‘Vanished: The Search for Britain’s Missing People’ Recap

Over the course of four weeks, we at Missing People worked alongside Channel 5 to produce ‘Vanished: The Search for Britain’s Missing People’, a one-of-a-kind show to highlight the crisis of missing.

Each one-hour episode profiled multiple families who have been affected by the issue of missing, as well as highlighting the essential services that Missing People can provide to those who have reached a crisis point and feel the need to disappear.

The show was presented by Dan Walker, who had previously explored the issue of missing in a one-off interview with Nicola Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell shortly after Nicola’s disappearance.

Each week of ‘Vanished’ provided a new opportunity for long-term cases to reach a wider audience, and the families of four missing people: Claudia Lawrence, Craig Hetherington, Luke Durbin and Anthony Stammers were invited into the studio to discuss their cases.

Each episode also featured urgent missing appeals from the previous week, though the majority of these people are found within 24-48 hours, and our services team worked diligently to ensure the most up-to-date appeals were featured.

Impact on our Helpline

Viewers of the show were directed to call 116 000, the Missing People Helpline, and our Helpline advisors were inundated with calls.

These calls ranged from those who were thinking of going missing and wanting support, members of the public reporting sightings of missing people, and people who had seen the show calling just to hear more about the services we can offer.

On average, we received nearly 50% more Helpline contacts on the days that the Vanished programme aired compared to typical demand over the last 3 months.

The following is an example from our Helpline staff of a call from someone who had tuned in and decided to reach out:

We received a call from the mother of a missing person, she reported her daughter as missing recently. She believes her daughter might be in some sort of trouble.

She said she was watching ‘Vanished’ and called as she hasn’t heard back from the Police since she reported her daughter as missing.

The caller started crying when she told me that the Police “Didn’t even ask for a photograph”.

She had never heard of our charity until she watched the programme, but we were able to provide her with the support she needed.

Aftermath of the series

Overall, the show was incredibly well received, with over one million views per episode, and a number of new people contacting our Helpline who otherwise may not have known about our support services.

We would like to thank everyone at Channel 5 for their kind, supportive, and sensitive approach towards the issue of missing, and for giving families a vital platform to refresh the appeal for their missing loved one on national television.

Thank you also to Dan Walker, who visited our office to learn more about the work that we do, and who extended such compassion to each family featured on the show, so they felt comfortable talking about their missing loved one.

As announced on the final episode of ‘Vanished’, there will be a second series airing later this year, so be sure to keep an eye out for further details.

Watch ‘Vanished’

To watch all of the first series, and find out more about missing, including the services Missing People can offer, and how you can help, visit our ‘Vanished’ webpage.

Go to ‘Vanished’ webpage


Sign up to be a Digital Search Hero

We have launched a regular email so that you can be aware of new missing person appeals and share them far and wide! We are also calling on all Heroes to be the eyes and ears for Missing People on the ground. Your sighting of a missing person could make a difference in a crucial time.