Thursday, 11 August 2011

Find My Past - the TV series

In June I blogged that Brightsolid had entered into a funding arrangement with UKTV to produce a new genealogy series, entitled Find My Past (see The new series has now been confirmed for broadcast from Thursday October 20th at 9pm on UKTV's Yesterday channel.

A lot of people aren't fans of Who Do You Think You Are because it obsesses on celebrities - Find My Past is going to be a much different beast by the sounds of it, as it involves real people! The following is the press release:


Many people wonder if they are related to someone who might have been lucky enough, or brave enough, to contribute to a major historical event. In Find My Past, a new genealogy series on the UK’s leading factual channel Yesterday, ordinary members of the public will get to find out just that.

Presented by TV presenter and Strictly Come Dancing 2009 champion, Chris Hollins, each week Find My Past, an AFP with, will take three people on a journey to discover how they are related to someone from a major historical event. The programme will follow each of them as they uncover who their ancestor is and the part they played in history, before uniting them to discover how they are linked.

The contributors will set off on a journey each week to learn more about their unexplored ancestry. Each will go on their own unique path to learn about their ancestor and the event with which their relative was involved. Find My Past will make history personal and ignite an interest in viewers to find out if they too could be related to great people from the past.

The famous events that will feature in the series are The Battle of Britain, Mutiny on the Bounty, Jack the Ripper, Dunkirk, D Day, The Titanic, The Battle of the Somme, The Tay Bridge Disaster, A Victorian Royal Scandal and Emily Davison - the suffragette who threw herself under the King’s Horse.

In the summer and autumn of 1940 Hitler’s main aim was to gain superiority over the British RAF and Flight Command. The Battle of Britain became the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces and was the largest, most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date. As well as the pilots fighting in the air there were a huge number of WAAF on the ground helping to mastermind the RAF’s next move.

In Find My Past: Battle of Britain the programme will follow the journey of the grandson and nephew of two RAF pilots, Bobby Oxspring and Claude Parsons, who flew in the same Spitfire Squadron, No 66. They were in the thick of the battle in skies over Britain in 1940 and for them the Battle of Britain had two very different outcomes. The third contributor is the great nephew of WAAF servicewoman E. M. Birch, who was an operation room plotter with the key job of directing the Spitfires from 66 Squadron to intercept the German aircraft. The three contributors will meet experts, eye-witnesses and veterans to discover the pivotal role of their ancestors in this iconic event.

Mutiny on The Bounty is a world famous story and one that has been recreated on film many times over. On 28 April 1789 Captain William Bligh of The Bounty was set adrift in a long boat in an act of mutiny by his First Mate, Fletcher Christian, but what really happened on the now legendary voyage? In Find My Past: Mutiny on The Bounty the descendants of William Bligh, Fletcher Christian and John Fryer, the ships Master, will learn all that happened on the infamous voyage before revealing to each other their discoveries and deciding which of their famous ancestors was really to blame for the mutiny.

Each episode will unearth emotional stories, shocking details and fascinating facts and will show how easily any one could be related to some of histories most famous people and events. Don’t miss the exciting discoveries in Yesterday’s exclusive new genealogy series, Find My Past, when the series begins on Thursday 20 October at 9pm.

COMMENT: It's got Spitfires in it! Can't wait...! :)

(With thanks to Helen Tovey at Family Tree magazine, and Samantha Elliott at Yesterday)



Caroline Gurney said...

Interesting to see that: "In Find My Past: Mutiny on The Bounty the ancestors of William Bligh, Fletcher Christian and John Fryer, the ships Master, will learn all that happened on the infamous voyage ...". Will they dig them up and film their reactions?

Chris Paton said...

Poor wording in the press release - have changed it.


Anonymous said...

"It's got Spitfires in it!" Certainly sounds like it. But the picture's a Hurricane (grin). (PS - unlike TV documentary makers, most aircraft geeks will not react with shock when told it was the Hurricane that won the Battle of Britain, not the Spitfire. We know, we know!)

Slightly more seriously, I get mildly annoyed with those who think WDYTYA is about celebrities. The ancestors are usually anything but famous. Here, it seems we have the opposite - ordinary people chosen because they link to famous events. Seems to me the fame has just been moved to the other end. All it means is that there has to be a hook to interest people.

Either way, let's have some interesting stories!


Chris Paton said...

Hands up time - having made two documentaries on the Battle of Britain, I should have got the Hurricane! And yes, they did a lot more damage than the Spitfire. But the Spitfire was sexier! (I got to play with one for a whole day at Duxford 10 years ago!) :) One of the docs I worked on was actually about debunking Battle of Britain myths (and we did raise the Spit/Hurr point!), so that's a fair cop! lol

I do disagree about WDYTYA though. It is clearly about celebrities, albeit Z-list. In some cases, albeit rarely, it is obvious that the slebs don't actually care about it - to quote Alan Carr on Twitter last night: "Look that Who Do You Think You Are face took ages, I kept giggling. It's not really me: looking wistful, thoughtful & giving a shit". To me the series has moved quite a way from its original premise, and is now effectively the 'must do' celeb show - up there with Strictly, Doctor Who and Corrie. The modern version of "This is Your Life". I couldn't care less about Dot Cotton - but the Battle of Britain and I'm in! So whilst both do go for a hook based on fame - definitely concede that to a point - I think the FMP series will resonate more. A lot of people were connected to D-Day, or the Battle of Britain, etc. Time will tell though! (As long as it does not end up like that bl**dy game show Gene Detectives that used to be on BBC Daytime!)


Anonymous said...

Seems to me you are setting yourself up to fail if you are really expecting your show to compete with WDYTYA? 7million viewers on bbc1 or 100,000 on UKTV - hmmm...

Chris Paton said...

Interesting point. However...!

a) Not my show! Merely reporting its launch!

b) Programmes are not judged a success by audience figures alone. Different channels look for different things - a combination of audience reach, the appreciation index (how enjoyable was it basically), and in this case, I would assume the return to the advertiser, it being a commercial channel, and I suspect as a UKTV channel show this will be repeated ad infinitum.

Any show for me will always boil down to whether I felt it worthwhile watching for an hour. June Brown? Not on your nelly. J K Rowling? Absolutely, a beautiful hour of TV, and one of WDYTYA's finest moments (in my view!).

Find My Past? Don't know - haven't seen it yet!