Who Do You Think You Are Davina McCall Review: Who’s Davina’s Big Brother?

July 15, 2009 by  
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4WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DAVINA MCCALL: Wednesday 15th July, BBC1, 9pm Alert Me

History at school was rubbish.

All this villeins this, crop rotations that, something about Cromwell… It all seemed so nebulous, so far removed from who we were. So boring.

Since its debut in 2004, Who Do You Think You Are? has offered an alternative, enlightening view on the subject.

For those about to make their first foray into the joy that is Who Do You Think You Are?, the premise is as follows: Person in the public eye tells us their need to delve into their history, be it an immediate media-friendly broken family, or a rumour of blue blood somewhere down the line. Person then delves into it. It’s probably totally ego-driven but boy, does it seem noble.

Who Do You Think You Are? has taught us in series past such wonders as Boris Johnson being a direct descendant of George II (hardly surprising) and gave us, against all odds, the tears of iron-clad politician bully Jeremy Paxman. Already, worth watching.

This week we watch Big Brother ringleader and former Eurotrash voice-overer Davina McCall give the branches of her family tree a good shake to see what leaves of knowledge may rain down.

Davina’s reason for taking part stems from her mixed heritage.
She feels her family is “split in two?, having one English side and one French that have always been isolated from each other. She hopes the process will bring the sides together.

If you enjoy a bit of detective work in your television, you’ll love a bit of this. Davina meets with genealogists and historians (who happen to be scholars of her ancestors’ work), and looks through enormous books of old newspapers for stories about her family.

Slowly nuggets of information are revealed, and by default it seems the plot thickens. It’s all incredibly satisfying, as a story better than any fiction begins to unravel.

It cleverly slides in the odd history lesson, but this is stuff that actually appears to relate to us, or affect how we live now. It’s actually interesting, unlike Tuesday, period 3’s study into the Bayeux Tapestry.

It’s jolly good viewing that that makes you feel all the better, you know, like, cerebrally. Like you just sat through Woman’s Hour on Radio 4.

You leave the show rushing to familysearch.com to see what greats you are descended from.

Which isn’t ego-driven at all.

Leonie Mercedes