The BBC has announced the return of its ever popular genealogy television series Who Do You Think You Are? which traces the family history of celebrities - and the great news is that we don't have long to wait! The well loved family history programme will return to BBC1 on Thursday 6th July at 9pm and then air in two five-episode blocks.
Kicking the series off is the famous English actor Charles Dance, who is well known for playing villains and other characters who don't normally display their emotions. On the screen he has starred in Jewel in the Crown and Game of Thrones, but Charles' Who Do You Think You Are episode promises to reveal a very different side of him when he comes close to tears as the programme discloses a raft of family secrets. Chief among these is the information that he had two sisters, born nearly 50 years before him.
The star was very moved when he was told about his siblings – one of whom he was to learn died in tragic circumstances – but he was also shocked to discover that his father Walter Dance had been a Boer War hero and was actually twenty five years older than Charles had always believed.
Also to appear in this new series are Clare Balding, Emma Willis, Craig Revel Horwood, Noel Clarke, Lulu, Lisa Hammond, Adil Ray, Fearne Cotton and Ruby Wax.
Craig Revel Horwood will appear at 9pm on Thursday 13th July. Born in Ballarat, Australia in 1965, he started his career as a dancer in Melbourne before making the move to London so that he could take advantage of the greater opportunities available in Britain. He had worked as a dancer, director and choreographer for some time before becoming well known to the viewing public as one of the Strictly Come Dancing judges. Craig will be tracing his family roots down under in Australia as he finds out that he's not the first dancer in his family.
Clare Balding's episode is at 9pm on Thursday 20th July and the sports presenter will be tracing her great grandfather, Sir Malcolm Bullock and a possible romantic relationship that he may have had with a male artist. She also makes a trip to the United States where she finds out more about the hugely wealthy American family her grandfather Gerald Balding married into.
Adil Ray, who was born on 26 April 1974 in Birmingham, can be seen researching his ancestors in the programme that airs at 9pm on Thursday 27th July. Best known to TV viewers as the star of sitcom Citizen Khan and also the new drama called Ackley Bridge, Adil travels to Kenya and Uganda to discover more about his maternal grandfather, who had been an immigrant Indian businessman. He also looks into the story of his grandmother who was rumoured to be related to a Ugandan king.
Emma Willis née Griffiths, born 18 March 1976 also in Birmingham, is the next celebrity to discover her family history as we head into her episode at 9pm on 3rd August. It sees the former model and presenter, known for introducing Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother and The Voice UK, researching her deep roots in the second city, as well as being confronted with violent and disturbing truths about one ancestor in Ireland. On the positive side, she is inspired by another and finds herself identifying with their graft and determination.
The second half of this season has yet to be given a date by the schedulers at the BBC. What we do know, however, is who the celebrities are going to be.
Lisa Hammond is an actress who is best known for playing the part of Donna Yates, making her only the second disabled character ever to appear on EastEnders. As someone who thinks of herself as being a Londoner, though she was born in Chichester on the 2nd June 1983, she has always disliked the countryside, and was shocked when the research pointed to her ancestors as coming from rural Welsh gentry stock.
Noel Clarke has appeared in a past series of Dr Who as the Time Lord's companion Mickey Smith. Noel, who was born in London on the 6th December 1975, has also written and starred in the gritty drama Kidulthood plus he has directed the sequel films Adulthood and last year's Brotherhood. Who Do You Think You Are? Viewers will see him trace his ancestry back to slaves working on a Caribbean island.
Lulu, or Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie as she was named when she was born in Lennoxtown, Scotland on 3rd November 1948, is a famous pop star who became part of the sound that accompanied the Swinging Sixties London with a series of hit singles.
Fearne Cotton is known from her work on CBBC and then as a disc jockey on Radio 1 from 2005. Born in Northwood, London on the 3rd September 1981, she went on to become the first ever permanent female presenter of a BBC radio chart show in 2007. Fearne has presented TV coverage of various events including Comic Relief, Eurovision, the BAFTAs and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Ruby Wax was born on the 19th April 1953 in Illinois U.S.A. to Austrian Jewish parents who had moved to America to escape from the Nazis. Ruby moved to the UK and became a comedian and BAFTA-nominated TV presenter. With a master's degree in mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy, she is known for her campaigning work to raise awareness of mental health issues.