Map­ping the past

Mak­ing peace with your past can in­form your fu­ture, as Ge­of­frey Rush, Adam Goodes and other stars have dis­cov­ered on WhoDoYouThinkYouAre?. HOLLY BYRNES re­vis­its some mem­o­rable rev­e­la­tions

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

IN an age when most celebri­ties hire an army of foot sol­diers to keep se­crets from pry­ing eyes, it’s a leap of faith to al­low cam­eras and a team of re­searchers to probe their fam­ily his­to­ries for scan­dal and skele­tons.

For Os­car-win­ner Ge­of­frey Rush, who fol­lows his blood­lines back seven gen­er­a­tions in the latest se­ries of Who Do You Think You Are? it was like be­ing a part of his own big-screen thriller. En­cour­aged by act­ing “mates” in­clud­ing Magda Szuban­ski and Richard Roxburgh, who have CO­ME­DIAN Szuban­ski (right) has long known the value of laugh­ter. But her sea­son three history search ex­posed pain and unimag­in­able tragedy. On her mother’s side, she fol­lowed the tra­vails of grand­fa­ther Luke McCarthy to his birthplace in Ire­land. Al­ways be­liev­ing he had ties to the IRA, Szuban­ski in­stead dis­cov­ered the tragic re­al­ity of his early life – los­ing his fa­ther and 10 sib­lings be­fore the age of 16. Through tears, Szuban­ski tells one his­to­rian: “I knew I’d be cry­ing, I didn’t know I’d be cry­ing so soon.” It was in the con­text of such over­whelm­ing grief and the ex­treme poverty that ge­neal­o­gists then re­vealed his prison history (for lar­ceny and other petty crimes). Out of jail as World War I gripped Europe, McCarthy was sent to Paschen­dale. The re­sult­ing shell shock plagued him for the rest of his days. pre­vi­ously fea­tured on the award-win­ning se­ries, Rush rel­ished piec­ing to­gether his past.

“Mine be­came more of a de­tec­tive, mys­tery thriller... how does it all turn out? For peo­ple like Magda [Szuban­ski] and Susie [Porter], I re­mem­ber, they were deeply emo­tional and trau­matic melo­dra­mas, where they dis­cov­ered very painful, yet fas­ci­nat­ing things,” Rush says.

He knew some de­tails of his pa­ter­nal side, traced back to feisty early set­tler John Thomas Rush, who fought for con­vict rights. But his ma­ter­nal an­ces­try HE stands proud to­day as a role model for his in­dige­nous com­mu­nity, but Goodes (right) has not al­ways had that con­nec­tion to his Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture. In 2013, the Syd­ney Swans star learnt where his blood ties be­gan. His fam­ily story was a mys­tery for many years be­cause his mother, Lisa, was taken from her birth par­ents as a child. In the first of many ten­der mo­ments be­tween “mumma” and son, Goodes looks to this ex­pe­ri­ence to help her heal and pro­vide an­swers about their an­ces­try. The search takes them to Ade­laide, re­veal­ing Goodes’ links back to a pow­er­ful white min­ing mag­nate, Wal­ter Wat­son Hughes, who fa­thered his great grand­fa­ther; a half-caste child raised be­tween worlds with the help of another Abo­rig­i­nal el­der, ‘King’ Tom (known to his Narungga peo­ple as Garadi). Goodes also re­turns to Ad­nya­math­anha land, where he is once again ini­ti­ated back into the an­cient ways of the tribe dur­ing a face paint­ing cer­e­mony. THOMPSON’S past is as dra­matic as the roles he has played. The search for his fam­ily history has been life-long for the ac­tor born John Hadley Pain (be­low). He was adopted aged 10 by the fam­ily of his school pal, Peter Thompson (af­ter the death of his mother four years ear­lier). Thompson’s stun­ning an­ces­tral dis­cov­er­ies date back to his great, great, great grand­fa­ther Pa­trick Byrnes, who re­built his life in Aus­tralia af­ter be­ing trans­ported as a con­vict from Ire­land in 1836. He be­came a saw miller, tim­ber cut­ter and surveyor’s as­sis­tant, with Thompson vis­it­ing his bush grave near Bowrav­ille, on the NSW mid-north coast. Two twists to the story: be­fore learn­ing of his fam­ily history, Thompson has bought a farm in the area, bor­der­ing on the prop­erty owned by Pa­trick Byrnes; who also hap­pens to be this scribe’s great, great, great grand­fa­ther. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? TUES­DAY, 7.30PM, SBS led him to Ger­many and, un­ex­pect­edly, the royal court of Den­mark. There he found his great grand­fa­ther seven times re­moved was mu­si­cian Jo­hann Willms, who was forced to beg the King for the ap­proval to earn his liv­ing play­ing for a lo­cal count.

The se­ries has pro­vided sim­i­lar sur­prises for other stars and com­pelling TV for the show’s de­voted fans.

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