Thursday, 23 August 2012

Who Do You Think You Are - Greg Wallace

Last night's edition of Who Do You Think You Are was a considerable improvement on the opening episode. It featured Greg Wallace, who presents a BBC based cookery competition show, but had everything last week's story didn't - an interested subject, an interesting story, a dash of humour and for this viewer, some familiar terrain!

*There's a few spoilers following if you have yet to see it*

The story essentially looked at what happened to Greg's great grandfather Henry and great great grandmother Selena, and showed only too well how possible it is to jump to conclusions about people when you don't have the full facts - and with every new fact, there was a lot of constant re-evaluation, something family historians are only too well aware of. A ridiculously oversized portrait of Selena accompanied him on his travels - even being seat-belted in on one trip! (Good advert for the camera abilities of an iPhone!).

What made this work as a programme was that nothing was quite as it seemed - not even the photograph of Selena - making the story one that gripped throughout. The opening was a bit stage-managed and felt a bit flat, but trust me, if you have yet to view it, just bear with it, all will soon click into place!

For me personally, there was lots of indirect familiarity with the subjects featured - discussions of submarine warfare (my father was a submariner), connections to the port of Larne in Northern Ireland (where I was born), a tragedy in Glynn (where I drove through just over a week ago!), life in an asylum (one of my lot ended his days in one), and even a Zion Methodist church (I attended one in Plymouth for 2 years as a kid - have never heard of any others since then!). The visual landscape was therefore very comfortable territory to watch.

Were there any major faults with the presentation? Not with the programme as such - but the schedulers certainly need some re-education. Apart from the fact that one featured story was very similar indeed to a story featured in last week's edition (except this time, you really feel the tragedy as a viewer), there is also the simple fact that this was ten times better as a programme. Why last week's was considered strong enough to be a series opener, still defies me - thankfully though, it does not seem as if it set the standard for the series ahead by the looks of it.

Next week - Patrick Stewart. They made it so! Hoping they do a DNA test and show that he has the power to lead a race of mutants in the fight against evil. Fingers crossed...! :)


Check out my Scotland's Greatest Story research service
New book: It's Perthshire 1866 - there's been a murder... (from June 12th 2012)

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