The BEST episodes of Who Do You Think You Are?

Every episode of Who Do You Think You Are? ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Who Do You Think You Are?!

Well known faces within the British media each embark on individual journeys to answer some questions in regards to their own family history.

Last Updated: 7/1/2024Network: BBC OneStatus: Continuing
Share:
Boris Johnson
star
9.89
35 votes

#1 - Boris Johnson

Season 5 - Episode 2 - Aired 8/21/2008

Boris Johnson knew a certain amount about his diverse family background, but was intrigued by several family stories and mysteries. He was particularly keen to investigate stories associated with the relatives of his paternal grandparents. Boris's grandfather, Wilfred Johnson, had never spoken about the murder of his Turkish father in the 1920s. Boris’s grandmother Irene Johnson (née Williams), known as 'Granny Butter', had always been the subject of derision in the family due to her grandiose claims of an aristocratic French background. So Boris set out on an international journey of discovery to separate fact from fiction.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Len Goodman
star
9.82
33 votes

#2 - Len Goodman

Season 8 - Episode 9 - Aired 10/5/2011

Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman investigates his mother's family.

Directors: Michael Wadding
Watch Now:Amazon
Alex Kingston
star
9.14
7 votes

#3 - Alex Kingston

Season 9 - Episode 6 - Aired 9/19/2012

Actress Alex Kingston knows that her great-grandfather, William Keevil, died during the First World War, leaving behind a wife and young family - including Alex's then 4-year-old grandmother. Alex sets out to investigate exactly what happened to William, and discovers how his pre-war career as a photographer put him in an unusual position. Alex has also heard rumours of Jewish ancestry in her family tree. Her quest to discover if this is true takes an unexpected turn, leading to a story involving her four-times great-grandmother, Elizabeth Braham, another widow with young children. As Alex delves further into Elizabeth's life, she is astonished to discover the unconventional enterprise Elizabeth undertook to avoid sliding into poverty.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Ruby Wax
star
9.00
51 votes

#4 - Ruby Wax

Season 14 - Episode 10 - Aired 10/4/2017

Ruby Wax's Jewish parents fled Vienna and the Nazis for America in 1938. 'They took the war with them and brought it to our kitchen,' says the comedian and mental-health campaigner at the start of this remarkable episode. They raised their only daughter in a dramatically dysfunctional household - Ruby's father was volatile and her mother 'hysterical... screaming in the street.' Ruby wonders if her own mental illness had its origins in her upbringing and the trauma her parents went through, or whether it is in her family's genes. Ruby journeys to central Europe, where she learns about her parents' flight and the distressing fate of family who remained in Vienna during the war, and she makes a startling discovery about her great-aunt and great-grandmother, which is both harrowing and surprisingly affirming.

Watch Now:Amazon
Kim Cattrall
star
9.00
4 votes

#5 - Kim Cattrall

Season 6 - Episode 10 - Aired 8/12/2009

Liverpool-born Kim Cattrall sets out to solve a family mystery that has endured for more than seventy years, the disappearance of her grandfather.

Kate Humble
star
9.00
6 votes

#6 - Kate Humble

Season 6 - Episode 8 - Aired 7/29/2009

TV presenter Kate Humble knows little about her family history. What she does know is that her paternal grandfather was a test pilot, and she believes her maternal grandfather ended up in Colditz. On the trail of her grandfather Bill Humble, who was a test pilot during the Second World War, Kate visits the RAF Museum. She is astonished to discover what a legend Bill was in flying circles, and is amazed to see his daredevil flying for herself in archive film held there.

Watch Now:Amazon
Ainsley Harriott
star
8.89
35 votes

#7 - Ainsley Harriott

Season 5 - Episode 5 - Aired 9/10/2008

Ainsley Harriott heads to the West Indies and discovers that Caribbean history isn't quite as 'black and white' as he'd imagined. In addition to harrowing stories of slavery, Ainsley discovers his ancestors include a soldier, a policemen, wealthy 'free blacks' and even white plantation owners.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Martin Freeman
star
8.83
6 votes

#8 - Martin Freeman

Season 6 - Episode 11 - Aired 8/19/2009

With his dad having died when he was 10 and his parents having divorced some years before, Martin Freeman tries to find out the paternal side of his family history.

Watch Now:Amazon
Mark Wright
star
8.82
11 votes

#9 - Mark Wright

Season 16 - Episode 8 - Aired 9/11/2019

Intrigued by family stories from his granddad Eddie, former TOWIE star and presenter Mark Wright investigates his dad’s side of the family. Discovering Sephardi Jewish ancestry and a master swordsman living in late 17th-century Andalucía, Mark’s journey takes him to Spain where he’s astonished to finds out how his nine-times great-grandfather survived the terror of the Spanish Inquisition, while a less fortunate relative was burned at the stake.

Watch Now:Amazon
Patsy Kensit
star
8.75
40 votes

#10 - Patsy Kensit

Season 5 - Episode 1 - Aired 8/14/2008

Patsy's late father was a villain. Jimmy Kensit was deeply involved with the most notorious gangsters of 1960s London: the Krays and the Richardsons. Reggie Kray was even godfather to Patsy's brother. Apprehensively, Patsy embarked on an investigation into her father's murky past, to understand the roots of his criminality and to discover how far back 'the family trade' goes. Patsy met up with a criminologist who had unearthed a copy of her father’s criminal record, revealing the true extent of his crimes. She was then shocked to uncover documents in the National Archives that show her grandfather was also a prolific criminal. After more research, Patsy was at last relieved to discover that her great-grandfather, though impoverished, was an honest walking stick maker. Tracing her roots even further back, an amazing document in Goldsmith's Hall revealed how the Kensit family, once affluent artisans, first fell into terrible poverty. Ultimately Patsy made the emotional discovery that rather than descending from a long line of villains, one of her ancestors was a remarkable vicar who dedicated his life to helping the poor.

Watch Now:Apple TV
Paul Merton
star
8.73
11 votes

#11 - Paul Merton

Season 16 - Episode 6 - Aired 8/28/2019

Comedian Paul Merton was very close to his late mum, and he knows that her Irish parents died when she was very young. Her father was a shadowy figure said to have been lost at sea. Paul pieces together his grandfather’s story and discovers that he was involved in some of the key events leading to Irish independence in the 1920s, and that the true circumstances of his death were different from the story that has been handed down. In London, on his father’s side, Paul traces a great-great-grandmother who was sent to prison for her part in an assault... involving a banjo.

Watch Now:Amazon
Amanda Redman
star
8.60
42 votes

#12 - Amanda Redman

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/19/2004

Actress Amanda Redman explores her roots.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Frank Gardner
star
8.56
16 votes

#13 - Frank Gardner

Season 12 - Episode 7 - Aired 9/24/2015

Journalist Frank Gardner was very close to his late mother and is keen to know more about her side of the family. Frank's mother always told him that the family arrived in Britain with the Normans. Frank sets off to discover if there is any truth in the rumour. Along the way, he traces his family tree back to his ten times great-grandfather Sir Michael Stanhope - a knight of the Tudor court - who was accused of treason. But Frank's journey doesn't end there, and he is astonished to discover that his mother's suspicions are closer to the truth than he could ever have imagined.

Watch Now:Amazon
Stephen Fry
star
8.51
69 votes

#14 - Stephen Fry

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 1/25/2006

An emotional journey as Stephen investigates his European Jewish roots.

Watch Now:Amazon
Larry Lamb
star
8.50
122 votes

#15 - Larry Lamb

Season 8 - Episode 4 - Aired 8/31/2011

Actor Larry Lamb sets out to learn about his biological grandparents.

Directors: Leo Burley
Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Hugh Quarshie
star
8.50
4 votes

#16 - Hugh Quarshie

Season 7 - Episode 8 - Aired 9/6/2010

Holby City actor Hugh Quarshie was born in Ghana, but moved to Britain with his parents as a child. He knows there is Dutch ancestry in his family, but doesn't know where the bloodline began. To find out, he visits his uncle in Ghana, where he discovers a new relative and learns some interesting facts about his mother. Finally, he travels to the Netherlands to unravel the truth.

Ralf Little
star
8.50
4 votes

#17 - Ralf Little

Season 19 - Episode 5 - Aired 6/30/2022

Ralf Little heads to Orkney to investigate his grandfather Arthur’s role in one of the most important battles of the Second World War. He also finds an international footballer in the family.

Watch Now:Amazon
Sue Johnston
star
8.48
42 votes

#18 - Sue Johnston

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/26/2004

Actress Sue Johnston explores her roots.

Watch Now:AmazonApple TV
Ruth Jones
star
8.44
9 votes

#19 - Ruth Jones

Season 17 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/26/2020

Actor and writer Ruth Jones - Nessa from Gavin and Stacey - investigates her Welsh family’s history. On her mum’s side, she discovers that her great-great-great-grandfather was a mariner who rose to the rank of captain in the domestic coastal trade. His son surpassed his father by carrying Welsh coal across the world. On Ruth’s dad’s side, she looks into the career of the grandfather she never met. Henry Richard Jones was a leading light in the Medical Aid Societies of south Wales, which provided a model for the National Health Service in 1948.

Watch Now:Amazon
Katherine Ryan
star
8.44
16 votes

#20 - Katherine Ryan

Season 16 - Episode 5 - Aired 8/19/2019

Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan’s investigation of her family history leads her to a Methodist minister and his family in colonial Nova Scotia, cod traders in Newfoundland, and eventually to her English roots in Dorset.

Watch Now:Amazon
Emilia Fox
star
8.43
65 votes

#21 - Emilia Fox

Season 8 - Episode 5 - Aired 9/7/2011

Silent Witness star Emilia Fox tries to find out how far back her family's acting roots go.

Directors: Leo Burley
Watch Now:Apple TV
Anita Rani
star
8.42
12 votes

#22 - Anita Rani

Season 12 - Episode 8 - Aired 10/1/2015

Journalist Anita Rani never met her maternal grandfather Sant Singh - all she has been told is that he suffered terrible tragedy at the time of India's Partition. Anita's mother also tells her that Sant had another wife and family before marrying Anita's grandmother. Armed with this knowledge, Anita travels to India to see if she can find out more about her grandfather's first family - and discover what happened to them during Partition. It's an extraordinary and harrowing journey for Anita.

Watch Now:Amazon
Marianne Faithfull
star
8.38
8 votes

#23 - Marianne Faithfull

Season 10 - Episode 9 - Aired 9/18/2013

Singer and '60s pop icon Marianne Faithfull had a difficult relationship with her mother, Eva. In this film Marianne investigates Eva's earlier life, as a dancer in 1920s Berlin- the era immortalised in the film Cabaret. Marianne also discovers her half-Jewish mother's precarious existence in Vienna during World War Two and investigates whether there is any truth in the rumour that the family was involved with the Austrian Resistance.

Mark Gatiss
star
8.35
20 votes

#24 - Mark Gatiss

Season 12 - Episode 9 - Aired 10/8/2015

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss has always had a love of storytelling and a passion for the ghastly and ghoulish but has always wondered where it comes from. So when he discovers that his mother's side of the family goes back five generations to the wilds of Northern Ireland, his imagination is awakened. Mark travels to Ireland, where he untangles a tale of rags to riches and finds out that his family were storytellers and (allegedly) vampire slayers!

Davina McCall
star
8.25
4 votes

#25 - Davina McCall

Season 6 - Episode 6 - Aired 7/15/2009

Davina McCall makes some intriguing and shocking discoveries as she delves into her family's past, hoping to learn more about her maternal French heritage.

Watch Now:Apple TV