St Albans businessman is kidnapped by kids for TV show
PUBLISHED: 20:01 19 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010
WORKAHOLIC Lester Adams was so obsessed with his business that he had even bought a sofa bed so he could sleep there overnight. But little did he know that his two children, desperately missing quality time with their dad, were secretly plotting to kidnap
WORKAHOLIC Lester Adams was so obsessed with his business that he had even bought a sofa bed so he could sleep there overnight.
But little did he know that his two children, desperately missing quality time with their dad, were secretly plotting to kidnap him as part of a Channel 4 reality TV show.
Lester established the Big Space in the Southdown Industrial Estate in Harpenden with his wife Sue around four years ago, after they spotted a gap in the market for an indoor children's play centre which provides a welcoming environment for parents.
But as the business grew it left Lester, aged 44, spending seven days a week at work and he was sleeping there several nights a week.
He said: "I had it in my head that I was working hard for my family, providing for them. And then the sleeping over started because we had been robbed five times in six months. But it got a bit addictive and I started thinking that I may as well stay over other nights if I was starting early the next day, and it ended up becoming a few nights a week."
Keen to give his business some publicity in the recession Lester, of Oakwood Drive, St Albans, signed up for a TV show which he thought was about the work/life balance.
But while the cameras were filming him in action, the TV crews were also working with Sue and their two children Maddy and Ross, who are now aged 13 and nine respectively.
Then, two months after filming started, Lester's family showed up at the Big Space to deliver the shock news that they were kidnapping him for two weeks.
He said: "I walked through the door and my family and all the staff were lined up, I wasn't expecting it at all. It was such a shock, especially to see my boy who was only eight at the time make a little speech - I could hardly breathe. It was upsetting to listen to them say their little speeches and think of them sitting down writing it alone in their bedrooms."
Stripped of his phone, laptop and Blackberry, Lester was whisked straight away for an action-packed week in Wales which was their first holiday together for many years.
He then had to spend a week at home during which time he visited Maddy and Ross's schools to meet their friends and find out more about their lives.
Despite his concerns, the business survived without him and the whole experience has proved to be a life-changing one.
Lester explained: "I've learnt that the family needs me more than they let on. I got set on working hard and paying the bills, but being a good husband and father is about being around to answer questions and actually being with them in my mind.
"I was getting home at about 7.30pm most days but I was working on my laptop and not really spending any time with them, even though I was there. Most Wednesdays I would see them in the morning and cook them pancakes, but I'd still be talking about work."
Lester said things were very different immediately following the filming earlier this year, but his business manager has recently left placing more pressure on him and he is starting to fall back into bad habits.
Although he no longer takes his work home, he has only slept over twice since the filming and he remains committed to spending as much time with his family as possible.
Kidnapped by the Kids will appear on Channel 4 on Thursday, October 1, at 9pm.