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From Annie Lennox and Gregg Wallace to Alex Kingston and Patrick Stewart, join us every week to share your thoughts about the most recent series of WDYTYA?
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Alex Kingston's episode

Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:34 am


Alex Kingston's Who Do You Think You Are? episode will be shown at 9pm tomorrow on BBC One.

The Doctor Who star learns why her great-grandfather's photography skills were so important during the First World War and discovers the shocking truth about her Jewish roots.

As ever, let us know what you thought about the episode by posting in the thread below.

All the best,

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Wed Sep 19, 2012 6:38 pm

You do Alex Kingston a disservice referring to her as the 'Dr Who star'. The short lived part she had in Dr Who is one of only many parts she has played.

I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom she will forever be Dr Elizabeth Corday from the wonderful series ER!

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:27 am

When the programme began and went to WW1, I thought we were in for quite a 'tearful' hour. I am pleased to say it was a very interesting second half and gave a view of how women had to manage when confronted with 'widowhood'.
It was quite clear to anybody who has been researching or transcribing census returns, that when you see 'lodging house keeper' and a list of female occupants as 'dressmaker', 'milliners' etc, there is a good chance it is being used for other means.
Well known historian, Dan Cruickshank's "The Secret history of Georgian London" goes a long way in explaining this particular subject.


Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:06 am

I thought the episode was really great although I would say the fact that there were so many women running their own houses in the same area at this time would clearly have lead to a conclusion of 'disorderly houses'. I think it would be a mistake and dis-service to say that this was the way all widows acted and my great grandmother did not act as such but moved to Wales after her husband died when he was 37.

I was surprised that Alex didn't go to The Huts Cemetery near Ieper (Ypres) where her Keevil ancestor was laid (see the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour database) unless she had been there before or it had been cut out!.

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:38 pm

I really liked this one - it was fun & interesting.

When it first started & we had WW1 AGAIN - my husband & i both said - Oh no! not WW1 again - but it was different and interesting for a change.

I found the 2nd half really good and I really learnt something from the show. I will have to check my family again now and see if i can claim some of this heritage as well. Mine were outside London though.

Would have been interesting to see where her acting roots came from.

All in all thoroughly good viewing & back to the old WDYTYA format - bring on more of these.

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:28 pm

Replying to 'Junkers' post.
She is entirely correct in saying that this was not the case, that all widows, even in the same street, could be running disorderly houses. It would be interesting to look at the other 'heads' of houses in the street, where Alex's relation lived, just to see if there were any other convictions recorded.
To quote a couple of figures from Dan's book. It was estimated by Patrick Colquhoun, Police Magistrate for parts of London, that in 1795, the population of London was one million, 20,000 women were full time and another 30,000 were part time prostitutes, depending on the season.
The owners of the 'disorderly houses were earning £150 per annum, when a full time working man was earning £50.
Police figures for 1861, the time of Elizabeth Braham, show known prostitutes as 7,124 in London, 29,572 nationwide, although the Westminster Review gives figures of between 50,000 & 368,000.
More preferable for some, than the 'workhouse', I suppose.


Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:01 pm

You do Alex Kingston a disservice referring to her as the 'Dr Who star'

Sorry :(

Having spent most of my time at university around Dr Who obsessives, it's the first thing that pops into my mind when Alex comes on TV!

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:35 pm

Jon - now you're showing your youthfulness! For some of us Dr Who means Willim Hartnell, Patrick Troughton et al!

That said my 20 year old daughter, a Dr Who fanatic, would probably also think of ER before Dr Who for Alex.

But to get back to the episode. I thought it was great. The best in the series so far. In each series there are one or two that really stand out - J K Rowling and Larry Lamb in the last series, Brucie in 2010 - this could be the one from this series.

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:59 pm

more basic errors for a start did no one think to check the 1841 census? The lady concerned had not been a widow since 1827... She even glossed over things in the will

Re: Alex Kingston's episode

Fri Sep 21, 2012 9:43 pm

Ah well. It was a good episode, but as a Kingston, I'm naturally disappointed that it spent no time at all on Alex's Kingston ancestors.

For anyone who is interested, here is a bit of info about her Kingston ancestors:

- Alex's grandfather was identified in the programme as Charles Kingston (1911-2000). Charles was born in Dulwich, the fifth child of Edward Kingston and Winifred Sawyer. Edward, like several of his brothers (and in-laws; see below) was a butcher by profession; there used to be large numbers of Kingston butcher shops around south London, but they're almost all closed now.

Edward was the fifth of eight children (six boys, two girls) of Charles Kingston and Helen Bosworth of Lidlington, Bedfordshire. Charles and Helen's graves could still be seen in the churchyard of Lidlington old church (which is now demolished) in 1995. Lidlington is where John Bunyan was from, and the hill down ito the village is thought to be the model for the Hill of Difficulty in Pilgrim's Progress. There were several family intermarriages with the Crouch family of Lidlington.

Charles' family received a visit at some stage from a John Samuel Kingston who was researching his own family tree (and had a family tradition of butchers). What John Samuel did find was husbands for two of his daughters; Charles' fourth child, Frederick, and sixth child, George, married two of John Samuel's daughters (also called Kingston). This makes the family tree difficult to draw :-(

John Samuel may have been inspired in his search by his mother, Catherine MacCallum, who was able to trace her own ancestry back to a MacCallum (of Glenlyon) who fought at Culloden.

Charles Kingston was active in the church, and he passed on his faith to several of his children. George Kingston (my own great grandfather) was, for a time, the head of all the Elim Pentecostal churches in England.

There isn't much known about family scandals. There was a falling out between two of the butchers (father and son) over the use of the 'Kingston butchers' name; there were a couple of illegitimate children; and there is a rumour that a village policeman confessed on his deathbed to having committed a couple of murders that he himself investigated!

Finally, some recent DNA tests have established that this branch of Kingstons were based in Paulerspury in Northamptonshire in the late 1500s, and that all the Kingstons in two villages in county Cork in Ireland are descended from a single member of this group of Kingstons; a Samuel Kingston who went to Ireland with Cromwell. The DNA testing also revealed a haplotype that is passed down the male line that is Anatolian in origin; perhaps there is a Roman soldier in our ancestry way, way back?
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