“Who Do You Think You Are?” – How are they doing?

I have watched the first two episodes of “Who Do You Think You Are?” and have been enjoying the program very much. These episodes have dealt with several important aspects of United States history which I found interesting and learned something new.

The shows for Sarah Jessica Parker and Emmitt Smith both focused on one family line. The British shows, more often than not, cover several family lines which can make the journey more inclusive.

Unfortunately with North American television there is the requirement of many commercial breaks. As a result the length of the program is shortened which does not allow for much leeway in the amount information they can cover in one hour.

There has been a lot of talk about wanting to hear the stories of ordinary people. Why do they have to use celebrities? One thing to remember is that whether Sarah Jessica Parker is an actress or a cashier her family history would still be the same.

What is more or less certain in relation to your family history is that you will learn about different countries while doing your research. In North America almost everyone comes from somewhere else. This series will introduce people to countries and their histories that they might not have previously known.

If you have a family connected to one of the places or events featured they may also provide you with new sources to research your own family history.

The ratings for the program have been good. If this keeps up would they possibly consider doing another season? I think that would be fantastic!

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

“Who Do You Think You Are?”

The United States version of this popular British television show is to air on March 5th on NBC television. This show has crossed the globe with Canada, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, Poland and South Africa all creating their own versions of “Who Do You Think You Are?” since the programs inception in 2004.

In Britain it is not just the television show “Who Do You Think You Are?” there is also the monthly magazine, website and family history exhibition, “Who Do You Think You Are? Live” that is held annually the last weekend of February.

I have had the pleasure of watching the versions from Canada, Britain and Australia. The stories have been interesting and along the way I learned something new. The BBC production of Jane Horrocks family history took her to Lancashire to see how her family was involved in the cotton industry. My family was also involved in the cotton industry in Lancashire so I learned a bit of history that related to my family story from her family story.

The Canadian version lasted one season and was only half an hour in length. A bit disappointing since you couldn’t really get into the journey of discovering the celebrity’s family history. In North America there is the unavoidable “commercial time” that cuts into the program. This is not as much of an issue in Britain and Australia.

There has been a lot of talk that people are disappointed in the fact that they are not showing the research process in this program and others like it. They believe this causes people to think they can just go online and find out their family history without doing much leg work.

The point of these programs is to present a story that the viewers will find interesting. I just enjoy the story aspect of the program and how the celebrity reacts to what is discovered about their family’s past.

How many of us actually knew what it took to research our family history when we first started? Something hooked us and we began our road of discovery into our own personal history. We learned the process along the way. If we knew the work involved would we have actually started researching our family history?

Let’s enjoy the ride that these people are embarking on and share their joys and sorrows in discovering their family stories.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

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