On Sunday, July 26, 2015 at 9pm EST, Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA 2015) returns to TLC in the United States for more great episodes:
TLC will air the U.S. premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode, where the best-selling author sets off to uncover her maternal French roots. She finds that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising twist.
Tom Bergeron, who is aware of his French Canadian roots on his paternal side, but wants to know what brought his ancestors to North America. He goes as far back as his 10x great grandmother to find the answer.
Bryan Cranston, who comes to discover an unfortunate pattern amongst the men in his family.
Ginnifer Goodwin, who sets out to learn about her mysterious paternal great grandparents, whom her father, regretfully, does not know much about either.
Alfre Woodard, who strives to find out more about the paternal side of her family, and explores how her surname came to be.
While you’re waiting for Who Do You Think You Are Summer 2015 to kick off, enjoythis unseen footage from the J.K. Rowling episode on the old WhoDoYouThinkYouAre website and these fun interviews with genealogy television industry leaders:
This Sunday evening on TLC, Bill Paxton is the celebrity guest on Who Do You Think You Are?
I took a sneak peek at the episode, and I love two things about it. First, Bill’s unabashed love for his father, who recently passed away and whom he mentions throughout the episode (“My dad would love this!”). I think of how many of us have lost someone who we wish could hear about our family history discoveries and know that we’re appreciating the past.
Second, of course, the ancestor stories on WDYTYA? always fire my imagination and teach me some history. This episode is no exception. Bill’s four-times great-grandfather Benjamin Sharp was a Revolutionary War veteran who served at the age of 14. As a spy. (How cool is that? How worried must his mother have been?) The show takes Bill to the site of a battle where Bill reads his ancestor’s first-hand account of the event.
But that wasn’t the whole story: Benjamin Sharp still lived a full, rich life after becoming a veteran by age 18. He rose in the ranks of civil service under the young U.S. government. But of course there’s a twist in his later life that dismays Bill and complicates his growing admiration for Benjamin. As most celebrity guests on WDYTYA? conclude, our ancestors were complex people who were just living their lives, not trying to create squeaky-clean legacies their descendants could brag about.
If you watch WDYTYA? this Sunday, tell us what you think of the episode on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.
Did you catch the opening episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on Sunday evening? I screened it along with several of this season’s episodes that were shared with us here at Genealogy Gems. WDYTYA 2015 doesn’t disappoint!
Julie Chen’s episode marked the first trip of WDYTYA to China. We followed her as she unraveled the riches-to-rags-to-riches story of her grandfather and great-grandfather, which ended at her great-grandfather’s tomb high on a hillside in rural China. (Click here to watch some clips posted by TLC, including one on the feng shui principles behind his grave site selection.)
This coming Sunday at 10pm EST, we go with Josh Groban into even deeper ancestral history: 1600s Germany. He follows the trail of an immigrant ancestor who died en route to bringing his family to Philadelphia.
As TLC explains, Josh “discovers a brilliant man who was not only a deacon, but also a music and singing teacher and well-known astronomer. But Josh finds that his ancestor’s predictions of cataclysmic doom put him in the crosshairs of the church and the fate of his family on the line.” We get to live our genealogy travel dreams vicariously through him, as he tours several beautiful historic places his ancestor lives and handles original documents about his family that are hundreds of years old.
There’s so much more to come with this season of WDYTYA! On March 22, an ancestor of Angie Harmon (Law & Order) will take us into a little-known rebellion by Revolutionary War troops who served faithfully under George Washington at Valley Forge. On March 29, Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) learns about a pattern of family loss and dysfunction that reverberates back several generations. And there’s more to come: Tony Goldwyn, America Ferrera, Bill Paxton and Melissa Etheridge will all appear in April! Watch a WDYTYA spring season teaser below: