Who Do You Think You Are? – Alexander Armstrong

24 Aug

Last night’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring comedian and actor Alexander Armstrong was another enjoyable episode. It was good to see mention made of his appearance in a spoof of Who Do You Think You Are? from the Armstrong and Miller Show, which has been doing the rounds since it was announced he would be appearing on the show, at least the producers of WDYTYA don’t take themselves too seriously.

Initially I was a little disappointed by the fact that so much seemed to rely on published genealogies and pedigrees, in fact after they opened up a copy of Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry in the first few minutes I was beginning to wonder whether there was going to actually be any need to do any new research.

I think I tend to forget that published genealogies can be a valuable source in themselves, maybe not a primary source and not always 100% accurate, in this respect it makes them much like many other sources. Just because my ancestors do not appear on them doesn’t make them any less important.

There did seem to be a little bit of background research going on, but I felt this episode was more about Armstrong actually following his family tree rather than tracing it. So although most of the work had already been done it was interesting to watch the branches of his family tree creep back further and further, and his ancestors get wealthier and more influential/powerful.

Armstrong was quite enthusiastic about the whole exercise, although perhaps more as a spectator than an active participant, with him being given things to read next rather than him asking the questions and deciding which branches to follow. I got the impression it was a very well mapped out journey he was taking, but an interesting and enjoyable one nevertheless, with a couple of interesting twists.

2 Responses to “Who Do You Think You Are? – Alexander Armstrong”

  1. mindfull2 August 31, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    Hi John. I must admit to being very disappointed by this programme. Most of all becasue ther eseemed to be a total obsession with the posh side of it over the non-posh. The fact that one relative had left his estate to his natural daughters went unexplored, although these girls are just as much related to the subject as the posher beauforts – their father being a direct descendent. Why were their descendents not followed up as cousings of Alexander? Also – it was really amazing of their father to leave his estate to his illigitimate daughters, and that should have been praised. Instead we got gripes about how the ohter brother got done out of what was not actually his, and would not have been if his brother had legally married. It was increadilby sexist and snobbish I thougt. And, quite honestly, who has Whe’s Who in their cupboard anyway!! It was so funny. The spoof Alexander did of this came up with a ‘whore’. When he actually had one (although she was not in fact, but just a servant) in the real thing, this connection was completely ignored. It was all very unpleasant.

    • John Gasson September 3, 2010 at 7:16 am #

      They were definitely playing on the posh stereotype, it did feel a bit like they had just taken their research from Burkes or Debretts and just rushing back to find the richest or poshest person they could. I guess the production team would claim there wasn’t time to follow up all the other stories.

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