Friday, 7 July 2017

People And The Past

The genealogy programme, "Who Do You Think You Are?" has returned to BBC1 in a new series of fourteen, almost all being in show business and celebrity circles. It could be called "What Do You Think You Were" but that might not do the ratings any good.

First out of the maternity ward was Charles Dance, the well known and respected actor, who far from being one of the posh lot as some of his roles might suggest, turns out to be a pleasing plebian with varied ancestry suited to our times.

The Guardian review tells the story briefly if you do not want to go the BBC Iplayer. As this suggests what is intriguing are the bits where some expert looks at a photograph nobody can work out and instantly comes up with an answer.

What it should tell all of us is that you never knew who is up there swinging from branch to branch of the family tree. But people are often fussy despite the demographic statistics making it clear that back a few generations the chances of an ancestor who does not fit in with what people might think rises sharply.

The newspaper report above from the Pall Mall Gazette of 17 March 1915, widely used in the provincial press as an amusing item has it's tragic side. The couple married shortly after when he went to the front and a daughter was born a few weeks later.

He died in May 1917 storming The Hindenburg Line, and perhaps never saw her. She was the mother of a famous man of today and someone you might not expect given his politics.

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