Series guide: Who Do You Think You Are? UK series 17

2-3 minute read

By Niall Cullen | October 13, 2020

who do you think you are uk 2020

See which celebrities took part in Who Do You Think You Are? UK 2020 and find out when it was on TV.

Who Do You Think You Are? UK, the BAFTA-winning genealogy show that sees famous faces explore their pasts, returned for its 17th season in October 2020. The first episode aired on Monday 12 October at 9 pm on BBC One.

Following a captivating series 16 that was broadcast in June 2019 and featured Kate Winslet, Daniel Radcliffe and Sharon Osbourne, another array of celebrities delved into their family trees.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hampered production on Who Do You Think You Are? season 17. This series, only four celebrity family stories kept us gripped, moved and entertained. Nevertheless, as always, it was an exciting dose of family history TV to help fill those darker Autumn evenings.

The celebrity line-up for Who Do You Think You Are? UK 2020 included:

Episode 1: Jodie Whittaker

Who Do You Think You Are? series 17 opened with Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker and it was emotional to say the least.

Jodie discovered how her grandmother was given the unusual middle name of Verdun. She thought it was perhaps a poignant link to the famous First World War battle, but this family myth was soon quashed. Digging deeper into her military connections, Jodie discovered the inspiring story of her ancestor, Walter. He was a Red Cross volunteer who took the brave decision to leave his relatively safe role behind for the Front Line.

From there, Jodie explored her maternal family's deep-rooted connections to the Yorkshire coal mines. It turned out her great-grandfather, Edwin Auckland and his sons controversially defied the 1921 coal miners' strike and kept their colliery open.

This revelation didn't sit comfortably with Jodie at first but she soon came to terms with her ancestors motivations;

""Really that’s all we’re wanting…to provide a happy, healthy life for the people around us”"

Episode 2: David Walliams

Who Do You Think You Are? UK 2020 continued on Monday 19 October with Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams.

The actor, author and comedian travelled to First World War battlefields and discovered an ancestor who may have passed down his entertainer genes.

On his father's side, David's great-grandfather suffered shell shock during World War 1 and was never the same again.

The episode took a happier turn when David learned that he descends from generations of travelling showmen who ran a funfair.

We can't decide if David's discoveries were as exciting as his fellow BGT judge, Amanda Holden’s showbiz revelations?

Episode 3: Ruth Jones

On Monday 26 October, Gavin and Stacey favourite, Ruth Jones found out ‘what’s occurring?’ in her family tree.

As you might imagine, this episode took Ruth on a journey of discovery through her rich Welsh roots. Along the way, she learned about her grandfather’s role in the establishment of the NHS, something that’s all the more moving at the moment. Did your ancestors serve on the Home Front like Ruth's?

Episode 4: Liz Carr

This shortened series of Who Do You Think You Are? concluded on Monday 2 November when Silent Witness star Liz Carr explored her Irish ancestry.

A woman of many talents, Liz is also a comedian and prominent disability rights activist. In her episode, she unravelled emotional links to the Merchant Navy, crime and the Irish Famine. In particular, Liz found herself shocked by an attempted murder testimony and even visited the scene of the crime. Speaking about her discoveries, she said:

"'I'm quite rarely speechless, but I'm almost speechless.'"

Although there might have been fewer episodes than we’d like, Who Do You Think You Are? UK season 17 kept us captivated from start to finish.

Use #WDYTYA to join the Who Do You Think You Are? conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Has the show left you inspired to delve into your own heritage? You too can make amazing family discoveries, just like the stars. Here's how to get started.

Cover photo credit: BBC Press Office/Twitter.

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Picture of Niall Cullen - Content Marketing LeadNiall Cullen