Following from his royal revelations on Who Do You Think You Are? Danny Dyer is now looking deeper in the lives of his ancestors.
Having originally learned that he was a direct descendent of Henry III, Dyer learns about some even earlier ancestors, and in this first episode looks at four of them that lived between the 9th and 13th centuries: Rollo, the Viking that founded the Norman dynasty; William the Conqueror; Henry II, who helped to unify the country after civil war and was married to Eleanor of Aquitaine; and the incredibly pious Louis IX of France, later Saint Louis.
This is obviously a light-hearted historical programme. If you know your history the chances that you have already come across much of what is discussed. The entertaining parts are Dyer’s experiences, from eating Viking food which makes him want to, “spew my ring up”, to re-enacting a procession Louis performed carrying the relic of Christ’s crown of thorns through Paris, barefood.
It was the later segment about Louis that was the most interesting historically, mainly because there is not that much discussed in British history programmes generally about French royal history. It was a joy not just to learn of Louis’s deep religious beliefs that resulted in him building the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, but also Dyer’s reaction to him learning of Louis’s sainthood. It was also, let’s be honest, fun to see him having to put specially made coins depicting him and the West Ham United crest into a swear box.
In terms of an education, this is more of an introduction rather than anything in-depth, but the bits you don’t know allow you the chance to stare in wonder like our guide.
Danny Dyer’s Right Royal Family is on BBC One at 21.00 on Wednesdays.