Tonight’s Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) was episode three of the seventh series and featured Kate Humble, probably best known as a presenter on the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch.
This episode must surely be one of the most incredible episodes in the show’s history. Kate Humble is such a charming and down to earth personality and to share this incredibly emotional journey with her was truly remarkable.
The first part revealed the life of her grandfather Bill Humble, who turned out to be a famous test pilot, and a larger than life character. Kate was seemingly unaware of this famous ancestor’s exploits and was astonished to find herself almost falling over photos and recordings that featured him. As a family historian finding recordings and being able to talk to someone who knew and worked with an ancestor would be a dream come true.
Kate tearfully admitted that she was ashamed that she had not known all these years and more importantly not taken the trouble to find out, something which will be familiar to many a family historian I am sure (myself included) who only realise when it is too late what has been lost.
The next part of the programme turned to coal mining, and her ancestor’s connection with the industry, and the tragedy that caused a change of career for one ancestor. The heart breaking story of a terrible accident and loss of life took its toll on Kate, just as it had on her ancestor.
The third part concerned her mother’s father who had joined the RAF in the Second World War and ended up shot down and in various prisoner of war camps before ending up in the camp that was made famous in the film The Great Escape.
Kate learnt more about her grandfather’s role in the audacious escape plans and the events that followed with the help of the log book that her grandfather kept and his repatriation report at the National Archives.
It was only when she was over in Poland at the site of the camp with an expert on the subject that the true significance and importance of the contents of the log book were revealed.
Technically this episode was very much like the first episode featuring Davina McCall in that there was a strong focus on a few central individuals but not much actual family tree building. This time around I wasn’t so bothered.
I don’t know whether it was because I was caught up in the emotional story, or that the individuals were such strong characters of historical importance or just the charm and openness of Kate Humble. One thing is for certain, I think it is going to be a hard episode to beat. It seems that this series of WDYTYA just gets better and better with every episode.