Ed Balls is the latest famous face to have his family history put under the microscope on Who Do You Think You Are? this week, with the former Labour politician set to discover some key insights into his ancestry.

Advertisement

And in a first-look clip exclusive to RadioTimes.com, Balls expresses "deep concern" after finding out his distant relative William Dunbar could have been involved in mistreating poor and vulnerable people.

"In both cases, the workhouse is – and the master of the workhouse is – mistreating one inmate and not feeding another, but in both cases, the accusation is that William Dunbar is an accessory," he explains, before reading an extract from a history book.

"The jury was occupied some time in deliberating upon what verdict they should return," he reads. "Some of them proposing a verdict of manslaughter against the master and surgeon."

He adds: "But the jury is warned by the coroner not to find them guilty of manslaughter."

"It's really hard in the space of a few hours to go from celebrating the public service of William Dunbar, his navy record is about fighting, helping to defend our country," Balls explains.

"That feels like a noble pursuit, but to then read these accounts of the poorest and the most vulnerable being mistreated cruelly and to read that he might have been part of that... so from pride to deep concern.

"I don't want to be ashamed. I'm related to him, I don't want him to be part of the cruelty – I want him to be one of the good guys not one of the bad guys."

Earlier this month, Balls told RadioTimes.com and other press that finding out his ancestor Christopher Green had been an arsonist was “quite difficult” for him.

"In the end, history is not kind to people who break machines, whether it’s the Luddites or people who said computers won’t make our lives better. Probably in the end, he was on the wrong side of history but I felt very much his pain and stress, and the fact that he was willing to go to prison for a year to protest about wages… it was brave what he did," Balls explained.

More like this
Advertisement

Who Do You Think You Are? continues Tuesday 30th November at 9pm on BBC One. Find out what else to watch with our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Documentaries hub.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement