A sensitive look at how families adapt to unique circumstances
ITV’s two-part documentary Extraordinary twins open with a woman seam. “Nowhere does clothing for Siamese twins,” sighed Chelsea, the Idaho mother, cutting a strip of magenta fabric. I’m still worried that the Siamese twins TV was an exploitation, but this scene showing her sewing an outfit for her daughters, who are attached to the breastbone, was typical of a program that offered a sensitive and heartbreaking exploration of the way in which families adapt to the singular conditions.
Most of the attention in this first episode, narrated by Sheridan Smith, was on Chelsea, her partner, Nick, and their daughters: “the queen of domestic drama” Callie and “the idiot” Carter.
As the twins approached their fourth birthday, Chelsea and Nick were debating whether to have surgery to separate them. It was a heartbreaking decision: the operation could be life threatening, but the couple feared health issues and resentments that could develop without it.
Your guide to what to watch next – no spoilers, I promise
In a subsequent segment, Chelsea and Nick visited Aida Sandoval, mother of six-year-old Erika and Eva, who were born fused from the chest down but are now separated. Aida urged them to consider surgery. They also met Carmen and Lupita, 20, who could not be separated. “Adults have asked us, ‘Oh my god, are you aliens? ”, Said Carmen, incredulous in dismay.
A separate stream followed the work of surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital as they embarked on a series of risky procedures to separate a pair of 17-month-old twins. Both a gripping glimpse of astonishing medical expertise – and a touching look at parenting, family dynamics and how society responds to difference.
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