*t when they heard about Alexandra and Mia, twins separated at birth and raised thousands of miles apart in very different cultures.
The girls’ families had met by chance – or did fate engineer the meeting I wonder, to bring these two little souls back together? – and recognised the striking similarities in their adopted children. DNA tests confirmed that the girls were indeed twins, and a meeting was arranged.
And it seems that nature, in their case, has in fact played a huge part in shaping the people they are, albeit that they are still very young, but when they met – which was a real tearjerker by the way – they more or less instantly fell into a parallel way of ‘being’.
The language barrier was as nothing to these little girls who were soon dressing alike, giggling in synch and becoming increasingly inseparable. Mia’s Norwegian mum remarked, “They’re more than just friends; they’re really sisters now.”
And they were, so it was heartbreaking to watch them having to leave each other to go back to their respective homes.
But along the way, we met and heard from a number of twins who had startling stories to tell. For instance, one set of twins who were, like Alexandra and Mia, raised thousands of miles apart, were, on the face of it, very different. One loved his beer, cigs and junk food while the other was a health freak and fitness fanatic, but both developed clogged arteries and resulting heart disease at the same time.
Similar tales of how nature will out were heard from twins all over the world, and it was rather like having some kind of seizure when we witnessed hundreds of clone-like folks at the twins’ summer fête at St Thomas’ Hospital.
All in all, this was a very interesting film, but if it aimed to be primarily a scientific discovery based documentary, it failed, but if it was a humanistic approach to stories of nature versus nurture, then it worked very well.
My only niggle is that it’s proved impossible to attribute quotes to the presenters; with them being identical twins, I couldn’t tell them apart!
If you missed this moving and often jaw dropping film, you can see it again here, on BBC’s iPlayer.