Family History and the Media

Nick Barrett, our guest speaker March 6th, is an English Genealogist Consultant at the University of London. He explained that he wanted to take us behind the scenes of the tv programme ‘ Who Do You Think You Are. ‘  Nick has been involved with programme since its inception in 2005.The idea was to present a look at the social and family history from the perspective of ordinary people’s lives and not from an academics point of view.

Working initially at the Public Record Office in London,  Nick was affected by the enthusiasm of family researchers and their stories.  He recounted how he eventually became involved with the tv programme and how, along with others,  wanted to capture the interest of viewers through the life stories of celebrities who it was thought would make the programme interesting and entertaining. Nick quoted from a sample of well known figures such as Lesley Garrett, Jeremy Clarkson,  Jeremy Paxton, Bill Oddy and Ian Hislop . There was family tragedy, a potential murder, a case of extreme poverty,  infidelity and of a narrowescape from some armed conflict.  Each participant had to agree to certain conditions which included not to see the programmer’s script, not to get in touch with other relatives and not to be involved with the editing procedure.  Nick concluded a very entertaining and informative meeting by warning us not to rely on storing our family histories digitally but to ensure we keep hard copies too.

Our next meeting is April 3rd when Anne Fletcher’s talk is ‘From the Mill to Monte Carlo. ‘