Alana and Lisa Macfarlane, presenters, DJs and mirror twins recently joined the biggest cohort of twins in the UK, TwinsUK, and visited our department on Friday 14th November to take part in their first ever twin visit. They were the subject of a number of tests whose results will now join a database with data from thousands of other twins. This huge resource of information will be used for research into ageing.
After the visit which took two and a half hours, we sat down with both twins to talk about their experience and tell us why joining TwinsUK is an important milestone for them.
How did you find your twin visit and was what you expected?
The visit was great fun. Not scary or medical, so this was a relief. We found it easy and we had plenty of opportunities for chatting and talking about the results. The tests were all fun and not at all scary. It was fascinating how our competitiveness streak kicked in and we were comparing results all the time.
When did you first become aware of the importance of twins in research?
Uhmm about two months ago. Actually we were aware all our lives that different things happened to us such as illness but we were both the constant. For example, we could not stop thinking why one of us got an illness and the other one not. We are asked what is similar among us all the time but we were interested more in our differences, for example one of us is right handed and the other one left handed.
What would you say to twins who are unsure about joining TwinsUK?
Say to yourself Why not? You will be benefiting science and the world, and will also get a medical check-up for free! If you think that the visit is like Willi Wonka and the TV room surrounded by people in white coats, you could not be more mistaken.
Do you have any interesting facts/stories about yourselves?
Lisa was born seven minutes past the hour and me (Alana) seven minutes to the hour. We always joke that Lisa got less attention as my father was so taken with me at the time of birth that did not have the time to wait for her.
Also, people always ask us if we are telepathic. I tell them that when I broke my arm, Lisa would complain of pain too… but it was not telepathy, just a way to get attention! Yes, I did sneakily try and deface her arm cast whilst she was asleep.
Being identical, have you found this to be an advantage or a disadvantage?
Both. In our field of work it has opened some doors but also closed others, mainly as a result of the precedents sent by other twins such as the Cheeky girls or Jedward. We need to fight to show that we are different from them.
How do you find other peoples fascination with you being identical twins?
We are aware that twins are the unicorns in the room and people tend to stare. We have had this all our lives and we found it normal, we thought that everyone stared at each other. Lisa is a great starer and looks back a lot. Overall we are so much in our cloud that we do not notice anymore.
We are very fascinated to be identical twins that dress the same as this is not something that we have done.
Interviewed by Kirsten and Victoria
TwinsUK wishes to thank Alana and Lisa for their time and generosity. All our twins are invaluable for us and the advancement of science.