“People probably think it’s strange to have 10 children - but we think it’s strange that anyone can purposely stop at one,” says Emma.
“Our kids give us so much pleasure. They all have different talents and bring something special to this family, I can’t understand why anyone would only want one, or not want to give their child brothers and sisters,” she says.
Though she and Lee, who starred in an episode of Wife Swap four years ago, didn’t set out to have a super-brood. “Our family just evolved,” she says, explaining sometimes contraception didn’t work and, when she found out she was pregnant yet again, she would see it as another life meant to be.
She does admit, though, that the death of her little brother when he was just five years old is probably an underlying reason.
“He died of encephalitis when I was 11 and the loss was so painful. Home felt so empty without him. My mother did have another baby, my sister who is now 25, but I will never forget how awful it felt to be the only child and grieving,” she acknowledges.
Barnsley-born Lee believes the reason he became dad to such a large brood also lies in his own childhood. He had become so unhappy at home he ran away at 14. He ended up in the most dire circumstances. He lived rough, first in Manchester, then London, and spiralled into hard drugs. He was beaten and abused by older boys, but some survival instinct made him head back to Manchester to seek help at a charity for the homeless. “I arrived a physical wreck and severely depressed; they helped me, gave me counselling and somewhere to live,” he says.
“What got to me was the fact that my parents didn’t come looking for me. If one of my children ran away, I couldn’t stop looking until I found them. But there’s no point in being angry with everyone else. Instead I set about being the best dad I could be – 10 times over!” The family is now complete, though. “We’re definitely stopping at 10,” added Emma.