Who Do They Think They Are?: 10 Years, 100 Shows
Confirmed for BBC One on 6 August at 10.35pm to 11.35pm
Wednesday 6 August
BBC ONE BBC ONE HDNEW
One hundred celebrities have been on a genealogical mystery tour and there have been shocks and surprises, laughter and tears. Who Do You Think You Are? has taken viewers on a journey through the past lives of family favourites such as Bruce Forsyth, Patsy Kensit, Jeremy Clarkson, Boris Johnson, Ainsley Harriot, Davina McCall, Graham Norton, JK Rowling, Barbara Windsor, Stephen Fry, Natasha Kaplinsky, Gary Lineker and Nigel Havers, to discover stories of heroism and happiness, as well as pain and personal tragedy. From workhouse to royal palaces, prisons to parliament, brothel to bedlam, the series has found heroes, villains, royalty and rogues.
This is the series that saw Jeremy Paxman reduced to tears over the plight of his great grandparents; plotted Alexander Armstrong’s illustrious line back to William the Conqueror; saw Kim Cattrall’s horror at uncovering her grandfather’s secret family; told London Mayor Boris Johnson that he was descended from European Royalty; connected Barbara Windsor to the famous landscape artist John Constable; led Alistair McGowan to a life changing discovery - his Scottish ancestry is in fact Indian; made Alex Kingston blush when she discovered her ancestors ran a brothel; united entertainment legend Bruce Forsyth with an American branch of his family whom he was connected to through his elusive great grandfather’s bigamy, and almost had its own Who Do You Think You Are? baby, when pregnant Emilia Fox thought she might go into labour during filming.
Notes To Editors: Quotes featured in the special
Jeremy Paxman opens up about those famous tears: “I was surprised by how viscerally I reacted, and I don’t know what one learns from that really. There is a curious charge about the personal experience. The fact that it’s someone in your family gives it a life that it would never acquire if you simply read about it.
“When you discover somebody’s life story and the adversity they faced, of course it has an effect on you and I was terribly moved, as was evident.”
And describes what he thinks make the programmes unusual...
“The shaft of light that can be created by this sort of programme, I think is very revealing and very often tells you more about how human beings are - that's the fascinating thing, isn't it?”
Bruce Forsyth talks about taking part in the series:
“I loved it. I never knew what the people were going to say and I never knew what I was going to say.”
And about his great grandfather disappearing to start a new life with a new woman:
“He was elusive to say the least of it. How can you leave a family of six? Okay, I had three wives but I could never have walked out on six children and my wives the way he did...”
Bruce on why he thinks people love the show:
“People are nosy! They love to know where they came from. I think we’re all inquisitive”
Alexander Armstrong, whose journey revealed he was descended from Edward III & William the Conqueror:
“It’s a bit like going for a procedure, I’ll try to put this as delicately as I can – where they put a camera up you – because it’s very personal!
“It's a sort of whodunit really. It's detective work. It's a mystery. We all love a mystery.”
And tells how it felt to uncover his royal roots, and how his twitter followers reacted:
“People who followed me on twitter had said how smug I looked...when I discovered I had royal connections.”
Emilia Fox describes what she thinks is so compelling about the programme:
“It's just the great skill of the programme and the great excitement of it. You are finding out about your family like you are your own family detective.”
Alistair McGowan talks about the shock of discovering he wasn’t who he thought he was:
“I was sure with my name and the number of people who seem to accept me as a Scot, that that was where my time on the programme would be spent. Not at all!”
And reveals just how surprised he was on discovering his Indian roots:
“Meeting all the other McGowan’s in Allahabad was extraordinary. They were all in that one little enclave. It was extraordinary. ...In the middle of Allahabad and suddenly there was this tiny little bit, ‘McGowan... McGowan... McGowan. “
Boris Johnson on the childhood story that his Granny Butter told, claiming she was descended from royalty:
“We thought she was wildly exaggerating her claims, and it turned out she was right!”
Ainsley Harriot reveals how he felt on visiting a church that honoured the slave owner who owned his great, great, great grandmother.
“I wanted to have a reaction for the hurt that my ancestors had endured for that time.”
And on what happens when you are not who you think you are
“You know there’s John Hurt thinking he was Irish or my friend Alistair [McGowan] who’s thinking I’m Scottish, and I’m more Scottish then Alistair!”
Natasha Kaplinsky, reveals when she realised her journey was going to take a dark turn:
“The first time I discovered we were going to uncover some very dark secrets was when I was met at the airport by Benny, my father’s cousin. The team had rightly decided that the discoveries I was going to make in Belarus were probably a bit much to do on my own, so they needed to bring someone in to share the burden of it. I’d only met Benny once when I was one and they’d flown him all the way from Australia, at that point I knew things were going to get very dark.”
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