15 Who Do You Think You Are? revelations – from Boris Johnson’s blue blood to David Tennant’s footballing family

From scurrilous rogues to royals to national heroes, those celebrities sure do have interesting ancestors...

Scandals, family secrets and famous ancestors are commonplace in your average episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Here are some of the startling revelations from previous series…



David Tennant’s grandad was a bit of a David Beckham

Archie McLeod played for Derry City back in 1932 and married a local beauty queen called Nellie Blair. They became the Posh and Becks of their day – in Derry at least!

Martin Freeman’s grandfather was blind from birth 

That didn’t stop him becoming a successful church organist though, or having 21 children by three wives. And disappearing, abandoning the second wife and their 9 children…

Gary Lineker’s ancestor was cooped up for being a criminal

Gary describes his crime as “murder most fowl” and, indeed, it was: James Pratt stole six chickens.

Nigella Lawson’s grandfather helped liberate Bergen-Belsen

He worked in the Catering Corps, attempting to save the lives of thousands of starving prisoners when the concentration camps were liberated.

Alan Carr’s grandfather player for Newcastle United

He was prone to scoring hat-tricks.

Minnie Driver’s dad led a double life

She discovered he had another family when she was 12, but it wasn’t until she delved into his past that she learned he’d won a medal for bravery in World War II.

Davina McCall’s maternal grandfather did great things for France

Célestin Hennion is credited in France with being “the father of modern policing”. He was also central to one of the key events in 19th century French history, the Dreyfus Affair: he offered evidence that ultimately helped prove Alfred Dreyfus’ innocence.

Matthew Pinsent’s got some pretty famous ancestors

The Olympic gold medallist traced his family back to Catherine Howard (fifth wife of Henry VIII), then Edward I, next came William The Conquerer, and finally, Adam and Eve.

Alistair McGowan isn’t Scottish at all

The comedian thought he could trace his roots to Edinburgh, but it turned out he was of Irish and Indian descent.

Boris Johnson has royal blood

Boris can trace his roots back to a Turkish journalist and politician, German Prince Paul Von Wurttemberg, and George II – making the 18th century king his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.

Esther Rantzen’s great-grandfather had a colourful past

Montague Leverson wasn’t just charged with fraud. He also accidentally shot and killed the family’s parlour maid.

JK Rowling wasn’t the first single mother in her family

In fact, she’s descended from a long line of French single mothers.

Patsy Kensit’s clan had a history of crime

She already knew her dad was involved with the infamous Krays but was quite upset to learn that her grandfather had a dark past too.

Stephen Fry had relatives who died during the Holocaust

He was devastated to discover they’d perished at Auschwitz during World War II.

Graham Norton’s great-great-grandmother defied convention in the 1800s

She gave birth to four children out of wedlock.


Who Do You Think You Are? airs on August 13th, BBC1 at 9pm