Genealogy has become the second most popular hobby on the planet today. Have you seen these shows on TV and want to know what ancestry TV shows are on DVD for you to watch at anytime? Because of this rise in popularity it is understandable that we have several ancestry TV shows that we can choose to watch. In this post I will cover two of the more popular shows, Who Do You Think You Are? and Finding Your Roots, and how you can find and purchcase them on DVD.
Both of these shows include either a star or more than one celebrity that we are very familiar with. The star’s ancestry is explored, most notably a single branch where there is some particular interest.
I believe that the subject of genealogy has become popular for two main reasons. Firstly, we are fascinated by what has been discovered about our favorite celebrity. We are hooked from the very moment that their ancestry is laid out for the star and how they travel all over the country or even the planet.
Secondly, the truth behind family stories are uncovered and the stars get to discover ‘new’ ancestors that they knew nothing about. I am sure that these shows would not have become popular if Z-list celebrities were chosen, and uneventful information was brought to the star’s attention. Who would watch a show like that?
Check out my Which Ancestry TV Show Do You Watch? to find out what genealogy shows are currently on our TV screens.
Please note: I have included links for where you can purchase these show from both the United States and the United Kingdom. Please make sure that the DVD will play in your respected country in your DVD player.
Who Do You Think You Are? (US Version)
Following on from the success of the UK version of this show we see many American celebrities that we all know and love. This show was brought to our screens in 2010 as one of several replacements for The Jay Leno Show. After three seasons on the NBC it was unfortunately cancelled. Lucky for us though it was renewed by TLC.
Credit: Who Do You Think You Are? US
The US version of this genealogy show is very much similar to its UK counterpart. Stars that have featured on this show have included Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie O’Donnell, Martin Sheen, Jim Parsons, Kelsey Grammer, J.K. Rowling and Chris Noth.
The latest series to hit our screen has already featured Courtney Cox, with episodes tracing the ancestry of John Stamos and Liv Tyler still to follow.
Since airing seven years ago there have been 9 seasons and 62 episodes to date. Star of the hit TV show Friends serves as an Executive Producer of this show. Her ancestry was explored in the third episode of the first season.
The show is a partnership between Shed Media, NBC Entertainment and Ancestry.com. As the number one genealogy search website, Ancestry, is involved with the production of this show I expect that this television series will be on our screen for many, many years to come. I cannot see Ancestry parting ways with this show as I would imagine it has brought many people to research their ancestry at their website.
Season 1: Sarah Jessica Parker, Emmitt Smith, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee
Season 2: Vanessa L. Williams, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Steve Buscemi, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd
Please note: At present there are only 2 seasons that are available on DVD in the US.
Who Do You Think You Are? (UK Version)
The show that brought our attention to the world of genealogy and made it such a fascinating and interesting pastime for many people all over the world. Because of the success of the original UK show, (average more than 6 million viewers), it has been made in ten other countries, including the United States and Australia.
Credit: Who Do You Think You Are? UK
Since the UK version of the show began to air back in 2004 there have been 13 seasons and 117 episodes to date. Most of the seasons comprise ten episodes. Due to the success of the show it was nominated for a BAFTA Television Award 2010 for the Best Factual Series category. However, it missed out on this award to the One Born Every Minute show.
Despite not seeing any TV awards it is still on our screens and does not show any signs of slowing down. Over the years we have seen the ancestry explored of Britain’s most notable stars. They have included Jeremy Clarkson, Stephen Fry, David Tennant, Graham Norton, Jerry Springer, Martin Freeman and Alan Carr. On the latest season of the show there has been music sensation Cheryl and Lord of the Rings wizard Sir Ian McKellen.
Season 1 (2004), Season 2 (2006) and Season 3 (2006)
Season 1: Bill Oddie, Amanda Redman, Sue Johnston, Jeremy Clarkson, Ian Hislop, Moira Stuart, David Baddiel, Lesley Garrett, Meera Syal, Vic Reeves
Season 2: Jeremy Paxman, Sheila Hancock, Stephen Fry, Julian Clary, Jane Horrocks, Gurinder Chadha
Season 3: Barbara Windsor, Robert Lindsay, Colin Jackson, David Tennant, David Dickinson, Nigella Lawson, Jeremy Irons
Season 4 (2007), Season 5 (2008) and Season 6 (2009)
Season 4: Natasha Kaplinsky, John Hurt, Griff Rhys Jones, Carol Vorderman, Alistair McGowan, Graham Norton, Matthew Pinset
Season 5: Patsy Kensit, Boris Johnson, Jerry Springer, Esther Rantzen, Ainsley Harriott, David Suchet, Jodie Kidd, Laurnece Llewelyn-Bowen
Season 6: Rory Bremner, Fiona Bruce, Rick Stein, Zoe Wanamaker, Kevin Whately, Davina McCall, Chris Moyles, Kate Humble, David Mitchell, Kim Cattrall, Martin Freeman
Season 7 (2010), Season 8 (2011) and Season 9 (2012)
Season 7: Bruce Forsyth, Rupert Everett, Dervia Kirwan, Monty Don, Rupert Penry-Jones, Alexander Armstrong, Jason Donovan, Hugh Quarshie, Alan Cumming
Season 8: June Brown, J.K. Rowling, Sebastian Coe, Larry Lamb, Emilia Fox, Alan Carr, Robin Gibb, Richard Madeley, Len Goodman, Tracey Emin
Season 9: Samantha Womack, Gregg Wallace, Patrick Stewart, Annie Lennox, Hugh Dennis, Alex Kingston, William Roache, Celia Imrie, John Barnes, John Bishop
Season 10 (2013) and Season 11 (2014)
Season 10: Una Stubbs, Nigel Havers, Minnie Driver, Lesley Sharp, Gary Lineker, Nick Hewer, Nitin Ganatra, Sarah Millican, Marianne Faithfull, John Simpson
Season 11: Julie Walters, Brian Blessed, Tamzin Outhwaite, Brendan O’Carroll, Sheridan Smith, May Berry, Martin Shaw, Reggie Yates, Billy Connolly, Twiggy
Please note: At present there are 11 seasons that are available on DVD in the UK.
Finding Your Roots
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the US has aired three seasons of Finding Your Roots altogether. Beginning in early 2012 there have been a total of 30 episodes with 10 episodes per season. Each episode lasts for one hour and contains a single plot. The show’s two predecessors “African American Lives” and “Faces of America” contained a season-long plot. This approach has led to more episodes per season for the Finding Your Roots show.
Credit: Finding Your Roots
This genealogy show is presented by professor of English Literature Henry Louis Gates Jr. It is quite similar to Who Do You Think You Are? Each episode follows a celebrity as their family history is explored.
The difference though with this series is that it utilizes the latest trend in genealogy research … DNA Testing. The show though also looks at the diverse backgrounds to American people today.
The different backgrounds that are explored on the show include:
- African American
- Asian American
- Chinese American
- Greek American
- Indian American
- Irish American
- Italian American
- Jewish American
- Latin American
The first season of the show saw notable stars such as Barbara Walters, Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, John Legend and Martha Stewart to name but a few. Topics or backgrounds that were explored included slavery, origins of two celebrities surnames, descendants of immigrants and Hispanic heritage, as well as others.
Season 1: Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick, Jr; John Lewis and Cory Brooker; Barbara Walters and Geoffrey Canada; Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon; Rick Warren, Angela Buchdahl and Yasir Qadhi; Robert Downey, Jr. and Maggie Gyllenhall; Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice and Ruth Simmons; Martha Stewart, Margaret Cho and Sanjay Gupta; John Legend and Wanda Sykes; Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier and Linda Chavez
A Book of Life is also presented to each celebrity. This book contains a ‘complete as possible’ family tree together with results from genetic testing as well as family documents and photos that have been discovered during production of the show. There are also correlations made between the celebrities stories and research that has been carried to back up whether they are fact or just fiction.
Everyday people are also featured on the show besides celebrities. These people from everyday walks of life have their background and ethnicity explored to help show whether there are any truth to the celebrities stories.
The second season carried on much like the previous. Its stars included Stephen King, Ben Affleck, Deepak Chopra, Tina Fey, Jessica Alba and many more. Due to controversial information surfacing regarding Ben Affleck’s ancestry the following third season was for more than a year. The third season was postponed as it was made aware that Ben had tried to persuade Gates to omit the fact that he had slave-owning ancestors.
Season 2: Stephen King, Gloria Reuben and Courtney B. Vance; Derek Jeter, Billie Jean King and Rebecca Lobo; Ken Burns, Anderson Cooper and Anna Deavere Smith; Ben Affleck, Khandi Alexander and Benjamin Jealous; Tom Colicchio, Aaron Sanchez and Ming Tsai; Angela Bassett, Valerie Jarrett and Nas; Alan Dershowitz, Carole King and Tony Kushner; Deepak Chopra, Sally Field and Sting; Tina Fey, George Stephanopoulos and David Sedaris; Jessica Alba and Governor Deval Patrick
The third season continued in January 2016 and starred notable stars such as Jimmy Kimmel, Richard Branson, Patricia Arquette, Sean Combs, Neil Patrick Harris, Mia Farrow and Dustin Hoffman. Due to the popularity of the show it has been renewed for a fourth season.
Season 3: Donna Brazile, Kara Walker and Ty Burrell; Soledad O’Brien, Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher; Maya Rudolph, Shonda Rhimes and Keenen Ivory Wayans; Jimmy Kimmel, Normal Lear and Bill Hader; Richard Branson, Maya Lin and Frank Gehry; Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore and John McCain; Sean Combs and LL Cool J; Neil Patrick Harris, Gloria Steinem and Sandra Cisneros; Azar Nafisi, Lidia Bastianich and Julianna Margulies; Mia Farrow and Dustin Hoffman
I have only presented here two of the more popular genealogy shows that have broadcasted on our TV screens and that are available on DVD. If you do feel that I should include a show that has not featured here then please feel free to comment below. I would only be too glad to add it to this post.
These shows have not only brought the world of genealogy into our homes but it has also increased the popularity of this pastime. Both Americans and the British have seen a sharp increase in the interest of people discovering their ancestry.
Genealogy for me as been fascinating and interesting. Not only have I been able to sharpen mind, using my deductive reasoning, but also I have found out so much about my family history. I have discovered who my ancestors were, where they once lived and also what they did for a living. Along the way I have made connections with distant cousins I did not know existed and have shared with them plenty of family stories.
If you are interested in this hobby then I would recommend that you take a look at these shows. They have not only inspired me to trace my roots, but also many people all over the world.
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