Last night saw another excellent episode of Who Do You Think You Are? I must admit that I had never heard of Rupert Penry-Jones before (more a reflection on my viewing habits than anything else), and like the earlier episode featuring his wife Dervla Kirwan the subject matter (the English in India) was not really something I have any experience of.
It was an incredibly watchable programme, and Rupert Penry-Jones came across as a very likeable young man, and like Monty Don last week it was good to see him actually taking notes as the stories unfolded. It was also nice to see some quite clear research goals from the outset of the story. He certainly got his fair share of the travel budget in this programme, with visits to both Italy and India.
There was a nice contrast between relatively recent history (World War Two) and more distant research, both in time and geography, although both had a common Indian theme joining them. It was wonderful to see Penry-Jones listening to the stories of one of the men who had fought at Monte Cassino. Oral history is a wonderful resource to bring official records to life.
Whereas a couple of the earlier episodes have seemed rather drawn out, this certainly seemed to have a lot packed into it. I can’t help wondering what other interesting stories might have been skipped in the rush to prove to Indian ancestry.
I did think there were a couple of missed opportunities in the programme, with both husband and wife as subjects for this series of Who Do You Think You Are? it would have been interesting to see them sharing in each others experiences rather than the usual individual experience. Also, at the end of the programme I was surprised not to see Penry-Jones return to England and explain everything he had learnt to his mother, and seeing if she was just as interested as he expected her to be.
All in all another excellent episode, some excellent research and an interesting and likeable celebrity, my faith in Who Do You Think You Are? is slowly being restored, after a rather poor start to the series.