Anne was close to her father but knows very little about his family. She only has a couple of clues to go on - the name of a house in Scotland and a family story that her father’s side were ministers in the church. These clues soon put her on the trail of her great great grandfather John Reid – not a minister at all, but a schoolteacher in Fife with a side line in forgery. When John’s forgeries land him in the dock his life takes an unexpected turn – to Tasmania, on a convict ship.
Jane grew up in London but knows that her father’s side of the family originally came from Poland. She suspects that they suffered in the Holocaust, but has never known what happened. In particular, she wants to find out the fate of her two paternal great aunts, Jadwiga and Michaela, and their families. Jane’s search for the truth takes her to Warsaw where she discovers that although Jadwiga managed to escape the ghetto she was tragically separated from her family; and to France where she follows Michaela and her family in a terrifying flight to Switzerland as they flee the Nazis.
Derek grew up in Walthamstow, where his parents ran a market stall. But a clue in his mother’s family tree hints at a more colourful past - his great grandmother’s name was Salome Laplain. Armed with this tantalising detail, Derek discovers that far from being from humble roots as he had thought, he is in fact descended from a wealthy French Huguenot fleeing religious persecution in France – who has connections to Protestant royalty on this side of the channel.
Gareth’s passion for singing is in his blood – his parents met singing in musicals and Gareth grew up surrounded by music. But he wants to know how far back his “ta-dah” gene goes, and sets off to find out more. His investigations into his mother’s side of the family take him to London’s West End, where he finds his great great grandfather, a star of musical comedy, performing for the King, George V. But it doesn’t stop there – two more generations back and Gareth’s journey takes him to the heyday of music hall and a theatre impresario in Dublin.
Jerry knows her father’s family were originally from Oldham, but wants to find out how they ended up in America. Her journey takes her from the cotton mills of Lancashire to the plains of Texas at the time of the railroads. Once there, Jerry also investigates her mother’s side of the family and discovers her ancestors’ pioneering roots as they blaze a trail west across America at the time of the Frontier – and a connection to the original pioneer and folk hero - Daniel Boone.
Paul grew up very near his maternal grandparents, and was particularly close to his grandfather, Norman Harman. The discovery of Norman’s service medals sends Paul off on a journey to find out about his experiences in World War II serving as an anti-aircraft gunner. Paul discovers that having survived extraordinary danger in Tunisia his grandfather found himself in the middle of an even more treacherous battle when he was sent to Italy as part of the Allied invasion force. Norman ended up stranded on the beaches at Anzio, surrounded by Germans - with nowhere to hide. Further up his tree Paul also discovers stoic Scottish ancestry – and a very demanding job!
FRANCES DE LA TOUR
Frances’ family tree holds a tantalising clue which hints at aristocratic ancestors. Hot on the trail of her three times great grandmother Frances uncovers a story of a secret lover, an illegitimate child and a landmark divorce case. But the scandal doesn’t stop there. Tracing back another generation Frances uncovers the tragic story of Sophia Delaval – and traces her roots back to Seaton Delaval, the historic family residence.
Anita never met her maternal grandfather Sant Singh – all she has been told is that he suffered terrible tragedy at the time of India’s Partition. Anita’s mother also tells her that Sant had another wife and family before marrying Anita’s grandmother. Armed with this knowledge Anita travels to India to see if she can find out more about her grandfather’s first family – and discover what happened to them during Partition. It’s an extraordinary and harrowing journey for Anita.
Frank was very close to his late mother, and is keen to know more about her side of the family. Frank’s mother always told him that the family arrived in Britain with the Normans. Frank sets off to discover if there is any truth in the rumour. Along the way he traces his family tree back to his 10 times great grandfather Sir Michael Stanhope – a knight of the Tudor court – who is accused of treason. But Frank’s journey doesn’t end there, and he is astonished to discover that his mother’s suspicions are closer to the truth than he could ever have imagined.
Mark Gatiss has always had a love of storytelling, and a passion for the ghastly and ghoulish, but has always wondered where it comes from. So when he discovers that his mother’s side of the family goes back five generations to the wilds of Northern Ireland his imagination is awakened. Mark travels to Ireland where he untangles a tale of rags to riches, and finds out that his family were storytellers and (allegedly) vampire slayers!