DNA technology has leapt forward with frightening speed in recent years, and over the past decade, around 25 million Brits have taken a home test.
It’s no surprise then, that the TV schedules are awash with programmes like Who Do You Think You Are?, DNA Journey and Long Lost Family in which both celebrities and members of the public receive help to look into their genetics for answers about their ancestry.
However, there’s another side to genetic testing, and it’s been particularly helpful to those trying to track down their blood heritage and its implications for their health.
In March last year, Stacey Dooley debuted the BBC Two series DNA Family Secrets, in which she met people across the UK who want to discover a mystery hidden within their genetic code.
“Everyone deserves to know where they really come from,” the host said.
“What secrets could be hidden in your past? Join me as we use DNA to answer life-changing questions about who we really are.”
Working with one of the UK’s leading geneticists, Professor Turi King (the geneticist responsible for identifying the remains of Richard III, no less), as well as top genealogists, social workers and doctors, the team uses advances in DNA technology to help reveal people’s lost ancestry, track down missing relatives and detect debilitating diseases before it’s too late.
The programme proved to be both heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure, none more so than in the final episode in which the likeable and empathetic presenter met mixed-race brothers Peter and David, who were adopted and want to find out more about their biological father.
Indeed, according to experts, about one in 50 people don’t know who their biological father is.
So as Stacey and Turi return with the first of a second six-part series tonight, they help a couple of those people.
They start in Liverpool where they meet 52-year-old Richard, who is on a life-long mission to discover the identity of his dad.
With his mum never revealing the truth about him while she was still alive, Richard has hit a number of dead ends researching on his own.
When Turi and the team test his DNA, they deliver far more than Richard could have possibly expected – and he’s blown away when finally learning the truth. Meanwhile, Glen’s mother never knew where his father was from, only that he wasn’t white. After spending his school years in Oxfordshire feeling like the odd one out, he’s desperate to finally learn his ancestry, and testing his DNA is the only way to finally give him the answers he craves.
Finally, 62-year-old Janet has spent her life wondering if a rumour is true that she might have a secret sister. When her father returned as a British prisoner of war during the Second World War, she had heard that he may have fathered another child while in Austria. She now wants to know if there is a half-sister on the continent looking for her as well.