Two celebrities go on another DNA Journey

Tuesday: DNA Journey; (ITV, 9pm)

Nobody expected Who Do You Think You Are? to become such a massive success.

The idea of watching celebrities research their ancestry sounds like a decent idea, and the BBC maybe expected it to run for a couple of series before they began struggling to either find anybody willing to take part, or anybody with fascinating relatives.

However, we’ve now enjoyed 18 series since 2004, with the level of participants as impressive as ever. What’s more, the format has been sold around the world.

Shaun Wallace and Anne Hegarty

So no wonder that ITV has been trying to find its own equivalent for some time while looking on in envy at the BBC as it dishes up fascinating facts about the families of, say, Judi Dench, Jodie Whittaker, Kate Winslet or Daniel Radcliffe.

Although DNA Journey hasn’t quite reached the same heights, it’s proved to be a welcome distraction for history-lovers as they await the next run of the Beeb’s genealogy juggernaut. Each episode sees two celebs – who could be friends or family members – investigating their ancestors, with Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, aka Ant & Dec, getting the ball rolling in 2019.

Since then the likes of ex-sporting stars and A League of Their Own colleagues Jamie Redknapp and Andrew Flintoff, as well as pals Alan Carr and Amanda Holden, have taken part.

Now the show is returning for a new run, which its makers promise is going to keep us both entertained and educated over the coming weeks.

“DNA Journey is an enthralling combination of heart-warming, emotional and high octane all at the same time, and it’s great to welcome some of TV’s favourite faces onto the show to delve deeper into their family histories and secrets,” says ITV’s head of entertainment commissioning Katie Rawcliffe.

Her colleague Louise Major adds: “Everyone has a desire to learn more about where they come from and to be able to share this personal experience with some of our favourite faces is so special and a real treat in the mid-week schedule.”

The series has actually been split in two, with three episodes airing now, and the remaining four in the autumn.

Later in the year we’ll see comedians and best buddies Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan, Gavin and Stacey stars Alison Steadman and Larry Lamb, friends Joel Dommett and Tom Allen, and TV presenters Alison Hammond and Kate Garraway delving into the past.

Before then, ice dance legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, and actors Maureen Lipman and Rula Lenska take part. But getting the ball rolling are The Chase colleagues Anne Hegerty and Shaun Wallace.

The duo are stunned by some of the information they unearth – the road trip they undertake is certainly one they’ll never forget. Expect a few tear-jerking moments along the way as they come face-to-face with relations they never knew existed.

“It’s always a treat to see our celebrity pairings as you’ve never seen them before,” claims executive producer Kathleen Larkin. “In this series, they face particularly emotional revelations… which always end with an uplifting resolution that warms the heart.”

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