Thursday 28 November 2013, 11:43
I've been directing Coming Home for three series now and it’s still a real honour to be a part of bringing someone’s ancestral past to life.
I was thrilled to hear the names of the celebrity guests we were getting this year for Coming Home. Coming Home Tanni Grey-Thompson
Each celebrity guest has their own reason why they want to journey into their family history. Some have wanted to do the programme after the loss of a parent and are hoping to learn more about their mum or dad.
Others are excited about seeing the family tree and want something to pass on to their children. Some are simply curious and that’s fine by us.
Whatever the reason for their involvement, we’re glad they feel passionately enough about Coming Home and give us their blessing to delve into their family’s personal history.
They know we may uncover just about anything and this year we made one of our most exciting discoveries ever.
As the producer and director, it’s my job to work out how to tell these stories in the most interesting and entertaining way possible. We spend weeks searching for great locations around Wales.
Programme one features the actor John Rhys-Davies. As a huge fan of Indiana Jones and the Lord of the rings trilogy, I was very excited about working with him.
I must admit that I do love quizzing our celebrity guests about their careers and John couldn't shut me up.
Beginning John’s story in Ammanford, we travelled throughout Carmarthenshire to tell him the inspirational story of his great-grandfather Thomas.
One of my favourite locations this year was Carreg Cennen Castle in Carmarthenshire. We took John there and it looked like a set from The Lord of the Rings.
Visiting new and exciting locations is one of the perks of working on this series.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with and we had some very exciting stories to reveal to her in programme two.
The stories primarily involved her great grandfather William’s World War One experiences. I won’t spoil it for you, but the story brought Tanni to tears and made her immensely proud of her ancestor.
Shakin’ Stevens, or ‘Shaky’ to his friends, was fun to work with and a childhood hero of mine. Shaky is the youngest of 13 children, so had a huge family to look into.
On Shaky’s journey, we were able to reveal the sad story of his grandmother Charlotte, who endured tragedy after tragedy.
Shaky didn't expect to get overly emotional, but his reaction to Charlotte’s story left him wiping away tears. We were able to take him to many dramatic locations around Wales and England.
Finally,John Humphrys. Known for his hard-hitting interviews on Radio 4, I was a little apprehensive before this shoot, even though I would be the one questioning him!
His story is the story of Cardiff Docks, where generations of his family lived and worked. We were delighted to be able to reveal something about his father’s heritage, which John knew nothing about.
John was thrilled to learn of this and said we managed to answer something, which had puzzled him for many, many years. He was then able to share this story with his brother Graham.
Moments like these are why I love making this programme.
In order to catch those moments, we film most items on two cameras. One camera is always on a close-up of the celebrity guest. You can only capture a genuine reaction once, so we ensure we don’t miss a thing.
The majority of the research in the series is conducted by our genealogist Mike Churchill-Jones.
We've been working together for five years and he has a huge talent for finding these incredible stories.
Genealogy is his passion, so he digs and digs relentlessly to discover great stories.
I hope you enjoy the series.
The new series of Coming Home starts Friday 29 November, 19:30, BBC One Wales.
Join the discussion...