Meet the Izzards

The Mum's Line

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Mum's Line



Eddie Izzard’s mother died when he was six years old. She was a midwife who met his father, an accountant, while they were both working in Yemen (then Aden) in the 1950s. Here, Eddie touches on their story as part of a kind of epic-scale Who Do You Think You Are? in which he traces his lineage (sort of) from the earliest human ancestors 10,000 generations ago in Africa.

He’s following a genetic route map that suggests how all our ancestors migrated out of Africa 70,000 years ago and populated the rest of the world, so it’s really more like Who Do You Think We Were?, using genetic markers in Eddie’s DNA. He goes to Namibia to make fire with San bushmen and then Djibouti to fish, Turkey, Pompeii and Denmark (he has Viking blood) looking politely bemused throughout.

It’s an enjoyable paddle in the headwaters of the gene pool and
concludes tomorrow night.


Actor and comedian Eddie Izzard has never done anything by halves. When everyone else runs a marathon, he runs 43 in 51 days. When other celebrities research their family trees on TV, he employs geneticists and uses his own DNA to trace his ancestors out of Africa and into Europe over 200,000 years. In the first of two programmes, Eddie explores his maternal ancestry, something close to his heart as his mother died when he was six years old. Beginning in Namibia's Kalahari Desert and moving on to Yemen, Turkey and Scandinavia, he encounters a variety of communities with whom he shares genetic markers, in a bid to strengthen the connection to his mum.