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Alexander Armstrong

Discuss last year's series of Who Do You Think You Are?, which featured Bruce Forsyth, Dervla Kirwan, Monty Don and six more famous faces as they traced their family trees

Alexander Armstrong

Postby mattelton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:13 pm

The actor and comedian uncovers connections to some high-profile figures in tonight's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?. Come back here after the programme airs to share your thoughts with other readers...
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby ksouthall » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:59 pm

I saw a trailer for this episode yesterday and it looks like there are some skeletons in the cupboard - something about an ancestor being put on trial for the murder of another ancestor.

It definitely looks like one to watch.
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby Wharfrat » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:41 pm

Looks like Alexander is my distant cousin with a common ancestor in Henry Somerset 2nd Earl of Worcester...!
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby lilly » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:07 pm

As we saw tonight, Alexander Armstrongs family went back to William the Conqueror but last week we saw that so did Mathew Pinsent's does that mean they are distantly related Lol mind you Mathew's went on and on and right back to god so why didnt Alexanders if the lineage from William the conqueror lead Mathew to that point? Hmmm
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby pentre » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:41 pm

Alexander Armstrong proved to me tonight that the rich really do think differently from the rest of us. He seemed incensed that his ggg(?)uncle had left his estate to his illegitimate daughters instead of to his already wealthy brother (Armstrong's ancestor). At this point I was cheering for his uncle - what a brave man to break with convention in order to provide for his children, who would otherwise probably have fallen into deep poverty. But Armstrong's reaction was that the uncle was something of a cad (or whatever word he used). Just because the rich had traditionally retained power and privilege by passing on their wealth intact to the next legitimate male doesn't mean it was RIGHT or MORAL. Armstrong's lot seem to have done OK without the extra pile.

Personally I'd much rather have seen a programme about how the illegitimate daughters fared. Their story would be really interesting.
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby Jeeps » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:40 am

Wharfrat wrote:Looks like Alexander is my distant cousin with a common ancestor in Henry Somerset 2nd Earl of Worcester...!


Me too! William the Conqueror is supposed to be my 26 x gt. grandfather. Along with countless other people I should imagine. :D

I thought Alexander Armstrong was very easy to watch but I felt the programme lacked substance. I can't really put my finger on it but it was more like a history prog - don't get me wrong, I love history progs - but I would have liked to see genealogical content that was more relevant to most people today. When you start getting back to the Earls and Dukes of the 15C and before, they are pretty well documented; it's the more recent histories of families that can be trickier to unravel.
~~Jeeps~~
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby Emmeline » Tue Aug 24, 2010 4:58 pm

Although I did enjoy last night's programme, I'm finding this whole series rather samey. With the exception of Dervla Kirwan (who had a famous relative) and Bruce Forsyth, the others have all been "privileged" with moneyed ancestors who all had well-documented lives which obviously makes the search that much easier.

I prefer the stories where "ordinary" families are researched - census returns are looked at and birth/marriage certificates throw up puzzles which need solving. This series seems to be looking at the more sensational and not so much about the more humble.

That said, Alexander Armstrong was very amusing which saved the programme for me.
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby ksouthall » Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:11 pm

I enjoyed last night's programme and agree with pentre; I was also impressed that Edward left his money and land to his illegitimate daughters. He may have done it for the best reasons, not to spite his brother, which is perhaps what Alexander had thought.

It does seem that a lot of this series has been about wealthy ancestors whch is why I enjoyed the Rupert Everett one as it covered some of his poorer ancestors.

I also may or may not be connected to William the Conqueror, but I have hear that about a third of the population is connected to royalty in osme way or another so I don't think I'll be claiming any long lost title.
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby Lizhen » Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:08 pm

Emmeline wrote:Although I did enjoy last night's programme, I'm finding this whole series rather samey. With the exception of Dervla Kirwan (who had a famous relative) and Bruce Forsyth, the others have all been "privileged" with moneyed ancestors who all had well-documented lives which obviously makes the search that much easier.

I prefer the stories where "ordinary" families are researched - census returns are looked at and birth/marriage certificates throw up puzzles which need solving. This series seems to be looking at the more sensational and not so much about the more humble.

That said, Alexander Armstrong was very amusing which saved the programme for me.

I agree with the above except for the last line. I was not amused, I was bored.

Yes, I have also thought this series has been rather samey. For me the Bruce Forsyth and Monty Don episodes were the most interesting. I also love history, but on WDYTYA it is genealogy and the social history that interests me.

My family history is about "ordinary" people, and what a fascinating if time consuming journey it has been. Many twists and turns, surprises, successes, sadnesses. A few family secrets uncovered. Including a bigamous marriage which resulted in a 60 day prison sentence. :o

The consequent ingeniousness of the parents was fascinating concerning how they made sure that the birth of the child of their 'marriage' was registered as legitimate. That solved a family mystery. All most interesting - at least it is to me! :)
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Re: Alexander Armstrong

Postby ksouthall » Wed Aug 25, 2010 11:13 am

Without meaning to appear politically incorrect, many of our celebrities come from families who were perhaps more go-getting and ambitious than us ordinary people's ordinary ancestors, hence the celebrities have had more early opportunities and thus become successful.

Take Alexander Armstrong as an example. He attended Cambridge and was in the Cambridge Footlights, like many of our greatest comedians and actors. Both Oxbridge Universities are elitist in that they only take the brightest students, many of whom attended public schools. The fact that they attended public schools generally means that they came from wealthy backgrounds, unless they were clever enough to have obtained a scholarship. As a result, they are more likely to have had prolific ancestors.

Conversely, Alexander Armstrong's comedic partner Ben Miller attended his local comprehensive school. Ironically, his father is a lecturer and his mother is a teacher, despite their "be a teacher" sketches. His paternal grandfather was a Lithuanian-born tailor who lived in the East End of London. Perhaps Ben Miller could be a future subject of "Who Do You Think You Are?"

A fair few of our celebrities also seem to have had immigrant ancestors; e.g. John Suchet, Stephen Fry, Nigella Lawson, Natasha Kaplinski, etc. Although in many cases their ancestors were escaping persecution in their native countries, many of them were already successful there so had the means to escape. They were also by nature very driven and focused in improving their lot in life, which in most cases continued once they arrived in England.

Perhaps this fits the saying "success breeds success".

The programme makers try to find celebrities with interesting ancestors yet also want people who will be comfortable in front of the camera. How about including some footballers and other sportsmen and women? They are used to be interviewed and may have more down to earth ancestors like the rest of us.
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