Show-stopping line up announced for the 21st UK series of the ever-popular genealogy TV series

Show-stopping line up announced for the 21st UK series of the ever-popular genealogy TV series

Who Do You Think You Are? is back!

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist


The BBC has announced that the popular family history show, Who Do You Think You Are? will be returning to BBC One and iPlayer soon. When it is aired later this summer it will be celebrating 20 years of exploring the mysteries of Britain’s best-loved celebrities’ family trees. The BBC Media Centre says that in the programmes to come we can “expect more shocking discoveries and revelations, as seven celebrities set out on their ancestral journeys and unveil epic family secrets”.

Series 21 will be spanning centuries of history to reveal an extraordinary array of stories from circus antics to embezzlement, a life-changing accident, the Cold War, and stirring tales of triumph against the odds. Viewers will be taken on a journey across the UK and around the world including Ireland, Taiwan, Jamaica and Latvia as the celebrities search for answers to their family tree quests.

The press announcement from the BBC, while not yet revealing the all important dates for broadcast (other than stating that it will be this summer), tells us that this newest series “catches all the celebrities by surprise as they investigate their families’ pasts, not knowing what they might find.”

Who will we be watching?

The upcoming series will be featuring a stellar line up of celebrities that includes Vicky McClure, Paddy McGuinness, Olly Murs, Melanie Chisholm (Mel C), Rose Ayling-Ellis, Gemma Collins and Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.

Vicky McClure
Vicky McClure the BAFTA and RTS award-winning actress finds out the harrowing story of her great-grandfather’s experience as a Japanese Prisoner of War.
Paddy McGuinness
Paddy McGuinness’ programme looks closer to home when the presenter, actor and comedian discovers his grandfather’s crucial role during World War Two and then investigates his McGuinness surname in Ireland, discovering on the way that he nearly wasn’t a McGuinness at all.
Olly Murs
Olly Murs, the BRIT nominated popstar, is taken on a trip to Riga in Latvia in his episode where he is delighted to discover his circus performing ancestors, revealing that entertainment does in fact run in his blood.
Melanie Chisholm (Mel C)
Onetime Spice Girl and musical artist Melanie Chisholm (Mel C) uncovers a political activist in her family tree and investigates the story of how her family survived the Great Famine in Ireland.
Rose Ayling-Ellis
Rose Ayling-Ellis, actor, presenter and disability rights campaigner unveils an incident from her family’s story which uncannily mirrors an episode of EastEnders, though in her ancestor’s case it had taken place in a pub in Birmingham.
Gemma Collins
Essex-born reality TV star Gemma Collins, finds her emotions running high as she meets a family member that she never knew she had and also discovers her Essex roots go back even further than she thought.
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill
For Olympic gold medallist and former heptathlon world champion Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill it is a trip to Jamaica. On the Caribbean island she learns about her forebear’s life as a slave before he ended up owning his own land.

Simon Young, BBC Head of History, says: “This year we have a stellar line up to mark twenty years of the nation’s favourite social history series. Time and again it proves the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction, while helping us all to understand the history of Britain and the world much better, so it’s clear why our audiences have taken this series to their hearts. I’m so grateful to all the celebrities who have shared their family histories, and to the incredible production team that pulls it all together.”

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Colette Flight, Executive Producer for Wall to Wall Media, says: “In our twentieth year on air, we’re delighted to be back with more of Britain’s most popular celebrities investigating their family trees. As always, we’ve revealed extraordinary stories and moments from history that we’ve never told before, and the celebrities have been moved to tears, laughter, anger and joy learning about their ancestors’ lives.”

The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? launches on BBC One and iPlayer this summer. Produced by Wall to Wall Media, executive produced by Colette Flight and series produced by Lucy Swingler. The format is distributed by Warner Bros. International Television Production.




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