The Doctor Who assistant-turned-film director looks into his family background.
Coming from a single parent family, Clarke starts his mother who came to Britain from Trinidad to get a job as a nurse. He looks into his great grandmother, Elizabeth Clarke, a seamstress who was actually married in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. They moved to Trinidad during the war as the island was experiencing a boom during World War One exporting chocolate. However, when she became widowed, she moved to New York and became a domestic worker, leaving four children behind for several years.
Clarke then looks into the father he hardly knew, and learns that his father’s mother came from Grenada to find work in Trinidad’s oil industry. He learns that she was part of a forbidden Baptist religion and helped in the fight for Trinidad’s independence. His investigations into his family leads him to visit other parts of the Caribbean, and learns that his four times great grandfather, Glasgow, was born into slavery, and that the family where the victim of an especially cruel slave master.
As Clarke says in the episode, while there are a few times on WDYTYA? that an episode can chart someone back many centuries, there are many more stories where the story stops suddenly, and in his case this is due to one of the darkest periods in British history. Episodes like this help to remind us of the role and cruelty of the slave trade in people’s lives today. It certainly has been one of the best episodes in the series, and is pretty emotional when Clarke reads about the treatment slaves suffered on the plantation Glasgow was on.
Who Do You Think You Are? is on BBC One at 20.00