Who Do You Think You Are?

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Frank Gardner

Series 12 - Episode 7 Frank Gardner



The BBC’s security correspondent is a famously tough customer. And he’s very much hoping to find steely stoicism in his ancestors, the sort of strength his recently deceased mother – “a massive inspiration to me” – had. In fact, there’s a sense here that his whole quest is being undertaken as part of the grieving process for his mother, who liked to claim her family “came over with the Normans”.

So did they? Frank certainly finds some eminent forebears in an edition that hits what you might call the genealogical jackpot more than once. His grandfather never mentioned his own father, who was, it turns out, a leading light of Victorian science, his bust displayed on a plinth in Oxford.

But discovering the reasons for family silences is often a sad business and here it’s not long before Frank uncovers tales of love, sickness and disaster. (“I said I wasn’t going to cry on this bloody programme!”), then later gets a personal insight into the bloody intrigues of the Tudor court.


BBC news correspondent Frank Gardner sets out to find out whether there is any truth in his late mother's claim that her side of the family arrived in Britain with the Normans. Along the way, he traces his ancestry back to his 10-time great-grandfather Sir Michael Stanhope - a knight of the Tudor court, who was accused of treason. But the journey does not end there, as he gets much closer to his mother's suspicions than he could ever have imagined.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Frank Gardner
Director Grace Chapman
Series Producer Kathryn Taylor