A host of celebrities including Ed Balls, Dame Judi Dench, Pixie Lott, Joe Lycett, Alex Scott, Joe Sugg and Josh Widdicombe are set to unravel their family history in this new seven-part series.
Amongst his family history, Josh Widdicombe discovers an ancestor cut out of the family fortune and a courtier with intimate access to the King’s commode, whose story ends disastrously during the Civil War. From there it’s a dizzying journey back to Elizabethan and Tudor nobility, culminating in an incredible ancestral line.
Comedian and presenter Joe Lycett manages to find humour everywhere, but he discovers a darker family history as he finds out that his two-times-great grandfather was a boy chimney sweep in the 1850s who later joined the Royal Marines and travelled the world, but struggled to process his experiences.
At first, it looks like Ed Balls will uncover an heroic story when he looks into the life of an assistant ship’s surgeon, but the grim reality isn’t quite what he was hoping for. However, he uncovers a more inspiring story when investigating the life of an ancestor who lived through the agricultural depression of the 1820s.
Shakespearean actor, movie star and national treasure Dame Judi Dench seizes the chance to find out about her forebears in Who Do You Think You Are? starting with her father, Reginald – who never spoke of his experiences during the First World War. Travelling further into her family history, Judi’s investigations lead her to Denmark and nobility, where to her delight she discovers some incredible Shakespearean links.
Pixie Lott hopes to find the truth of the family story – that she has Italian ancestry from Verona – but the reality isn’t quite what she was searching for. She also learns of her great grandfather’s harrowing experiences in the First World War, along with discovering musical genes on her mother’s side of the family.
Alex Scott explores the Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side and learns that her great grandad faced down fascism in London’s East End in 1936. She travels to Jamaica to uncover history on the other side of the family and learns of tremendous hardship and suffering, as well as some uncomfortable and upsetting history.
YouTuber, actor and Strictly alumnus Joe Sugg enlists help from his big sister and fellow YouTuber Zoe to explore their family tree. He discovers a great-great-great grandfather who was involved in the earliest days of communication by telegraph, ancestors who fled religious persecution in France and a relative who survived the Great Fire of London.
Emily Smith, BBC Commissioning Editor for Documentaries, says: “We are very excited for this new series of Who Do You Think You Are? and for viewers to share in the extraordinary mix of personal celebrity histories taking us across the world, and which together reflect our rich collective history.”
Executive Producer for Wall to Wall, Colette Flight, says: “Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another line-up of Britain’s best-loved celebrities exploring their family histories across the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Jamaica. The incredible personal stories they unearth of their ancestors’ lives – from royal love triangles to labourers fighting for their rights, from Victorian child sweeps to battling fascists in London’s East end – reflect and illuminate all our collective history.”
Who Do You Think You Are? is produced by Wall To Wall Media for BBC One.
The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? launches on BBC One this October.