Is there a musical genius in my genes? Lord Lloyd-Webber’s one of the stars trawling their family trees for the 20th series of Who Do You Think You Are?
Andrew Lloyd Webber feels like a bit of an anomaly in his family.
Although the celebrated composer comes from a musical clan – his father was also a composer and his mother a piano teacher – the creator of Cats, Evita and Phantom Of The Opera has found no evidence among his ancestors of anyone who shares his love of showy musical theatre.
That’s why Lord Lloyd-Webber agreed to dig into his roots for this week’s Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC1’s flagship genealogy show, which is back for its 20th series.
He hopes to find a link between his personality traits and those of his forebears.
‘I love taking on challenges, so there has to be some strong person somewhere around,’ says Andrew, 75.
‘I suppose the thing I’d most like to discover is where on earth my love of musical theatre came from and where the shows I like to write came from.’
What he does discover is an extraordinary lineage that includes a working-class London hero, a chorister at a coronation, posh ancestors and some distant relatives with whom he and his younger brother, the celebrated cellist Julian, have an astonishing amount in common.
Another famous face hoping to flesh out his family tree is Bear Grylls, who wants to learn about the top-secret documents his paternal grandfather, Brigadier Ted Grylls, left behind when he died.
‘He never spoke about the war, but I’d love to know, “What were you doing?”‘ says Bear, 48, adding, ‘My mum’s always wanted me to do this show. I think she’s hoping I find we’re related to royalty.’
Bear and his mum are in for a surprise when he travels to Scotland.
Also peering into her history is The Crown actress Claire Foy, who gets anxious about uncovering her ancestors’ involvement in a Victorian murder trial.
Strictly legend Kevin Clifton is eager to find out if it’s true he’s descended from Canada’s aboriginal people, while TV doctors and twins Chris and Xand Van Tulleken explore their Dutch ancestry, and DJ Dev Griffin traces the roots of his Irish mum and Jamaican dad.
Comedian Chris Ramsey wonders if the good luck he’s had in his career can be traced back through two world wars and beyond, and actress Lesley Manville finds a poignant story when she learns why her mother’s parents never married.
While some subjects do discover they have royal connections, only Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack can boast links to current royalty – of the pop music variety, at least.
Emily is related to the world’s most famous living pop star: Sir Paul McCartney is her granny’s cousin, and Emily recalls holidays picnicking with Macca.
In her quest, Emily visits his brother Mike, and learns exciting titbits about The Beatles.
Given some of the revelations the show’s given us in the past, don’t be surprised if this series ends in floods of tears and whoops of delight for some of its subjects.
Who Do You Think You Are?, Thursday, 9pm, BBC1.