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Bruce Forsyth

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

Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby Lizhen » Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:56 pm

Emmeline wrote:I'm not a great fan of Bruce Forsyth and was half-expecting him to be cracking corny, cheesy jokes every two minutes. However, I thought he came across as charming and courteous to absolutely everyone he met and had a genuine interest in his great-grandfather's story which I thought was fascinating. I really enjoyed this episode and I'm hoping it's a sign of things to come for the rest of the series.


I'm not a fan either but agree with all you said about Bruce Forsyth, we saw another side to him. An excelent start to the series. Fascinating story. I was particularly interested as I have discovered a bigamist in my family!

Must confess I did not enjoy the last series as much as previous ones, so here's hoping this one continues as it started. I'm also delighted that it features nine people instead of six.

I'm not keen on the WDYTYA magazine preview of a series and, like last time, I did not read until after I had watched. But, like some others, I did read about Bruce Forsyth's family research in that newspaper supplement - weak willed!?! It didn't spoil it for me but I like the surprise element so shall be more strong minded in future!
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby gallowaylass » Wed Jul 21, 2010 4:45 pm

A bit of a shame that the whole episode was devoted to just one ancestor but at least they followed him to his death and burial and the thing had a decent structure to it. I wanted to know who exactly Frances Clarke was and where she had come from. I didn't see any US census for her or her death certificate which might have given some clues.
That NY librarian in the grey jumper is just the sort of person I would hope never to come across in my researches. He came across to me as very supercilious. He was clearly underwhelmed by old Brucie LOL
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby dreeny » Wed Jul 21, 2010 6:50 pm

This start to the new series was absolutely fascinating and I rate it among one of the best I have seen, if not "the best". It was a fascinating tale, his Gt.Grandfather taking up the whole hour. If there had been time to branch out on other members I suspect the tale would have been even more intriguing.

Sad ending, I have to confess to "tears in the eye", but what a lovely gesture by Bruce to commission a headstone for his Gt.Grandfather,s resting place.


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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby FamilyHistoryAddict » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:45 pm

I rather like when they concentrate on one ancestor as you feel more involved. You also tend to get more information about the person if there is just one focus. In fact the story left me wanting more as I would like to have known if Joseph's first wife and family knew he had gone off with another woman or did he just spin them a yarn?

Joseph seemed to maintain a good relationship with his first family; but completely disappeared from the lives of his second family after the 1880s.

Actually it was never proved that Joseph was a bigamist because a second marriage certificate was never found. It seems he just 'lived in sin' :shock: with his second wife and the second family were in fact illegitimate.

Yes, Bruce was genuinely interested in his ancestor and despite his double life, it seems a shame that a man such as Joseph who was a brilliant horticultarist should end up in a charity grave without a headstone. Lots of other famous men who have not led saintly personal lives have been commemorated for their career achievements if not the purity of their home lives.

Cheers, FHA
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby Wahian » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:31 pm

I think they should have mentioned after his marriage to Elizabeth, they went to live near Old Trafford, Manchester for some time. Might be a clue to what she and her children are later shown in 1881 being back up there again at Wilmslow, Cheshire. While they were in Belfast, his 10 year old son, Charles Forsyth passed away Feb 10 ,1873. Another son Joseph passed away in Australia in 1923, aged 52.

Bruce's family history cousin might have been able to tell him what happened to his gt/grandad, for on his wife's gravestone in London, it states her husband died in New York in 1906. I get the impression his English family knew what was going on in the US at the time to some extent, but the American side seemed to be being kept in the dark, hence Frances Clarke Johnson claiming to be a widow, and the fabricated story about his dying at sea being handed down, but it also raises the question if either family really knew about the other one and did he manage to keep them a secret from each other right to the end? I think Frances was unaware she'd gone to the US with a married man and must have been a blow to her when he disappeared, or maybe had found out the truth about him.
Last edited by Wahian on Fri Jul 23, 2010 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby FamilyHistoryAddict » Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:36 pm

You pose interesting questions Wahian - I wish we had the answers! Perhaps WDYTYA magazine could follow up on some of these points and give us even more answers! ;)

Cheers, FHA
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby Lizhen » Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:43 pm

I agree with the last two posts. Researchng both the British and American families would be an interesting follow up programme although I doubt if that would happen. Next best thing would be, as suggested, the WDYTYA magazine following this up. Here's hoping! :idea: :?:
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby Wahian » Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:41 am

What has me puzzled is after Bruce finds in the New York Archives Joseph's and Frances's son Joseph born 1886 in New York, by 1901 it appears this Joseph has become Roy A. Johnson, born 1886, New York; listed with his mum in 1900 along with Cecil and Edwina.
Roy A. married 1917 and passed away in Atlanta in 1939. And when Bruce goes to meet his new-found relations, the dear, elderly Helen born 1918, is shown in 1930 as the 12 y/o daughter of Roy Johnson; just as the programme stated introducing her---- Helen was the eldest child of Joseph's first son.
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby ksouthall » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:16 am

It's looking like Joseph Forsyth Johnson may have had three families not two.....

If interested, please check out this section of the forum:-

tracing-great-grandfather-joseph-forsyth-johnson-t5929.html

Perhaps the Editor could help June trace her husband's ancestor by putting her in touch with the programme's researchers?
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Re: Bruce Forsyth

Postby Wahian » Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:36 pm

I see there's a new headstone for Joseph F Johnson in New York; a modest one that reads---You will not be alone while you have family in England and Atlanta.

Two people in the same grave have been added at the bottom of the headstone.
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