Five celebrities trace their family trees to reveal the lives of their ancestors and explore major themes in British social history.
Kevin Whately, famous for playing working-class characters, has a surprisingly affluent family history. Kevin begins his journey in his home town of Newcastle where he investigates the career of his grandmother Doris, a singer who he believes failed to fulfil her true potential. Doris's father was the self-made 'fishing king' of the north-east, and Kevin next tries to discover what became of his fortune and the business empire he built.
Delving much further back, Kevin uncovers an 18th century ancestor who was a turkey trader. Intrigued that he could descend from a Georgian Bernard Matthews, he investigates further, but the truth he uncovers is even more surprising. The trail leads him to the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and to a vast country estate in Surrey.
Kevin then pushes his family tree into the 17th century, where he is amazed to discover that his ancestors, the Thomson brothers, were among the richest and most powerful men of their time. Not only were they close associates of Oliver Cromwell, but their fortune, made in the new colonies of America and West Indies, helped fund the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War.