Friday, 31 July 2015

Sherlock Victorian Special

Don't know whether you've heard, but it looks very much like Sherlock's Christmas Special will be set in the Victorian period - good news for any period drama fans amongst you.

Sherlock Holmes was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1880s, a time when policing and detective work was new and novel to the general public, and became arguably the most famous fictional detective of all time. There have been numerous adaptations and re-adaptations of the great detective over the years - not least the recent Robert Downey Junior films, the immensely popular Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock series, and the US-set Elementary which stars Jonny Lee Miller.

We'll have to wait and see if the Christmas Special comes up to the standards of Sherlock fans (who are notoriously passionate,) - should be interesting!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Learn the Lingo - Genealogy

It suddenly occurred to me that a lot of people won't even be familiar with the term genealogy, so...


Genealogy is the study of lines of descent. In practice, this usually means starting with recent history and working backwards through time.

A genealogist studies lines of descent - either their own or other people's - to discover information about ancestors and relatives, and produce family trees. It's the stories that really bring it alive though - everyone's life means something, and it's so interesting to find the stories that make up your heritage.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

WDYTYA? USA - Kelsey Grammar

OK, so this was the last episode of this series of WDYTYA? USA on Watch - the UK hasn't yet picked up the Minnie Driver episode because she was previously featured on the UK show.

So, Kelsey Grammar's episode rounded off the series on Watch. And it was fairly interesting, focussing on aspects of American history that we in the UK probably don't get to see that much - like the wagon trails west. We tend to think of US immigration as being from Europe etc., and not think of the continent-wide journeys taken by thousands of Americans from the East coast to the Western states.

The other enduring aspect of this video was the all-too-relatable story of alcoholism and family strife that permeated into the family of Kelsey's grandmother. It makes for an interesting story, but not one that you would ever want to have to experience yourself.

Can't wait for the UK series to return to our screens now!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

WDYTYA? USA - Valerie Bertinelli

Last night's WDYTYA? USA episode featured Valerie Bertinelli - a US actress more well-known in the states than over here.

Her episode focussed on the Italian and British sides of her family. The Italian side of her family led to a case of attempted murder - it really does surprise me how often US celebrities have a link to murder in some way.

Valerie's British side led to a gateway-ancestor, which means that their family is well-documented and usually very posh/noble to boot. Mere mortals may only dream of a gateway ancestor and royal connections - but WDYTYA? USA just waltzes straight in with one, still, it makes for an interesting facet of the story.

Also featured were elements of Pennsylvania's history and its founding, as well as its Quaker connections.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Who Do You Think You Are? Series 12

The UK series of Who Do You Think You Are? is almost back with us, with a fresh crop of celebrities for season 12 (12 series - incredible!)

The line up for this series at the moment looks something like this:
  • Paul Hollywood (from the Great British Bake-Off)
  • Derek Jacobi
  • Anne Reid (Coronation Street, Dinnerladies, Last Tango in Halifax)
  • Frances de la Tour (prolific British actress)
  • Mark Gatiss (known for, amongst other things, writing and starring in Sherlock)
  • Jane Seymour (the actress and Bond girl, not the wife of Henry VIII)
  • Gareth Malone (The Choir)
  • Jerry Hall (the model and former Mrs Jagger)
  • Frank Gardner (journalist and BBC security correspondent)
  • Anita Rani (journalist, broadcaster and presenter who often appears on The One Show)
Should be good!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

WDYTYA? USA - Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams' episode of Who Do You Think You Are? USA aired on Tuesday night in the UK. (Sorry for the delay in posting my write-up!)

Rachel travelled around in her episode with sister Kayleen - a make-up artist to the stars, including Rachel. Both are originally Canadian - and tracked their Canadian routes back to the Gray family, dispossessed of their home in America after the US War of Independence. This was an interesting feature of the episode for people who may not know as much about US and Canadian history.

The other stand-out of this episode was the sisters' English ancestors, one of whom was a footman to a sizeable home. Rachel and Kayleen were delighted by the 'very Downton Abbey' nature of it all! And to be honest, their naivety throughout was pretty endearing - this seems to be more of a facet of the American series than the British. The British celebrities seem less surprised, less uninformed, than many of their US counterparts. Make of that what you will. Still, an interesting episode.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

WDYTYA? USA - Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Last night's Who Do You Think You Are? USA on Watch was Jesse Tyler Ferguson's episode - Jesse is probably most famous for his role as Mitchell on modern family.

I don't know whether it's something to do with the air, but WDYTYA? USA tends to involve more historical murder trials than the UK series. We plunged straight in at the deep-end with the story of Jesse W Uppercu(e) - Jesse's great-grandfather. Honestly, I think that there could be a TV series just about this man - he seems to have led an interesting life to say the least. I recommend you find the episode on an on-demand or streaming service if you missed it last night - it really is one of the more interesting stories they've featured. It's difficult to explain too much without giving the game away - but I, for one, really enjoyed the episode.

I also have to mention just how likeable Jesse Tyler Ferguson is himself - if acting doesn't work out, I'm sure a career in presenting wouldn't go awry. I love him (and his sassiness.)