There is a new series on Tuesday night on BBC TV and on the iPlayer that gives all of us a great insight into a bit of social history. These types of programmes can give us family historians a better understanding of our ancestor's times and so make more sense of their lives.
24 Hours in the Past is a living reality documentary in which six celebrities travel back in time to the 19th century, spending four full days experiencing the relentless graft of the working poor in Victorian Britain.
Impressionist Alistair McGowan, former minister Ann Widdecombe, actress Zoe Lucker, world champion hurdler Colin Jackson, actor Tyger Drew-Honey and presenter Miquita Oliver are the volunteers, whose first 24 hours lands them in the dustyard, where they have to sift through mountains of dirt, rotting veg and old bones. Presented by Fi Glover, with historian Ruth Goodman.
The BBC 2 TV programme: Nelson in His Own Wordsis on our screens today, or can be seen on the iPlayer for 30 days.
Horatio Nelson was Britain's greatest naval hero and this programme shows us how he was also a prolific letter writer. The correspondence reveals that Nelson was a very different and more complex man than the hero that Britain created after his death. Using Nelson's letters this drama documentary exposes Nelson's skilful and manipulative use of PR to advance his career, and shows how he was careful in his praise of his rivals - in case they threatened his own prospects. And the letters reveal how his passionate love affair with Lady Emma Hamilton changed his life forever. The programme stars the highly regarded RSC actor Jonathan Slinger as Nelson.
In a twist, TheGenealogist have a fascinating article on their website that reveals more of Nelsons words but this time as featured in his last will and testament that can be found using their resources. Of particular interest is the codicil that Nelson wrote just before the Battle of Trafalgar "in sight of the combined fleets of France and Spain" that asked the King and Government to provide for his mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton. With the great victory that Nelson delivered, but losing his life in the process, the authorities heaped money and titles on his family while ignoring his very last wishes in the codicil he had written on the day of his death!
The final episode of the Who Do You Think You Are? series concluded last night and it was a good episode full of dramatic events and surprises. Although focusing on just a few members of John Simpson's family, it highlighted the surprises and difficulties in family history research.
The programme helped John Simpson discover more about his great grandmother leaving her husband to run off with American wildwest showman and aviation pioneer, Samuel Cody and the fabrication of details they used to disguise the fact they weren't legally married. The 1911 census document illustrated in great detail that our ancestors did not always tell the truth!
The episode had its fair share of tragedies including the death of Cody and the poisoning of his great great grandfather and also highlighted the often complicated nature of family life. As the finale of the series, it certainly had its share of twists and turns. What did you think of the programme?
The penultimate episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are? features iconic 60s singer, songwriter and actress Marianne Faithfull.
The programme looks to be concentrating on her maternal side who were of Austro-Hungarian aristocratic descent. The 'von Sacher-Masoch' family contained a number of writers and literary experts and Marianne's grandfather was also a war hero for Germany in the First World War. This partly kept them from Nazi persecution as they had some Jewish forebears in the family but their existence in Vienna in the 1940s was precarious as they quietly opposed the regime, distributing anti-Nazi leaflets.
It promises to be another interesting episode and is on BBC1 tonight at 9pm. If you'd like a preview, there's an interesting article on TheGenealogist at http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/featuredarticles/wdytya2013_faithfull.php