From Gorleston to New Zealand, as millions watch

IT is a momentous decision to make – leaving family, friends and everything you know to start life again 12,000 miles away.

But one Gorleston family taking the plunge have had something else to contend with, as their every move was caught by the watchful gaze of a film crew’s cameras for a programme likely to be watched by millions.

For 40-year-old Andrew Mannall, who appeared with his wife and three children in the BBC show Wanted Down Under yesterday morning, the laid-back lifestyle of New Zealand has long appealed.

The financial adviser said: “I’ve wanted to do it for more than 10 years, and it’s something we’ve talked about for quite a long time.

“The climate is like ours, it’s not boiling like in Australia and don’t have the things like spiders there, and there’s a lot more space and people are just so friendly.

“It was always something I dreamed about but it never went any further because of family issues.”

Instead Andrew and his wife Tracy, 39, took to watching their favourite travel show, which portrays those hoping to move take a trip to either New Zealand or Australia before making their minds up, week in and week out.

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However, prompted by an economic situation that was making Andrew’s work life difficult, and the approval of Tracy’s mother, they applied to the programme alongside thousands of others.

And it was following a series of interviews they got the shock of their lives.

Andrew explained: “When I got the call it was a real mixture of excitement in that we’d done it and then a case of ‘oh my God what have we done’ as it was a double-edged sword.”

Quickly, they redecorated their house on Upper Cliff Road for the estate agents viewing it as part of the programme, and got a lesson in the practicalities of making a TV show.

“We had three days filming at our house and the cameramen were great but let’s just say now we can’t watch reality programmes on TV,” said Tracy. “Everything takes six or seven takes, and it took 45 minutes just to make scrambled eggs for breakfast!”

It was in February 2010 that Andrew and Tracy, along with Olivia, 12, Abigail, 10, and Harvey, three, finally made the long-haul trip to New Zealand, and spent the first week being filmed in Christchurch.

And it was after meeting locals, taking their children to local schools and a day’s work experience for Andrew, who described the whole thing as “exhausting”, that they spent another week travelling by themselves and realised they wanted to go for it.

Now, having sold their home, Andrew has a job arranged and they wait with bated breath for news of a visa approval.

Tracy, a part-time legal cashier, said: “We don’t know how long that could take but we want to get out there by February. If we don’t get out there now after coming this far it would be incredibly hard as we’ve gone through emotional turmoil.”

Speaking ahead of the programme’s broadcasting, she added: “I’ve got my cushion ready to hide behind when I watch it.”

l One of the family loved ones the Mannalls will be leaving behind is their nine-year-old greyhound Deedee. Ahead of their trip they are looking for a kind, considerate animal lover to take her on permanently. Anyone interested should contact Andrew on 07775 621168.