Noni Hazlehurst hosts the new documentary series Every Family Has A Secret.
Noni Hazlehurst hosts the new documentary series Every Family Has A Secret. David Dare Parker

The home truths uncovered in new show will shock, surprise

LONG-lost siblings, international espionage and even war crimes are some of the astounding discoveries in a new genealogy series.

Every Family Has a Secret follows six everyday Aussies as they discover the truth about their family's past, confronting the secrets that have shaped them.

The three-part documentary series is produced by Artemis Media, the company behind the first seven seasons of Who Do You Think You Are? Australia.

"It still brings me to tears when I see some of the stories," host Noni Hazlehurst tells The Guide.

"Based on the reputation and track record of the people involved I knew I could trust them to not be in any way sensationalist or exploitative of the subjects.

"For me this is reality television. It's real stories, which are always far more fascinating than anything that can be invented."

Having gone through her own emotional process of unearthing family secrets on Who Do You Think You Are? last year, Hazlehurst understands the burning desire to know where we come from.

The award-winning actor brings a warmth and empathy to a process that isn't always supported by the subjects' families.

"There's something childlike in all of us that has this deep need to make sense of our own story," she says.

"I know when I did Who Do You Think You Are? I felt so privileged to have all these resources working to find out about my family.

"My role (in this series) is to help them to relax in front of the camera; it's not easy to do what they're doing. It's a measure of how much they want to find out these secrets that they are prepared to do it publicly."

While some of the stories are truly extraordinary - such as acrobat Li Ying who didn't even know her name or birth date before returning to where she was adopted in Taiwan - Hazlehurst believes every family has a mystery waiting to be solved.

"One of the strengths really is as an audience member you're constantly going 'Wow how would I feel?'," she says.

"In no way are these people exceptional. If you scratch the surface of any family then there will be something no one understands how it happened or why it happened. It reminds you we're all similar."

Even when shocking facts were uncovered, Hazlehurst says the subjects took comfort in finding closure.

"I always made sure to ask 'Do you regret beginning this whole process?' and every one of them said no," she says.

"Even though it may not have been easy at all they still felt a profound sense of satisfaction that they'd pursued it."

Every Family Has A Secret premieres on Tuesday at 7.30pm on SBS-TV.