Is The Secrets She Keeps a true story? Real kidnapping that inspired novel BBC series is based on explained

Australian BBC thriller series The Secrets She Keeps is inspired by a chilling real-life crime

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The Secrets She Keeps is an Australian thriller series that proves that, often, the truth can be stranger than fiction.

The series follows two women whose lives become interconnected after a chance meeting at a supermarket outside of Sydney.

The chilling plot is adapted from a novel which was in turn inspired by true crime that made national headlines in the 1990s.

The second season of thriller series The Secrets She Keeps is available to watch on Paramount+ now, and is also airing on BBC One weekly.

Laura Carmichael as Agatha in The Secrets She KeepsLaura Carmichael as Agatha in The Secrets She Keeps
Laura Carmichael as Agatha in The Secrets She Keeps

What is The Secrets She Keeps about?

The series follows two women, Meghan and Agatha, with very different lives who meet on one fateful day in a supermarket outside Sydney.

Meghan is pregnant, and Agatha becomes obsessed with her and what she sees as her perfect life.

In the first season of the show Agatha kidnapped Meghan’s baby from hospital shortly after he had been born and went on the run.

The second season with Agatha behind bars and Meghan reunited with her baby, but season two follows both women as their lives continue to insect, even while living on opposite sides of prison walls.

Is The Secrets She Keeps based on a true story?

The series is based on a book of the same name by Australian writer Michael Robotham.

Horror writer Stephen King praised the novel, saying it was: “A book you won’t be able to put down, although you may occasionally want to hide your eyes”.

Robotham’s novel was inspired by a shocking kidnapping case, though not from Robotham’s native Australia - the crime actually occurred in the UK.

In 1994, Julie Kelley, a 22-year-old dental nurse who had recently been dumped by her boyfriend told him that she was pregnant with a baby boy in an effort to win him back.

The gambit paid off, but there was one major problem - Kelley was not pregnant.

So, in order to complete the ruse, Kelley set out to get her hands on a newborn baby.

Jessica De Gouw as MeghanJessica De Gouw as Meghan
Jessica De Gouw as Meghan

She entered Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham dressed in medical scrubs, approached Roger Humphries, the father of three hour old Abbie, and told him that she needed to take her for a hearing test.

Karen, the baby’s mother, soon realised something was wrong and when Kelley did not return with their baby a huge police operation was launched.

The search for Abbie took an agonising 17 days during which time Karen and Roger didn’t know if their child was alive or dead.

Finally, police recovered Abbie from Kelley’s home in Nottingham after they were tipped off that she had celebrated the birth of her baby girl despite previously claiming that she was having a boy.

Somehow, Kelley avoided jail time for her crime and was sentenced to three year’s probation - she gave birth to a baby of her own the following year.

At the time of the kidnapping, Robotham was working as a journalist in London, and the story must have left an impression on him because it was more than 20 years later that his novel was published.

Several changes were made in the fictionalised version of events - the setting was moved to Australia, and whereas Kelley and the Humphries didn’t know each other, Meghan and Agatha had met at the time of the kidnapping.

When is The Secrets She Keeps season 2 on TV?

All episodes of seasons 1-2 of The Secrets She Keeps are available to watch now on Paramount+ and on BBC iPlayer now.

The second season is also airing weekly on BBC One, with episode two being broadcast at 9.20pm on Saturday 20 August.