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Sheridan Smith's episode

Discuss the brand new series of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring the likes of Julie Walters, Brian Blessed and Billy Connolly

Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby Jon Bauckham » Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:32 pm

We're now halfway through the series! What did you make of Sheridan Smith's episode?

As ever, post your thoughts below...
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby isobelc » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:13 am

I'm afraid this one didn't engage me at all. There are some much more interesting stories on the forum pages - maybe they should move away from celebrities and do some ordinary folk for a change.
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby phsvm » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:58 am

I really enjoyed this one. Having never heard of Sheridan Smith I went into this one with no expectations or pre-conceived ideas.

Her obvious enthusiasm was a breath of fresh air and her genuine distress at learning of her ancestor's ups and downs was moving. Although it only looked at one aspect of her family history it encompassed many members of the Doubleday family and made a good case for 'nature or nurture'. The rise in the popularity of the banjo was also fascinating.

After last week's 'heavy' episode this one was a light relief and just goes to show how different and diverse families can be.
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby KayFarndon » Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:26 am

Given that it followed the new format of looking at one particular ancestor, I thought this was a brilliant programme. So full of interesting information and Sheridan Smith was genuinely taken aback by what the researchers found. Extremely entertaining and a very fast hour!
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby alanj001 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:28 am

Strange how viewers react so differently to each episode, I'm one of those that really enjoyed this one. Also nice to see the story end back with Sheridans parents where I'm sure the session went on much longer after the cameras had stopped recording.
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:09 pm

Yes, it is interesting to see the different reactions.

My husband and I, who have followed the programme since the first episode, and are keen genealogists, tend to prefer the more multi-person multi-generational approach. That said, we loved last week's programme, where we saw a measured and balanced approach to a tragedy.

However, I am afraid we really thought this episode was dire. We got a disproportionate amount of time spent with Sheridan Smith and her parents singing in the club, and Sheridan Smith going to a modern instrument shop and learning to play the banjo.

There was a loose end of Benjamin's wife being in Birmingham, with the son who was Sheridan's direct line ancestor, but nothing about what was going on there, or how she was earning a living. We saw Benjamin's Birth Certificate so fast, that we don't think we saw anything about his parents, or his father's occupation, which would have given insight into them being in the Workhouse. There was no analysis about the apparently gob-smacking point that Benjamin was not convicted of Arson! We saw nothing of the Censuses, which might have further informed the story. The meat of the story was not without interest, but it felt as though a 30 minute programme was stripped of some of the relevant points, to make way for showbiz padding.

As another review said above, this really failed to engage. Sorry.
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby Tabithabenef » Fri Sep 05, 2014 12:50 pm

I so agree with the previous posting (Brummie on Exmoor) it was a mirror image of my feelings

I loved last week’s & Brian Blessed and most of Julie Waters.

I do dislike the one person only format

Why did they fudge over who Benjamin’s parents were & why he was born in the workhouse?
That’s the sort of interesting info i want to know about & what about her direct line ancestor his son.

Why not just make a short statement .

I enjoyed the bit with her & her parents on stage but did not need to see it twice & we didn’t need a banjo lesson.
Far too much fawning over her really they could have used some of the time to answer what happened. What did the son do & what happened to the two sisters after the father died.
I did like her family very genuine

I know I fell asleep during the programme (1st time ever in all these years) – so apologies if it was said then
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby 2012girl » Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:39 pm

I don't mind the episodes focusing on one ancestor, as long as the ancestor is interesting, which I thought Benjamin Doubleday was. I also though Sheridan and her family seemed very down to earth and genuinely interested in their ancestors.

However, sometimes it feels like the ice cream making and banjo lessons are unnecessary padding, put in to fill up time and in this instance there was no need for that and certainly not at the expense of important details to the story.

The time spent watching Sheridan with her banjo and singing in the club could have been spent explaining why Benjamin was found not guilty (rather glossed over I thought) and what Sarah Jane was doing in Birmingham. Especially as William, her direct ancestor, was with his mother at that point.

I looked at the the report where Benjamin was found not guilty and it doesn't really give too much extra information. His insurance policy had actually lapsed but he had been informed there was an extra 15 days grace and it was during that time the second fire took place. They seem to have made a case that he had fallen asleep with a cigar and set fire to the bed, however it was also reported that the gas was turned on all over the house and there was also a fire which seemed to have been deliberately lit in a second room. The defence also state that as there was not much of value left in the house there wasn't much to defraud the insurance company of. It sounds rather like he was given the benefit of the doubt.

I paused the episode when it was discussing Sarah Jane living in Birmingham and it looks like she was living with a John Brown and was listed as his wife. Why leave this information out? A brief mention of it would suffice. A bit less superfluous fluff and a few more details please
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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby ColinB » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:23 pm

I enjoyed this episode and warmed to Sheridan Smith and her family. However I was frustrated by the failure to explore further , particularly the birth in the Workhouse which I wanted to know more about. I hope these programs focusing on one individual will be balanced with others taking a broader approach . I really hope we aren't treated to too much cake making with Mary Berry !

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Re: Sheridan Smith's episode

Postby coopernicola » Fri Sep 05, 2014 6:49 pm

I agree with ColinB, Sheridan Smith proved to be an interested & interesting subject but more could have been made of the family circumstances surrounding Benjamin's birth (perhaps there were complications and it was the workhouse infirmary?) and then the split of the family following the fires. This would have been more interesting in a WDYTYA episode than the time spent in the music store and the Top Club.
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