The Gift opens with the following intention: to “help people to finally say what needs to be said”. To be honest, The Gift’s concept is pretty simple: one or two individuals who are trying to find a special person in their lives to whom they desperately want to say ‘sorry’ or ‘thank you’.
The show feels a bit like a spin-off of Who Do You Think You Are? and Heir Hunters, albeit much more interesting and heart-wrenching. In the first episode, an elderly woman looks for her childhood sweetheart, Herman, who moved to the US 58 years prior, after she made the mistake of having a dalliance with another man. Elsewhere, a soldier who lost the use of both his arms when he got hit by a mortar explosion attempts to find the man who saved his life when he landed a helicopter in an IRA hotspot and took him to the hospital.
Matt Baker and Mel Giedroyc (who does more frowning here than on the Bake Off), drive around and have meetings with various professionals or friends of friends, asking them if they can help them break any ground in trying to find these elusive individuals.
I could be cynical and tell you how it feels slightly contrived; about googling national registries on laptops in busy cafés, or the plastering of Sigur Rós-like compositions over weepy retellings, or even the purposeful walking around and earnest looks into the camera. I could even tell you how it feels a bit less like an investigation, and more like an intrusive prying into people’s lives.
But that would be unfair, because the idea behind this show is one with which we can all connect, and which should be commended in this day of Big Brother and Made in Chelsea excessiveness. It’s endearing; you’re reminded of fleeting time and how saying sorry and thank you are so vastly underrated. There’s a poignancy in the idea of being given a second chance to put things right, and this is why this show will succeed.