In the final episode of the current series, the newsreader Sophie Raworth looks into a family history that is partly tragic and partly glorious.
She begins by looking into a branch of the family called the Motts, who were a family of piano makers to royalty, and one of whom played for the Prince Regent. However, the member of the family Raworth is directly descended from, her 4xGreat Grandfather Samuel Mott, was very low down in the family. His siblings refused to help him when he was in debt and he eventually went mad, committing suicide in Jersey.
Raworth tries to find out what caused this. She learns that her 5xGreat Grandparents where religious dissenters from Birmingham who suffered persecution and riots in the city, so they tried to make a new start for themselves in New York, only for more misfortune to occur.
Meanwhile, another branch of Raworth’s family, the Crowders, were mainly gardeners. One was a briefly a student at Kew Gardens, but the most interesting of all, 5xGreat Grandfather Abraham Crowder, worked for gentry in Yorkshire and grew the ultimate status symbol of the age: the pineapple.
In this finale, the main area of interest was seeing the differing outcomes of Raworth’s family. On one hand you had the tragic story of Samuel, with his death and hardship, which is not help by his unsympathetic siblings. On the other you have Abraham, who was one of the best men in his field and appropriately for a grower of fruit lived a ripe old age.
This episode again does make me feel slightly uneasy for my lack of history in certain areas. However, the unease comes from what I do know. I knew nothing of the Bangladesh War of Independence from last week, but I did know that back in the 17th and 18th century the biggest way you could show off to people was by having a pineapple. I can’t help but feel I’ve been learning the wrong things.
Overall this series of Who Do You Think You Are? has been one of the better ones, especially right at the beginning with Danny Dyer’s episode and his surprising royal connections, but just about everyone had an interesting story to tell.
Who Do You Think You Are? is on the BBC iPlayer.