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.