When is the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? USA?

By Guest, 1 May 2019 - 10:39am

We take a look at this month’s top TV and radio for family historians, including Who Do You Think You Are? USAVictorian Sensations and more

Singer-songwriter and actor Mandy Moore in Who Do You Think You Are?
Singer-songwriter and actor Mandy Moore travels Down Under in the footsteps of an ancestor who crossed the globe (Credit: Warner Bros)

Pick of the month

Who Do You Think You Are? USA
Starts 16 May, 9pm, W

The faces may not be as immediately familiar as those that are featured in the British version of the series, but the US spin on WDYTYA? is every bit as entertaining as its cousin on this side of the pond. Especially when, as with the episode featuring actor and singer Hilary Duff that airs on the UKTV channel W on 16 May, we encounter some truly remarkable ancestors.

Not only does Duff learn about a forebear who led a US colony in its battle against dastardly pirates led by Blackbeard, but she also traces her Scottish roots and discovers that she’s descended from a medieval king. It’s also an episode that says much about how misfortune can befall even the most influential families.

The research conducted by actor and comedian Molly Shannon takes her to Ireland, where she wants to find out more about her mother’s family. She discovers why the church you attended could be key to surviving the hard years of the Potato Famine, and, more happily, meets Irish cousins for the first time.

Jean Smart’s journey into the past takes her back to the 17th century and Salem, Massachusetts. The actor is descended from Dorcas Galley, who was put on trial for witchcraft in 1692. The episode draws on historical records that show how, a decade after these notorious events, the families of the accused petitioned the Government for compensation and restoration of legal rights. Adding to the excitement, we hear tales of a thievery ring.

Finally, actor and singer–songwriter Mandy Moore heads to Australia for her episode, following the story of a forebear who was born in Ireland then travelled around the world. 

The final episodes of the current series follow in June, starring actor Josh Duhamel, singer and actor Matthew Morrison, and actor and director Regina King.

Get more previews of this month's top TV in the May issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, on sale now


Also showing

May, BBC Two

It’s 40 years since Margaret Thatcher led the Conservatives to victory in the 1979 election. How did a woman from a comparatively modest background in Grantham, Lincolnshire, rise to become not just Britain’s first female prime minster, but a leader who broke with the postwar consensus so decisively?

Over five episodes, Thatcher traces the rise and fall of a figure who regularly tops public polls of both the best and worst British prime ministers since the Second World War, revealing a story that has much to say about how British society changed during the 20th century.

Royals on the Frontline
Starts Monday 6 May, 8pm, Yesterday

Five generations of the Windsors have served with the military and put themselves in harm’s way, even in an era when there are worries about the propaganda value of an enemy capturing or even killing a royal. 

Over three episodes, this series focuses on that service, beginning with Prince Philip’s role at the battle of Cape Matapan, an Allied naval victory in the Mediterranean in 1941, then Princess Elizabeth’s decision to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, where she trained as a mechanic and truck driver. Here, mixing with young people from working-class and middle-class backgrounds, she gained a new insight into the citizens who were soon to become her subjects.

Time Travels
Tuesday 14 May, BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Sounds

The magazine series focusing on Scottish history returns with an episode marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of archaeologist Ludovic McLellan Mann (1869–1955). It’s a portrait of an eccentric showman who had some very fanciful ideas, but was important in pioneering the preservation of historical sites.

Archive on 4: The University Of The Air
Saturday 18 May, BBC Radio 4

When he was starting out in his career, Gordon Brown worked as a tutor for the Open University. As the OU enters its 50th year, the former prime minister narrates the story of a remarkable institution, looking back at its birth and considering the challenges it now faces.

Victorian Sensations
Starts Tuesday 21 May, BBC Four

The 1890s was a decade of tumultuous change in the UK, when our forebears were fascinated by X-rays and electricity. Excuse enough for mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, actor Paul McGann and psychotherapist Philippa Perry to make documentaries exploring the technology, art and culture of the late 19th century. It’s an era brought to life by director Sebastian Barfield with the help of material from the archives of the British Film Institute.

Vanity Fair
Starts Sunday 26 May, 3pm, BBC Radio 4

Comedian Al Murray, the man behind the Pub Landlord, has an illustrious ancestor: his 3x great grandfather is William Makepeace Thackeray. Now Murray features in a new radio adaptation of the novelist’s most famous book. As well as narrating the tale of irrepressible social climber Becky Sharp, he contributes new material to a three-part reworking of the tale. “Thackeray’s masterpiece skewers class, celebrity, society and, of course, snobbery so perfectly that he could have written it yesterday,” says Murray. He ends by quoting the book’s subtitle: “The Novel Without a Hero rides again!”.

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