Wednesday 24 Sep 2014
BBC One's smash hit genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? is encouraging computer novices to go online and research their own genealogy as part of the BBC's First Click campaign.
The series delves deep into celebrity family ancestry, uncovering a host of hidden pasts and shock revelations.
In this week's programme, EastEnders and Gavin and Stacey star Larry Lamb investigates a family mystery. Larry was well into adulthood when he discovered that his mother, Jessie, was adopted as a baby. At the age of 84, Jessie has recently accessed her adoption files and shares them with Larry.
His search uncovers extraordinary photographs of relatives who were lion tamers and showmen; he sees a picture of his grandfather for the first time and discovers that he has a long-lost relative. Suspecting that the family emigrated, a search of passenger lists confirms this.
Larry tells Programme Information: "My mum had always nursed this dream that she would meet her mum again, so when this programme was offered, I thought this would be a good thing for her.
"It was all surprises – the whole female side and the male side were a complete surprise. I had no idea at all about these people, other than the names on a certificate.
"It was the things that I discovered about these people that I was related to that made me understand more about me. I had always figured that I was a kind of a 'Johnny come lately' who had tumbled into the entertainment business by accident when, in actual fact, I was probably at least part way genetically programmed to be in it.
"Who did I think I was before? I knew I didn't really know; now I'm better informed. And that's what it's like for everybody. I think that's why the programme is so popular because it's a common thread in everybody – this inquisitiveness about where they have come from."
As part of the First Click campaign, Larry is presenting a series of three fascinating films, available on the BBC's Red Button, in which experts explain how viewers new to computers can use some of the key resources available to the amateur family historian.
Each film features examples and stories from the current series highlighting how passenger lists, birth, marriage and death certificates, census returns, Army Service records, foreign records and Poor Law records can all be accessed online.
Taking part in the series, says Larry, has made him slightly more curious.
"I was rather interested to find that there are people alive now who I am directly blood related to whose existence I knew nothing of. It's made me more curious in that obviously there are elements to what we discovered that remain unknown, like nobody knows where my grandfather went."
A special family history guide for new computer users offering advice, tips and encouragement to get online is available at www.bbc.co.uk/firstclick and at venues running the popular First Click beginners courses.
The family history pack is just one of a new series of inspirational guides produced by BBC Learning containing helpful step-by-step instructions. Other new guides available later this year include: where to search on the internet for advice on how to save money; a health check and wellbeing guide; and sport in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics.
Notes to editors
• First Click is a BBC Learning campaign, designed to inspire people who currently don't use the internet to understand its benefits and get online with an easy introduction.
• In partnership with Race Online 2012, UK online centres, Age UK, the Post Office, libraries and community partners, the BBC is supporting this major media literacy campaign to encourage the estimated 8.7 million people in the UK who have never used the internet to take the first steps to get online.
• Throughout the country, local libraries and community centres are running First Click Beginners' Computer Courses to help people understand the internet and enjoy its many benefits. UK online centres in England are also offering introductory sessions
• Thousands of people have already called the free advice line and signed up for a computer course in their local area. For those who would like information about courses available near them, all they have to do is ring the Freephone advice line 08000 150 950. Lines are open 8am-10pm, 7 days a week.
• Look out for details of family history events taking place later this year.
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