Who Do You Think You Are?

The Daily Telegraph - - Television & Radio -


This week’s edi­tion of the ge­neal­ogy show ini­tially threat­ens to be one of those pleas­ant enough hours with no real sur­prises. The sub­ject is TV pre­sen­ter Emma Wil­lis, a proud Birm­ing­ham girl and the prod­uct of a close-knit, work­ing-class back­ground who ex­plains that she has come from “a kind fam­ily” and hopes pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions will turn out to have been sim­i­lar.

Ini­tially it seems as though those dreams will come true with an in­ter­est­ing but hardly ground-break­ing trawl through gen­er­a­tions of hard-work­ing Brum­mie grafters who lurched from pros­per­ity to the work­house and back again, but ap­pear to have stuck to­gether through good times and bad. “When I look at that pic­ture I think of Peaky Blin­ders,” Wil­lis says early on about a fam­ily snap­shot, but the re­al­ity is less crim­i­nal and more en­ter­prise. Things take a more in­ter­est­ing, and al­to­gether darker turn, how­ever, once she heads across the sea to Ire­land for a tale of vi­o­lence, abuse of power and ul­ti­mately love, which un­cov­ers a true work­ing-class hero in the process. “We all want to have a nice story, right?” notes the like­able Wil­lis. Her plea­sure when she fi­nally finds one is in­fec­tious. Sarah Hughes

Go­ing back to her roots: Emma Wil­lis un­cov­ers her fam­ily past

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