How Josh Widdicombe's family were Tudor courtiers | But Joe Lycett's ancestor was a child chimney-sweep © Stuart Hogben

How Josh Widdicombe's family were Tudor courtiers

But Joe Lycett's ancestor was a child chimney-sweep

Joe Lycett and Josh Widdicombe  are to delve into their family backgrounds in the next series of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?

The comedians are part of a line-up that also include Ed Balls, Dame Judi Dench, Pixie Lott, Alex Scott and Joe Sugg.

In the genealogy  show, Lycett  discovers his two-times-great grandfather was a boy chimney sweep in the 1850s who later joined the Royal Marines and travelled the world, but struggled to process his experiences.

Meanwhile, Widdicombe discovers an ancestor who was cut out of the family fortune and traces his incredible lineage back to the Elizabethan and Tudor courts.

One of his ancestors had intimate access to the King’s commode… although the story ends disastrously during the Civil War.

Of the other celebrities in the new series, which starts on BBC One next month, it initially looks like former Labour politician Balls will uncover an heroic story when he looks into the life of, but the grim reality isn’t quite what he was hoping for. However, he uncovers a more inspiring story when investigating the life of an ancestor who lived through the agricultural depression of the 1820s.

Dame Judi’s investigations lead her to Denmark and nobility, where she discovers, to her delight, some incredible Shakespearean links. 

Musician Lott hopes to find the truth of the family story that she has Italian ancestry from Verona, learns of her great grandfather’s harrowing experiences in the First World War, and discovers musical genes on her mother’s side of the family.

Footballer turned presenter Scott explores the Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side and learns that her great grandad faced down fascism in London’s East End in 1936.

YouTuber Sugg  discovers a great-great-great grandfather who was involved in the earliest days of communication by telegraph  and a relative who survived the Great Fire of London.

Emily Smith, the BBC’s 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 an extraordinary mix of personal celebrity histories that will take them around the world, unearthing fascinating stories in family trees that are touching, enlightening and always captivating.’

And Colette Flight, executive producer for programme-makers Wall to Wall said of this year’s line-up: ‘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.’

Published: 13 Sep 2021

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