Richard and Judy's Blog
Monday 31 January 2011
Hi everyone. Well, that’s it – 15 days filming for BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are is over and I’m on the plane home. A few hours ago my producer/director said: ‘That’s a programme wrap!’ and our little team of five in a foreign field clapped and embraced. It’s been quite a journey, in every sense of the word.
What an incredible, unforgettable experience. The genealogical research both at home and abroad has been outstandingly good. I have discovered direct bloodline ancestors I never dreamt existed, and with no gaps at all in a line going steadily back through generations of grandparents with ever-increasing numbers of ‘greats’ before their names.
WDYTYA are rightly very keen I don’t give any details away, such as what I discovered, or where I have been, which is fair enough – in fact a lot of my correspondents on Twitter have explicitly asked me to keep schtum on the specifics so they can enjoy the unfolding story when it goes out later this year. But I can tell you that I have made a series of discoveries about my forebears that took me utterly by surprise and which were almost all riveting, and sometimes shocking. When I tell my family – in strictest confidence, of course – where we come from, in time and space and DNA-ville, they may well just fall over.
The small team I have been travelling with have all become firm friends since we began filming over two weeks ago. Their delight in my increasing surprise and astonishment as we travelled steadily back in time was obvious and rather touching. Every evening when we had dinner together we would pick over the day’s discoveries, trying to analyse their meaning, and trying to decide if my family past has any echoes in my own personality and behaviour, or that of my family.
As the subject of the programme, everything is kept absolutely secret from you until the moment is right to reveal the next ancestor’s identity, their story, where they lived, etc. It’s like putting a jigsaw together with no picture on the lid of the box to guide you – although the further back you go, the more you begin to get an idea of what it is you’re assembling.
I’ve met some fascinating people – genealogists are, well, very genial, I discovered – and learned things about historic events that significantly altered my received wisdom from history books.
In short, it has been a blast, and I cannot wait to see the finished product. As soon as I have a TX date, I will pass it on.
Meanwhile the Book Club goes from strength to strength, thanks to your brilliant support. All our new authors, all eight of them, are selling very well indeed and deservedly so. Two passengers on this flight have come up to me to say how much they enjoyed The Postmistress, The Blasphemer, and Room, and said they’ll be trying out the rest too. I told them hand on heart that there isn’t a dud on the list – they are all very different, but each is a cracking read. Judy and I are so glad you are enjoying them so much.
Speaking of the missus – this is the longest period me and Jude have been apart. I used to be away for about six days when I was making an extreme weather series called Eye of the Storm for ITV, but this is the first time we’ve got into double figures. I’ve had the best time but I can’t wait to get home. And of course, I had to miss Chloe’s progression through round two of Dancing On Ice. You can’t access the ITV Player or the BBC’s I Player from abroad, but there are ways and means, involving programme recordings on the TV at home, mobile phone videos, and texting them. Not brilliant quality – especially the sound – but good enough to see how well she did. Did you watch it? How about that frog lift! Anyway, that’s old news…boy did she knock it out of the park last night! As you’d expect, myself and Judy were biting our nails as the lights dimmed and the music begun. We knew she was attempting a very difficult, and not to mention dangerous neck spin and as we all saw from Vanilla Ice’s tumble, this programme can be dangerous!
I had a brief chat with her before the show and as usual she was brimming with excitement and confidence, and I can’t tell you how thankful we are to everyone out there that voted for our Chloe – this really is the best way to spend a Sunday and all of the family send our love to all of Chloe and Michael’s supporters! Honestly can’t thank you enough. We’ll be back rinkside next Sunday clapping like seals at feeding time. It’s ‘Vegas’ week next so we’re prepared for one hell of a show!
Oh well, back to reality. I’ve got a two-day pilot to shoot in a few days down in Sussex, then I must pop in to the edit suite to see how WDYTYA is coming along – not that I’ll be allowed to touch so much as a single frame of it. My producer/director calls those shots, and having seen some of her other programmes, I know my story couldn’t be in more skilful hands.
It’s good fun being a freelance. Glad I didn’t leave it too late; feels like I’m entering a whole new season of my life.