Planet Child: New ITV documentary sees 7-year-old Sussex twins navigate London alone
Seven-year-old twins from Sussex will navigate their way around London with no adult supervision during a daring TV experiment which will air tonight (May 1).
Judah and Darcee Rose are set to star in the first episode of a new three-part ITV documentary called Planet Child at 9pm.
The show presents a series of scientific experiments to delve deep into the way children experience life across Britain and the world today.
The twins, who live in Horsham with their parents Tim and Beccie and three-year-old twin brothers Jaxon and Hudson who will also appear in the show, were one of three groups aged from four to seven who were tasked with various challenges including getting themselves across the busy capital on a bus and taking a trip on the London Eye unaided.
Mum Beccie said: “You never really know how kids are going to respond to a task that is so out of their comfort zone but in all the experiments, they just went all in.
It is great that they have had this opportunity to take part in an experiment which has allowed them to have a level of freedom that our culture just wouldn’t allow.
“When I was a kid, we left our front door open and was able to roam fairly freely (without mobile phones) and it wasn’t really out of the ordinary but these days, you just can’t do that.”
Planet Child is presented by twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken who contrast the freedom given to children in other parts of the world to the ‘wrapped-in-cotton-wool’ existence British children have.
During the show, we find out how other cultures do it including how a a six-year-old boy in Tokyo routinely travels alone across the city to get to school.
One task for Judah, Darcee and the other British children sees them meet presenters Chris and Xand in a London park who give each group a map, and the instruction that they must find their way out of the park, via the souvenir shop, and to the correct bus stop, where they must catch the right bus to the London Eye.
The special buses are fitted with hidden cameras, and chaperones are around the park and onboard the buses to observe the children, with camera operators keeping a distance meaning that the children are otherwise on their own.
As the children set off across the park, Judah and Darcee get lost and walk around in circles before making it to the bus stop and onto the bus.
Beccie added: “In London, the whole experiment was under tight security and the twins were safe at all times but the difference is, they didn’t know that.
“They didn’t know that the bus was rigged with cameras and ‘actors’ so for them, it was real.
“That was part of the experiment; to see how they reacted when faced with each task as it happened.
“They were a bit apprehensive at first and they did get a bit lost at the beginning but they were so chuffed to complete the task that it was really quite emotional.
“When they arrived at the London Eye, Darcee especially said that she felt so grown up and her face was just a picture of delight and accomplishment.”
Another task as part of the programme included having a 6ft python in the family’s front room.
Once again staged for safety, the twins entered the room and came face to face with the python which was slithering freely on the coffee table.
Beccie said: “They had no idea it was there until that moment and their reaction was priceless - Judah was so excited but I genuinely wasn’t sure if he would love or hate it.
“At one point he bent down so close to the snake that they were literally eye to eye - amazing!”
The family got involved in the programme after Beccie saw an advert online asking for families to come forward.
She added: “When I read the brief, and the fact that it is the same production company as ‘The Secret Life…’, knew it would be an interesting documentary.
“So we applied and went through a rigorous process of casting, interviews and physcological profiling (safeguarding the children) and the rest is history.”
The family now plan to watch the show together with friends and the twins will stay up late especially.
Beccie, who said the twins thrived and surprised her with how they got on, said: “The different experiments that the kids have had the chance to experience has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Not just being part of filming ans seeing all the behind the scenes stuff but the trip to London, the ‘risky’ play in our back garden that was set up and having a snake in the front room was all something that will stay with us as a family – what a memory!”
Planet Child will air tonight (Wednesday May 1) on ITV at 9pm.