If last week’s episode featuring Danny Dyer was fun and royal frolics, this week’s edition of WDYTYA? starring Amanda Holden was a somewhat more sombre affair.
The Britain’s Got Talent judge started by looking into her mother’s side of the family which had French connections. This was due to her five-times great grandfather marrying a Frenchwoman after a series of troublesome events: running away from an apprenticeship, lying about his age in attempt to join the marines and ending up in jail for doing so, changing his name and joining the army at the height of the Peninsula War against Napoleon, and then fleeing from the army in order to be with a woman from Bordeaux that he fell for.
Later on, she looks into the life of her paternal grandfather who was a male nurse who committed suicide in his 70s. We learn that he served in the Royal Army Medical Core as a psychiatric nurse, and was a survivor of the Lancastria, a little-know event that is actually the most catastrophic maritime event in British history in terms of loss of life. The sinking of the Lancastria cost more in human lives than the Titanic and the Lusitania combined.
Holden’s history stands in stark contrast to Dyer’s. While Dyer’s history did deal with war, namely the Civil War, the more recent events of the Second World War still feel more disturbing because there are so many people around today who remember these events. Coupled into that the fact that the Lancastria was such a horrific event that hardly anyone knows about – partly due to the fact that Winston Churchill forbade any mention of it at the time – the overall feeling with this episode is that there is much that needs to be re-remembered and looked back upon.
There were still some light-hearted moments in the episode however, the main one being that Holden discovered that her French ancestors owned a vineyard, giving her the chance to drink the wine that is still being made there.
Who Do You Think You Are? is available on iplayer until January 6 2017