A week today sees the start of Who Do You Think You Are? Live at Olympia, London (and it is still not too late to get a great deal on tickets), three days of intensive genealogy goodness.
I still have some more preparations to do for my visit and the organisers are busy putting the finishing touches to the show. If you have already got your copy of the showguide you will know that there were a few holes in the schedules when the showguide went to press.
To help fill those gaps BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine have provided a page on their website with all the latest news about the show. I have bookmarked the page and will keep checking back to find out if there are any more changes.
There don’t appear to be any major changes but there are some changes in the timings and speakers, plus a few gaps in the schedules have been filled in, especially in the WDYTYA Theatre where there will be talks on “New Zealand Genealogy Online” and “Caribbean Genealogy”.
It is just under three weeks now until Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 at Olympia, London and the organisers have announced another celebrity guest. Eric Knowles is a familiar face from British television and an expert in antiques, but unlike the other celebrity guests he isn’t being interviewed or giving a talk.
Eric will be at the show on Friday and Sunday and “will help date any family treasures important to your family history”, although visitors are restricted to one item per person and he will not be providing valuations of the items (why would you want to sell that family heirloom anyway?).
Heirloom or otherwise I don’t think I have any antiques knocking about the house that need dating (and I will resist comments about other members of the household), but I am sure there are other visitors that will have family heirlooms that need identifying.
This could be a great opportunity to find out if that pocket watch is old enough to have been owned by your 2x great-grandfather or could that plate really have been passed down through six generations?
With just four weeks to go the organisers have announced the third celebrity guest for Who Do You Think You? Live at Olympia, London.
Popular TV chef Ainsley Harriott will be returning to the stage on Sunday 27th February 2011 at 10am and again at 11am, to discuss his appearance on the television series Who Do You Think You Are?
He joins fellow celebrities Monty Don (on Friday) and Hugh Quarshie (on Saturday) in talking about his experiences on the television series, and Tony Robinson who will be talking about life in 1911 (not from personal experience!) as part of the Ancestry.co.uk Academy on Friday.
I saw Ainsley Harriott a couple of years ago when he was previously a guest, and as you would expect he was throughly entertaining and I would heartily recommend making time to see his interview.
I had said before that I wasn’t going to bother with the celebrity talks this year, but on reflection they are a big part of the show and usually quite entertaining, so I might see if I can get a ticket if they don’t clash with anything else.
I don’t worry a great deal about the number of visitors my blog gets, I don’t go out of my way to market the blog, but I do keep an eye on my stats, just to make sure that people are still reading my blog and I am not wasting my time.
Last year I encountered an increase in visitors when Who Do You Think You Are? was being broadcast on BBC One last year, and this year was much the same. When I wrote about each episode my number of visitors jumped. I haven’t done the maths, but I would say the number of visitors probably doubled, which for my little blog is not a huge number, but still quite pleasing.
I certainly wasn’t expecting what happened yesterday, which turned out to be the best day ever for the number of visitors to my blog. I knew something was up when I checked my stats in the morning and saw that the number of visitors before about 7.30am was more than the usual pre-WDYTYA? daily totals. The numbers continued to rise throughout they day, and as you can see from the graph below the total ended around four or five times the average.
The reason for this was BBC buzz, which had automatically found my blog posts about WDYTYA? and was displaying links to them alongside the programme information on the BBC website. It appears to be a new feature, and it apparently likes my blog posts.
If I was a professional blogger I would have done something to take advantage of all this new traffic, and I might have done if I wasn’t at work, but it has been a real eye-opener, and makes me think about what I could achieve in terms of visitors if I really put my mind to it.
The producers of Who Do You Think You Are? were certainly saving the best for last. Last night’s episode featuring actor Alan Cumming was without doubt the best episode of the seventh series, and probably one of the best episodes in the show’s six year history.
Alan Cumming was an enthusiastic participant and one that I had heard of previously (although my memories are of The High Life rather than any of his more acclaimed performances). At the start seemed to be enjoying hearing about the stories his grandfather’s bravery a little too much, but my heart really went out to him at the end with the story of his grandfather’s tragic and needless death.
He certainly didn’t seem prepared for the shocking details and I certainly felt more than a little uncomfortable watching his reactions on screen. In an episode that focused very much on the effects that war and killing can have on someone’s mental health, I couldn’t help but wonder what effect the programme might have on Cumming himself and ultimately his mother, and wonder if perhaps the programme went a little too far.
Ironically I had earlier in the evening written (in a private email) about how I felt there had been a lack of any real emotion in this series and I can safely say that this was the only episode where I personally felt any real emotional reaction whilst watching the series.
As well as being an excellent episode in itself, it has also served to highlight just how mediocre some of the previous episodes in this series had been. The “shocking” story of Bruce Forsyth’s bigamist great-grandfather that opened the series was nothing in comparison to the truly heart-breaking story of Cumming’s grandfather.
Last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on BBC One was in my opinion probably the best of the series so far (and we are almost at the end now). It featured Hugh Quarshie, an actor who I had never heard of until Who Do You Think You Are?, although once again this is a reflection on my viewing habits rather than his ability or “celebrity” status.
I would admit that I was not really expecting to find this story very interesting, I have no experience of African research and thus no real interest in the subject, but as it turned out the story produced what for me has been the most memorable, engaging and emotional episode of the current series.
The most notable feature was the difference in the research process from other episodes. This episode relied mainly on oral history, tradition and unofficial sources, with most of the archival research taking place almost the very end of the programme. It was great to see this method being used so extensively and only being followed up with documentary research later on (although I am sure the researchers had done their stuff earlier on).
It was good to see a participant who was so actively involved in the journey, and showed real enthusiasm and passion for the story. It was truly heart-warming to see Hugh being introduced to so many relations as the story unfolded. In truth much family history research bears little relevance to everyday life, but here was an example where being descended from a particular person really meant something in the present day.
The final closing piece to camera produced another memorable line, “It’s not only that there is no black and white, but there is so much colour in this story”. A truly wonderful sentiment on which to end the show.
On a more personal note, many years ago at school I was forced to study Ghana as part of my geography lessons, and it was this aspect that turned me off the subject of geography so entirely. In retrospect I think now that it was probably the teaching that was putting me off rather than the subject itself, as I am sure I learnt much more in this one hour than an entire term of lessons.
Last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Jason Donovan was an enjoyable and interesting programme, but not outstanding. For me this series has so far lacked any really memorable (for the right reason) episodes.
I was a little surprised to find Jason Donovan on the UK version of the show rather than the Australian version, but that didn’t really matter as I was keen to learn a bit more about Australian family history. Whilst we learnt quite a bit about convicts (was anyone really surprised that he had at least one convict ancestor?), I would have liked to learnt more about everyday records, like those of birth, marriage and death.
That being said the stories uncovered were interesting, focusing mainly on three individuals, the two earliest ancestors being different sides of the same coin, convict and guard. It was the second of these, William Cox, that provided the most interesting story, travelling to Australia with his family and ending up as a pioneer paving the way for the growth of the Australian nation.
I was a bit confused by the preview of programme which said that they uncovered a miscarriage of justice, sure the punishment of transportation was harsh, but there was no indication why this should be seen as inappropriate for the time or any irregularities in the trial.
This episode did produce my favourite line of the series so far, when Jason told his first cousin once removed that he had been “too interested in myself for too long”. I don’t think it is just Jason that feels this, I think many people at one time or another realise this is case and wants to find out more about where they came from.