Who Do You Think You Are? 2021 Series 18

Who Do You Think You Are? 2021 Series 18

The family history series returns...

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist

Two-time BAFTA award-winning genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are?, produced by Wall to Wall, returns to BBC One this October with yet another star-studded line-up.

Expected to be aired beginning in October 2021 on BBC One, the seven episodes will feature the family histories of a host of celebrities including; Ed Balls, Dame Judi Dench, Pixie Lott, Joe Lycett, Alex Scott, Joe Sugg and Josh Widdicombe.

Dame Judi Dench is set to unearth her Danish roots and discover some intriguing Shakespearean connections, while former Labour MP and TV presenter Ed Balls uncovers great bravery, and some less-admirable conduct from his ancestors. Singer-songwriter Pixie Lott finds that in her family tree there is a musical legacy that is three-generations strong, whilst comedian Joe Lycett comes across a darker side to his family history story. Alex Scott, the TV Pundit and former footballer, learns about her Jewish and Jamaican heritage, discovering that her ancestors had suffered enormous hardships in their lives. YouTuber Joe Sugg learns that his family history can be traced as far back as the Great Fire of London, and comedian Josh Widdicombe’s lineage will take viewers back to the Elizabethan and Tudor Courts.

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Ed Balls

To begin with, it looks like Ed Balls is set to find that he has a heroic story to reveal when he delves into the life of an assistant ship’s surgeon, but the grim reality turns out to be less than he had hoped for. To balance up this disappointment, however, he then goes on to find a more inspiring story when investigating the life of an ancestor who lived through the agricultural depression of the 1820s.

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Dame Judi Dench

Dame Judi Dench is a Shakespearean actor, movie star and thought of by many as a National Treasure. Dame Judi jumps at the chance to find out more about her forebears in Who Do You Think You Are? where she starts looking into her father’s story. Reginald Dench, a Doctor like many had never spoken of his experiences during the First World War and so this is where she begins. Tracing deeper into her family history, Judi’s research will take her to Denmark and nobility, where she discovers, to her delight, some incredible Shakespearean links.

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Pixie Lott

Pixie Lott had hoped that the programme would discover the truth about a family story that claimed that she has Italian ancestry from Verona. The reality turns out not to be quite what she was searching for. Pixie also learns, in her episode, of her great grandfather’s harrowing experiences in the First World War, along with discovering musical genes on her mother’s side of the family.

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Joe Lycett

Comedian and presenter Joe Lycett manages to find humour everywhere, but his family search unveils a darker story when he finds out that his two-times-great grandfather had been a boy chimney sweep in the 1850s who had later gone on to join the Royal Marines and travelled the world. Unfortunately his experiences were difficult for him to process.

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Alex Scott

Alex Scott’s episode will explore the Jewish ancestry that she has on her mother’s side. This will see her learn about her great grandad and how he faced down fascism in London’s East End in 1936. She then travels to Jamaica where she is able to uncover her ancestry on the other side of her family and find out about the tremendous hardship and suffering they encountered as well as some uncomfortable and upsetting accounts.

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Joe Sugg

YouTuber, actor and Strictly alumnus Joe Sugg enlists help from his big sister and fellow YouTuber Zoe to explore their family tree. He learns about a great-great-great grandfather who was involved in the earliest days of communication by telegraph. There is a story of his ancestors who fled religious persecution in France; and also a member of his past family who survived the Great Fire of London.

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Josh Widdicombe

The episode featuring Josh Widdicombe makes the discovery of an ancestor who was cut out of the family fortune and a courtier with intimate access to the King’s commode, whose story comes to a predictable end during the Civil War. From there Josh is taken on an amazing journey that sees his forebears traced back to Elizabethan and Tudor nobility revealing an incredible ancestral line.

Emily Smith, BBC Commissioning Editor for Documentaries, says:

We are very excited for this new series of Who Do You Think You Are? and for viewers to share in the extraordinary mix of personal celebrity histories taking us across the world, and which together reflect our rich collective history.

Executive Producer for Wall to Wall, Colette Flight, says:

Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another line-up of Britain’s best-loved celebrities exploring their family histories across the UK, Ireland, Denmark and Jamaica. The incredible personal stories they unearth of their ancestors’ lives – from royal love triangles to labourers fighting for their rights, from Victorian child sweeps to battling fascists in London’s East end – reflect and illuminate all our collective history.

Who Do You Think You Are? is produced by Wall to Wall Media for BBC One. The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? launches on BBC One this October.

Click here to view stories from the previous series

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