Josh is first on Who Do You Think You Are?

Tuesday:Who Do You Think You Are?; (BBC One, 9pm)

When you think about it, Who Do You Think You Are? is a remarkable series.

Not just because it’s been on our screens for the past 17 years, but because it continues to unearth incredible stories about the ancestors of some of our biggest stars – sometimes their relatives are far more interesting than the celebrities themselves.

Being asked to participate is almost like a badge of honour these days because so many famous faces have taken part, from Bill Oddie, who featured in the first episode on October 12, 2004, to Liz Carr, who was in the final edition of the last, truncated series, broadcast on November 2, 2020.

Josh Widdicombe

In between, the likes of Stephen Fry, David Tennant, Barbara Windsor, Jeremy Irons, John Hurt, Boris Johnson (before his political career took flight), Kim Cattrall, JK Rowling, Annie Lennox, Julie Walters, Billy Connolly, Jane Seymour, Ian McKellen, Charles Dance, Olivia Colman and Kate Winslet have popped up.

Now the series is returning for its 18th series with an equally starry batch of names set to appear.

Emily Smith, BBC Commissioning Editor for Documentaries, says: “We are very excited for this new series of Who Do You Think You Are? and for viewers to share in the extraordinary mix of personal celebrity histories taking us across the world, and which together reflect our rich collective history.”

“Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another line-up of Britain’s best-loved celebrities exploring their family histories,” adds executive producer Colette Flight. “The incredible personal stories they unearth of their ancestors’ lives – from royal love triangles to labourers fighting for their rights, from Victorian child sweeps to battling fascists in London’s East end – reflect and illuminate all our collective history.”

Future instalments will see Oscar-winner and national treasure Judi Dench uncover her Danish roots as well as some intriguing links to Shakespeare; she also learns more about her father Reginald’s service during the First World War, something he never spoke about.

Singer Pixie Lott goes in search of evidence that proves an old family story that suggests she has Italian ancestry, and also finds out where her musical genes come from, while comedian Joe Lycett finds there isn’t much to laugh about in the story of his two-times-great grandfather’s life – he was a boy chimney sweep in the 1850s.

Footballer-turned-pundit and presenter Alex Scott explores her Jewish ancestry and travels to Jamaica to hear a moving tale of hardship, Ed Balls hopes to find a hero, but instead discovers how fact can be stranger than fiction, and Strictly alumnus Joe Sugg is joined by his fellow YouTuber sister Zoe to explore their family tree.

But first into the fray is comic Josh Widdicombe. He hears about an ancestor who missed out on a fortune, a courtier who knew all about the King’s toilet habits, as well as some amazing links to Elizabethan and Tudor nobility, who make up just part of his incredible ancestral line.

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