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11 March 2006


Sandi Toksvig takes a journey into the past and looks at the phenomenon which has become known as ancestry tourism.  People from across the globe claim to be descended from British emigrants and many spurred on by their own genealogical research are coming to visit the UK to trace their roots.  Equally the descendants of those who stayed at home are now seeking out the branches of the family who went abroad to colonise the empire.

Sandi is joined by genealogical travellers John McCracken and Ryan Ewer and Ewan Colville from Ancestral Scotland and Deirdre Livingstone VisitBritain's Head of Project for the Jamestown 2007 campaign, to find out what renewing family ties means for the tourist trade.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

Ardwell farm near Kyneton in Victoria, Australia (Copyright: John McCracken)

Photo: Ardwell farm near Kyneton in Victoria, Australia
Col Henderson, present owner and John McCracken
The original kitchen of the first farm house can be seen behind on the left. The farm was created by a relative of John McCracken in 1855 and named after his parents' farm in Ayrshire, Scotland

Dr John McCracken is a senior lecturer recently retired from the history department at Stirling University. He has taught for years in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Malawi. John inherited about 120 letters in a trunk full of family papers when his father died in the early eighties.  The letters were sent to Scotland from Australia by his McCracken forebears. Two brothers, farmers from South West Scotland, who had emigrated to Victoria in the 1840s, when Melbourne was only five years old and a town of 4,000 people.

Ryan Ewer is a marketing manager and comes from Seattle. Last May he moved to London with his wife and children. He was inspired to settle in the UK because his family background is British. His parents came over in the summer for three months and together they set about researching their family background.

Ewan Colville is one of the people behind Ancestral Scotland a website specifically designed to attract visitors from abroad and help them forage about in the various records offices.

Deirdre Livingstone is VisitBritain's Head of Project for the Jamestown 2007 campaign which is helping to mark the 400th anniversary of the earliest permanent English settlement in America . On a personal level, Deirdre has traced her ancestors many generations back and they include the great explorer whose name she shares and also John Rolfe, the English settler who married Princess Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan in 1614.

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info

John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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