Sue Perkins has a family history worthy of Hollywood

The Sue Perkins episode of Who do you Think You Are? (BBC One), the first of the 19th run of the series, had such a perfect arc that it felt like a script. In the beginning Perkins joked that it would be great if she rediscovered her roots in Lithuania as that would be a match with her amazing British bake-off partner and best friend Mel Giedroyc. And guess what?

The show also began with Perkins in the boxing ring — the only activity, she said, that gives her a sense of peace. And at the end of the episode, when she entered the little Lithuanian church that was the only building from her family’s past that’s still standing, she found that it had been converted into… a boxing gym. Perkins was amazed: “The universe could not have planned this better. Everything always closes, but not as poetically as here.”

Perkins deserved a happy ending because, besides, her family history had been tough. An encounter with a genealogist in Bodmin was almost darkly funny. Perkins discovered that her grandfather lost his mother when he was only six months old, but records showed that his father soon remarried.

Perkins: “Suddenly everything is a little rosier!”

Genealogist: “Well…”

Perkins: “Oh, no.”

Genealogist: “His father died of tuberculosis.”

Perkins: “He’s in the care of – we hope – his stepmother now.”

Genealogist: “Um, can I stop you there…”

Perkins: “Oh, no.”

Genealogist: “Unfortunately, the stepmother has already died.”

Perkins: That’s Dickens stuff, isn’t it?

But despite the tragedy, this was ultimately a story of triumph, of overcoming life’s obstacles and moving forward through sheer hard work. Both sides of Perkins’ family had an enormous drive, born in part from a need to keep moving: away from the workhouse, poverty, hostility toward their neighbors. Her German-born great-grandfather was a tailor in London but was interned in Knockaloe on the Isle of Man during the First World War.

Some who do you think you are? Themes are more articulate than others. Perkins never stopped talking, and it was clear that she had examined herself thoroughly well before the show began. Her story also made you think: How much of our personality is shaped by previous generations?

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/tv/0/do-think-review-sue-perkins-has-family-history-worthy-hollywood/ Sue Perkins has a family history worthy of Hollywood


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