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Who Do You Think You Are? US: Sarah Jessica Parker

14 Jun

At last we have seen an episode for the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? on British television, for the time being at least, it seems that this is the only programme from the series that we will be seeing.

The actual story of Sarah Jessica Parker’s ancestors is covered in depth elsewhere, so I won’t go into any detail about what was revealed. This in itself is one of the big differences between the UK and US versions of the series, the amount of information provided by NBC about each celebrity is enormous compared to the amount provided by the BBC. This isn’t just a case of the information already being out there so the BBC didn’t need to bother, it was pretty much the same with the last UK series as well.

Apart from that there weren’t really that many important differences, or at least it is hard to judge from just one episode. For example, Sarah Jessica Parker seemed to get incredibly excited as every piece of new information appeared, whether this is just her personality or whether the programme makers were trying to show how exciting genealogy research can be is hard to say.

Again at the beginning of the show she seemed to spend more time talking to her family about what she/they expected to find out. I would have thought it pretty obvious that they would find some roots deep in American history somewhere within the branches of her family tree.

The fact that the programme was dealing with aspects of American history didn’t really make much of a difference to me. Most of the events mentioned were known to me, but really in name only. The level of detail provided was just right, I didn’t need to know in great detail what happened to appreciate the importance of of the events.

I would say the programme itself wasn’t that different from the UK version, typically much of the research process itself took place behind the scenes, so all we saw were the relevant documents being delivered and interpreted. I think the programme was slightly faster paced than the UK version. I think they covered the same number of stories in 46 minutes as they would normally cover in an hour in the UK.

All in all, I would say I enjoyed this episode, even though most of the subject matter was not of personal interest. I look forward to one day seeing the rest of the episodes (I could probably find a way of watching them online if I wanted to).

Who Do You Think You Are? US on UK television this weekend

10 Jun

This weekend British viewers are going to have the chance to watch the first episode of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Sarah Jessica Parker.

This episode is being screened on Sunday the 13th June 2010 on BBC One at 9:15pm, and there is no indication when the rest of the series will follow.

It seems like a long time coming, but it is only about three months since it was first broadcast in the US, although of course that seemed a long time coming in the first place.

Apparently there is also some football on this weekend as well, but WDYTYA is the only programme I will making an effort to watch, I will let you know if I think it has been worth the wait. I suppose it will fill a gap whilst we wait for the eighth series of the UK version, which is supposed to be coming this year.

Another Ancestry.co.uk television advert

13 May

I haven’t watched much television recently, so I was alerted to the latest advert for Ancestry.co.uk by a post on the Ancestry.co.uk blog.

Like the two previous adverts this latest one is available to watch again on YouTube on londonhumdinger’s Channel.

I found this advert quite sad, especially the final picture, with the caption “I’m the one they never talk about”. What do you think?

The WDYTYA effect hits America

6 Mar

I had to smile when I read Thomas MacEntee’s post which mentioned his difficulty accessing the NEHGS and Ancestry.com websites after the transmission of the first episode of the US version of WDYTYA.

"Ahhh", I thought to myself, "the Who Do You Think You Are? effect has finally hit America".

If WDYTYA has the same impact over there as it did here you can expect more of the same in the coming weeks and months, as people see how ‘easy it is to do genealogy research.

So apart from slow and unavailable websites what else can you expect?

Queues and delays at archives, libraries and repositories, may take a while to manifest themselves whilst everyone spends their time ‘crashing’ the internet searching for their ancestors.

You can also expect delays ordering documents. Over in the UK the General Register Office had a real struggle meeting the demand for birth, marriage and death certificates.

It is not all bad news however, of course more genealogists has to be a good thing in the end, and for bloggers you can expect an increase in visitors (my own posts on the last series over here saw three or four times the average number of hits).

Mercy TROWER: perhaps she didn’t marry?

9 Feb

On Sunday afternoon I was sitting watching TV, which is unusual for me, it was Agatha Christie’s Poirot starring David Suchet (who was once a subject of the Who Do You Think You Are? TV series).

Even as I was sitting there I couldn’t stop thinking about family history and in particular Mercy TROWER. The fact that I can’t find a record of her marriage makes me suspicious that she might have been lying about being a widow.

What Hercule Poirot made me wonder is, what would Mercy’s motive be for lying about being a widow? Allcriminals need to have a motive, be it money, lust or revenge. I am not suggesting that Mercy was a criminal, but if she was lying about being a widow then she must have had a motive for doing so.

The problem is that I cannot think of a motive, how could Mercy possibly benefit from pretending to be a widow? I can only come up with two possibilities which both seem so improbable that it is hardly worth considering them.

  1. Mercy had done something illegal or something she was ashamed of and changed her name and marital status to hide her identity.
  2. Mercy pretended to be married to inherit something from her alleged husband, perhaps a former employer.

Like I said, I can’t believe either of these are true, and it still seems more likely that her marriage wasn’t correctly recorded, not that it didn’t ever take place.

If you fancy playing Hercule Poirot (or Miss Marple), let me know if you can think of a motive for Mercy lying about being a widow, my little grey cells are just about out of ideas!

The latest Ancestry.co.uk TV advert

8 Jan

I managed to catch the end of the latest Ancestry.co.uk advert on the television over Christmas and the New Year, and now the advert is available to watch in full on YouTube.

London Humdinger is the official YouTube Channel for Hurrell, Moseley, Dawson & Grimmer, the people responsible for this and the previous advert.

This advert seems to be a bit more informative than the previous one and even includes a sound piece of advice on how to get started, “start by filling in what you know”.

Holiday at the Victorian Farm

17 Dec

Karen over at Twigs to Roots posted about the Christmas specials of the BBC programme Victorian Farm (entitled unsurprisingly Victorian Farm Christmas).

I commented that I would like to go and have a look at the farm where it was filmed because it is a historic working farm, so I thought I would have a look on the internet and see if I could find out more.

As well as an interesting website about the Acton Scott Estate and the historic working farm, I also discovered that the cottage (Henley Cottage) where much of the series was filmed can now be rented as a holiday cottage.

The unusual twist is that Henley Cottage has been restored as a 19th century farm labourers cottage. Water must be pumped from the well by hand, the place is lit by candles and oil lamps and cooking is done on an old fashioned kitchen range.

The only concession to modern comfort appears to be the converted outside toilet which hides a modern bathroom with a hot shower and toilet.

To me this sounds like a fascinating chance to experience a small taste of how the majority of my ancestors lived, although without the hard work that being an agricultural labourer entailed, I am not sure it would be completely realistic.

I would feel a bit of a fraud, turning up in modern clothes, probably by modern transport, but I still think it would  be a great experience. My wife on the other hand was not convinced that this would be such an ideal way of spending the week!

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