What’s coming up on Who Do You Think You Are?

From Alex Kingston to Patrick Stewart, here's the lowdown on the latest series of the BBC's family history programme

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Tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? kicks off another round of famous faces digging up their past and uncovering tales of family success and tragedy. Deputy editor of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine Claire Vaughan gives us a taster of the upcoming series…

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Samantha Womack: The former EastEnders actress is thrilled to discover that several of her ancestors were also performers. But there are also sad stories to be uncovered, including a great-great uncle who died in an orphanage, and a great-grandmother abandoned aged two.

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Gregg Wallace: Masterchef’s co-presenter sheds a tear or two over his ancestors. He investigates great-grandfather Henry Sprigett who deserted his wife and children before turning into an emotional wreck over the story of his great-great-grandmother. “I just want to go home and hug the dog,” he announces sorrowfully.

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Patrick Stewart: This is a moving episode about Stewart’s father, Alfred. Other than his “adventure stories”, Patrick knew little of Alfred’s army career –including the key role he played in the fight to recapture France during the Second World War.

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Annie Lennox: Lennox’s story is one of poverty in 19th-century Scotland. “It sounded like a Dickensian novel. Children born illegitimately were put to work as skivvies,” says Lennox, of a young ancestor.

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Hugh Dennis: The satirist’s grandfathers, Ronald and Godfrey, survived the Great War – but their experiences were very different. “It’s absolutely inconceivable that anybody had to go through that,” he explains.

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Alex Kingston: Doctor Who actress Alex Kingston travels back in time to meet her great (times four) grandmother, widow Elizabeth Braham, who made ends meet in the most inventive of ways. “She was a force of nature – she was so smart, that’s all I can say,” smiles Kingston.

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William Roache: The Coronation Street actor goes to the seaside. “My great-grandfather was a big entrepreneur who, when Blackpool was just burgeoning, bought a shop between the two piers” – it sold some interesting wares is all we can say!

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Celia Imrie: “I knew my mother was privileged, but I hoped that side would be kind to people and not sit round drinking tea all day long.” The actress’s wish comes true as she traces several ancestors present at key events in history who “stood up for their beliefs and didn’t compromise”.

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John Barnes: His grandfather Frank was feared by the British during the Second World War and the former footballer sets out to investigate why. “We discovered the role he played in the early movement towards Jamaican Independence and were astonished when we found that he was the subject of secret telegrams from the Jamaican governor,” says series producer Colette Flight.

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John Bishop: Comedian John Bishop finds he has an army band member and lay vicar in his family tree. “John made an extraordinary discovery and responds with his trademark humour,” says Colette Flight. “He finds plenty to identify with in ways he didn’t expect.”

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Claire Vaughan is deputy editor of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. For more on the series, or for advice on how to research your family tree, go to www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com 

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The new series of Who Do You Think You Are? starts tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1