BBC “Who Do You Think You Are” to NBC

Reuters News Service reported today that the NBC television network has purchased the U.S. rights to the “Who Do You Think You Are?” series that has been a hit on BBC for the last four years. The BBC version involved tracing the family trees of celebrities and the ratings were fantastic.

In the U.S., the PBS show, “African-American Lives,” hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., traced the ancestors of some well-known African Americans through research and DNA. This 4-hour series was fascinating and I smiled a lot while watching it and seeing the looks of awe, wonderment, pride and some shock, too, on the faces of those featured. The end result was that a lot of them understood how much the past has shaped them today.

For many years, whenever I see an obituary of some singer or actor that has mention of upper Midwest roots, I do some research to just see where that person fit into the history of the upper Midwest. It has been interesting to see what the ancestral towns are and what the rest of the family was doing in times past.

A while back, I worked for a while for Timothy White on some projects. Timothy was a long time editor of Billboard and had previous connections with the Associated Press, Crawdaddy, and Rolling Stone Magazine. The project included the Midwestern roots of the Beach Boys that was published in his 1994 The Nearest Far Away Place: Brian Wilson, The Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience. The aim was to show the how the family background had an impact on the Beach Boys, both their music and lives. Other colleagues of mine did work on similar projects for Mr. White before his sudden death in 2002.

Another project I helped on was related to the roots of the late poet, John Berryman. The aim was to show how much his ancestry and its ups and downs affected his poetry, which was often dark. As genealogists we know how it helps us to understand the who and what that has preceded us. It often gives us insight into how our grandmother or father acted, or why there was a rift in the family. I think it is wonderful that some authors really want to understand the person or persons they are writing about. The ancestral background is abundant in public records.

© 2008, Paula Stuart-Warren. All rights reserved.

Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.