Olivia Colman to delve into Norfolk history on Who Do You Think You Are?

PUBLISHED: 14:03 29 May 2018 | UPDATED: 14:36 29 May 2018

The Night Manager  - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

The Night Manager - (C) The Ink Factory - Photographer: Mitch Jenkins

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Norfolk-schooled Olivia Colman returns to Norfolk for her appearance on celebrity family tree show Who Do You Think You Are? and discovers a heartbreaking story about a young ancestor. But the real question is: has Danny Dyer bought a ruff yet?

Michelle Keegan. Photographer: Stephen PerryMichelle Keegan. Photographer: Stephen Perry

Genealogy has never really floated my boat and I while I appreciate that the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? is a meticulously researched, worthy bit of television, I think I’ve only ever watched it three or four times: but one of those times was when Danny Dyer appeared, so that makes up for it.

WDYTYA is back on screen for its 15th series and amongst those appearing as the celebrity under the spotlight will be Norfolk’s Olivia Colman, who winningly told producers that she was “the least interesting person I know”.

Believing her family to be almost entirely Norfolk-based, Olivia – who was at sixth form at Gresham’s School in Holt from 1990 to 1992 – discovers that she has Indian heritage.

From gritty dramas to iconic comedies, Olivia has enjoyed huge critical success but despite her hectic schedule, still finds time to return to Norfolk to visit family with her children. Growing up, she lived all over the county but it is north Norfolk which she describes as her “stomping ground” and “spiritual home”.

Actress Olivia Colman with sixth form students Alicia Stark adn Callum Chapman at Gresham's School speech dayActress Olivia Colman with sixth form students Alicia Stark adn Callum Chapman at Gresham's School speech day

Olivia, whose first job was at The King’s Arms in Blakeney, talks wistfully about the idyllic childhood she enjoyed – revising for her A-Levels on Holkham beach or just being able to open the back door and go off the whole day.

“My favourite childhood memory was going crabbing with my family,” she says. “We used to sit on a muddy bridge with a string and a bit of bacon and catch crabs, then do a crab race at the end. It was important just because nobody was working, we were all mucking about, we all got on and we had fun.”

According to research carried out on WDYTYA the mum-of-three’s great-great-great grandmother Harriot was an “orphan” in 1811 whose father had been an Englishman working for the East India Company who married a local girl and had a daughter. But her father died while he was still young and little Harriot was sent to her English grandparents for a “better life”, making the perilous sea journey from Calcutta to England on her own. Her story moves Olivia to tears.

The first episode of the new series will tell the story of Michelle Keegan’s family tree. But what all of us really want to know is whether or not any episode will ever reach the heights of Dyer being told that he is related to Thomas Cromwell and is a direct descendant of King Edward III.

OLIVIA COLMAN as Ellie Miller in Broadchurch (C) ITV PlcOLIVIA COLMAN as Ellie Miller in Broadchurch (C) ITV Plc

“I think I’m gonna treat meself [sic] to a ruff, a massive ruff, just bowl about in my massive ruff,” announced Danny Dyer after the startling revelation in a show where he also insisted on calling historians “babe” and said, after the royal link: “I just have to digest this and get this in my nut and then I can move on with my life.” It was as good as Danny Dyer’s The Real Football Factories. No, really.

* Who Do You Think You Are? returns to BBC1 on June 6 at 9pm.

Danny Dyer on Who Do You Think You Are? (C) BBCDanny Dyer on Who Do You Think You Are? (C) BBC


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