An investigation of actor Warwick Davis’s family tree reveals what is one of the darkest episodes of WDYTYA? this series, dealing with bigamy, insanity, and things that we now consider to be racist.
Davis begins by investigating his mother’s side of the family, where he learns that his 2xGreat Grandfather Frederick Jr. was born illegitimate. Further investigation reveals that his 3XGreat Grandfather Frederick Sn. had two wives at the same time, and was trying his best to keep his two families apart.
Later on Davis looks into his father’s side of the family, where he uncovers that his Great Grandfather Dennis John Manning was working in a munitions factory during the First World War, but died in 1918 in a mental hospital. His father meanwhile, Davis’s 2xGreat Grandfather Dennis, was a originally a labourer but then became a musician. Unfortunately he was working with minstrels and he blacked-up when performing.
This is certainly a challenging episode, dealing with so many hard elements. The way each person come out does seem to vary. The bigamist does care for his family in his will; the one who became insane did take responsible measures earlier in his life; the minstrel meanwhile died when his career was taking a downward turn. It is definitely hard to sympathise with the last of these figures today due to our attitudes towards race, although Davis is obviously able to, partly because they are both performers.
This is certainly an episode which ends with the viewer getting mixed emotions, but it does make for a worthwhile, interesting and challenging watch. It deserves your attention.
Who Do You Think You Are? is on BBC One on Wednesdays at 20.00.