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Is The Secrets She Keeps based on a true story? How a real-life kidnap case inspired series and book

The Australian drama starring Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael is inspired by a real-life child kidnapping case in Britain.

Published: Monday, 6th July 2020 at 5:01 pm

Based on Michael Robotham’s best-selling novel of the same name, The Secrets She Keeps is a dark Australian drama starring Downton Abbey actress Laura Carmichael.


The series focuses on two (seemingly) expectant mothers, who bond over their shared experience despite their differing backgrounds. However, when a newborn baby is kidnapped from a hospital, chaos ensues and secrets are revealed.

The six-part series is based on Robotham’s book - which in turn was inspired by a real-life case. Read on for everything you need to know about the show's link to an infamous child kidnapping case in Britain.

Is The Secrets She Keeps inspired by a true story?

The book version of The Secrets She Keeps is written by Michael Robotham, an Australian writer and journalist who worked on The Mail on Sunday in the UK during the 1990s - coinciding with one of Britain's most infamous child kidnapping cases.

In 1994, newborn baby Abbie Sundgren was stolen just three hours after her birth by a woman posing as a nurse, who claimed that Abbie needed a hearing test.

Abbie's abduction took place at Nottingham’s Queen's Medical Centre, and she was missing for 17 days before she was found by police in Nottingham suburb Wollaton, and reunited with her parents, Karen and Roger Humphries. Throughout the 17 days, newspapers and news outlets closely followed the search for 'Baby Abbie'.

Who kidnapped Abbie Sundgren?

The culprit was revealed to be Julie Kelley, a former dental nurse with a personality disorder, and who had been faking a pregnancy in order to save a relationship.

The TV series is inspired by the book's loose retelling of the real-life story, setting the events not in Nottingham, but in an affluent Sydney suburb, and focussing on a supermarket shelf-stacker, Agatha (played by Laura Carmichael), who befriends a wealthy, pregnant 'mummy-blogger'.


The Secrets She Keeps will begin in the UK on BBC One on Monday 6th July at 9pmIf you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.


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