Mark Gatiss is someone who has always enjoyed storytelling with a particular passion for the ghoulish and so it comes as no surprise that it is in his genes. Researching his family history back five generations in Northern Ireland he found a tale of rags to riches for one member of his family and that he is descended from storytellers who just may have possibly been vampire slayers!
Countryfile presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Anita Rani was born in Yorkshire to Indian parents. But it is her maternal grandfather's story in the turbulent period of Partition that takes Anita to the Punjab to see if she can find out more.
Frank Gardner, the BBC’s Security Correspondent, is the son of British diplomats and he turns out to be not the only member of his family to have had a brush with death as a result of his occupation. It is Frank’s ancestors from the Tudor age and back to Norman times, however, that he is most interested in discovering more about. Research has turned up a powerful man in his family tree who falls from grace to pay the ultimate price.
Acclaimed British actress Anne Reid MBE, discovers that her family tree features ancestors who were solicitor’s clerks in Liverpool, but who came originally from Scotland. Tracing further back in the records she is upset to find that one of her forebears was transported to Australia from Scotland for fraud, after previously being thought of as respectable.
Choirmaster, Gareth Malone, is not the first in his family to perform to an audience. Music and drama is in his blood. From an ancestor that appeared at King George’s Coronation Gala to a Dublin impresario.
Model and former wife of Sir Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall is a Texan who moved to Europe. Her father’s family, however, emigrated to the USA from Lancashire in the 1880s. Jerry’s mother’s side were from pioneering roots, trailing west across America at the time of the Frontier.
Sir Derek George Jacobi's story is one of equal contrasts. Though he is from working class roots in London, with a boot maker for a grandfather, as we delve further back in time we discover that his family are from much grander stock, one having mixed with Louis the Sun King until his religious belief had him imprisoned and he escaped to England.
The family story of Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, known better by her stage name of Jane Seymour, is an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. Her Father’s family are Jewish while her mother was a Dutch Protestant who had endured being in a Second World War Japanese concentration camp.
Celebrity baker and chef Paul John Hollywood follows his beloved grandfather’s footsteps through war torn Africa and North Italy. Paul also follows a maternal line to eventually find that he is descended from a crofter in the Highlands with an unusual and very physical second job.
Executive Producer for Wall to Wall, Colette Flight, says: "Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another fantastic line-up of much-loved faces, uncovering hidden history by bringing our celebrities' ancestors to life. Following our best-known stars on their personal journey into their family trees reveals extraordinary stories, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always compelling."
Our ancestor's employment details are an important part of social history and when we attach them to a family tree it becomes all the richer for it. Now that TheGenealogist has added over 62,000 rail worker records to its original online indexes of Railway Employment Records, it is easier than ever to delve into those who once worked for the Railway companies in a great variety of occupations all across the country.
The BBC TV programme Banished, set in the penal colony of New South Wales in 1788, has dramatized the brutal lives of the convicts transported overseas and the men sent out to guard them. While the series is a work of fiction, some characters appear to be based on real people who were convicts transported to Australia in the First Fleet.
The BBC2 TV programme on Horatio Nelson (Friday 6th March 2015) centres on what the famous Admiral wrote in his letters to reveal a more complex man than the hero created after his death. It is not just his correspondence, however, that can be used to understand the great man further as we can also discover a great deal more about him from the words that he included in his will and codicils.
Tithes are a rich resource for family historians to find their ancestors within. They cover owners and occupiers of land from all strata of society in early Victorian times and for the first time they can be searched all on one website at TheGenealogist.
Ancestors that fell foul of the law are always fascinating subjects for family history research. The chance to unearth a felon from within the records can be an exciting prospect.
Every year the popular BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? brings us a host of new and exciting stories. We have taken a look at each celebrity as they journey into their family history, and you can read about their discoveries in our articles.
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