Tag Archives: martin freeman

Who Do You Think You Are? Series seven round up

22 Aug

The seventh series provided quite a diverse mix of research subject and geographic areas. Interestingly this series doesn’t seem to have gone back as far some previous series, concentrating on more recent ancestors. Perhaps this goes some way to show people that you don’t have to go back a long way to find interesting people and stories.

Here is a quick run down of the people and subjects covered. If you are quick they can still be watched over on the BBC iPlayer (if you missed them I am sure they will be shown again in the future, and will almost certainly be available on DVD eventually).


Episode 1: Davina McCall (first broadcast 15th July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 6.4 million

Like Davina the episode was half-English and half-French. The English half explored the life of James Thomas Bedborough and the impact of his death on his surviving family. The French half concerned Celestin Hennion an important figure in the history of the French police service.


Episode 2: Chris Moyles (first broadcast 22nd July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.7 million

This episode was mainly centred around Ireland with Chris Moyles uncovering tales of poverty and hardship, but it finished in Ypres retracing the steps of his great-grandfather who died there.


Episode 3: Kate Humble (first broadcast 29th July 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.6 million

Perhaps the most outstanding episode this series, Kate Humble discovered the lives of three remarkable ancestors. One of whom was involved in the real life POW escape which was the inspiration for the film The Great Escape.


Episode 4: David Mitchell (first broadcast 5th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 4.1 million

David Mitchell explored the lives of his ancestors in some quite remote and stunning Scottish landscape. No major revelations, just hard work (sheep farmers) and devotion to duty and the people of his parish (Church of Scotland Minister).


Episode 5: Kim Cattrall (first broadcast 12th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 5.9 million

Probably the most emotional episode, Kim Cattrall attempted to find out what happened to her grandfather after he walked on his wife and children. Lots of anger and bitterness for a man who left is family with virtually nothing when he left.


Episode 6: Martin Freeman (first broadcast 19th August 2009)

Viewing figures (from Broadcast): 6.0 million

There were no earth shattering revelations in Martin Freeman’s episode, which mostly concerned his great-grandparents and the many children they had, and the common disability they shared.


One thing I found really interesting with this series was not that most of the celebrities didn’t really know a lot about their ancestors, but the fact that they felt they should have done and were even embarrassed or ashamed that they didn’t.

If I had to pick a favourite episode it would have to be the one with Kate Humble, the poor woman had revelation after revelation piled upon her, concerning ancestors that were truly remarkable people. It made compelling viewing and emotional viewing and should serve as a reminder that we shouldn’t rush back generation after generation, but ask questions and find out about those closer to us who we assumed were just normal ordinary people.

Who Do You Think You Are? Martin Freeman

19 Aug

The seventh series of Who Do You Think You Are? drew to a close tonight with the sixth episode featuring Martin Freeman, probably best known as Tim Canterbury in the UK version of The Office. Like many of the celebrities in this series, the programme began with Martin discussing that he really knew very little about his ancestry beyond his own parents.

Essentially a programme of two parts, the first part concerned Martin’s grandfather Leonard Freeman and his death during the Second World War. This lead to an interesting explanation of the events leading up to the evacuation at Dunkirk and his grandfather’s service in the RAMC, with details from the unit’s war diary and another account of the day when he was killed during an attack by German bombers.

The second part focused on Martin’s great grandparents. This is where things became really interesting with the discovery that his great grandfather Richard Freeman had been born blind and had attend a special school, which in turn seems to have lead to a lifetime involvement in pianos and organs, either tuning, repairing, supplying or playing.

Personally things got very interesting when the focus switched to Worthing in West Sussex, with scenes filmed in Worthing Library, one of my favourite libraries because of it’s wide range of resources for local and family history in Sussex.

The family tree which was slowly assembled revealed an increasingly large family, consisting of several marriages and many children (I think I counted 19 in all). The tragedy is that many of these children never survived into childhood, which seemed unusual. Using death certificates and with help from medical experts the likely cause of these deaths was uncovered. How many genealogists like me have wished that they could have a medical expert on call to explain the terms on a death certificate?

All in all a very interesting story was unravelled in this episode, and although it was quite a tragic story there was little of the emotion and excitement of previous episodes. In this respect it was probably more representative of the sort of stories that the majority of us will find in our family trees.

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