The best TV and radio programmes for family historians this December

By Guest, 28 November 2018 - 3:50pm

On TV this month, Nadiya Hussain traces her routes around Asia, Lucy Worsley recreates Queen Victoria's wedding and more

Nadiya's Asian Odyssey
Nadiya Hussain (centre) finds out how curry paste is made on Koh Sukorn in Thailand in Nadiya's Asian Odyssey (Credit: Danny Rohrer/ Wall to Wall/ BBC)

Pick of the month

Nadiya's Asian Odyssey
December, BBC One

Nadiya Hussain was born and raised in Britain, but has strong family ties to Bangladesh. When she took a DNA test, she was surprised to find that her heritage also encompasses Thailand, Cambodia and Nepal. Now the Great British Bake Off winner sets off for a trip to Asia that combines cookery, travel and genealogy.

As you might expect, it's food that provides the primary linking theme. In particular, Nadiya is fascinated by the parallels between the dishes of the countries she visits and the food she grew up eating.

In Cambodia, for example, she learns how to make palm sugar, a labour-intensive process that begins with harvesting sap. The buttery rich sugar is a staple in the country, yet also an ingredient that Nadiya has used all of her life.

At other times, dishes are definitely entirely new to her. In Thailand, she helps a women-only cooperative to make a curry paste that's unique to the island of Koh Sukorn. In Bangkok she makes insect-based crisps with one of the city's top chefs.

Throughout, Nadiya highlights parallels between life in the rural communities she visits and life in Bangladesh. This helps her find a sense of connection to places that she's never visited before.

Get more previews of this month's top TV in the December issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, on sale now


Also showing

My Family Secrets Revealed
Weekdays from Monday 3 December, 1.05pm, Channel 4

A kind of budget Who Do You Think You Are? for members of the public, this new daily show explores the truth behind family legends using a range of genealogical techniques. Although it's refreshing to see ordinary people having their family history revealed by a team of genealogical and historical experts there's no trips abroad or visits to archives here. The format, like PBS's Finding Your Roots, just has the research being presented to the person. Still, there's plenty here to interest family historians. The first episode includes a man who learns about the Second World War exploits of his estranged father and a woman who learns she is descended from Danish royalty.


Victoria & Albert: The Wedding
Mid-December, BBC Two

The 1840 wedding of the young Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was a lavish affair. We know this because of the details recorded in official archives, newspapers and Victoria's own diaries. These documents form the basis of this recreation of important elements of the ceremony and the surrounding celebrations.

Lucy Worsley oversees the 90-minute, one-off special, with a range of experts helping her to ensure authenticity. The documentary isn't just about the spectacle, though. It also explores the iconography and symbolism of the big day, and how the event offers insights into the couple's relationship. More surprisingly, we also learn how many modern wedding traditions can be at least partly traced back to the royal pair.

A History of Delusion
Weekdays from Monday 3 December, 1.45pm, Radio 4

The way we process our anxiety reveals much about the times through which we're living. So says Professor Daniel Freeman, whose new BBC Radio 4 series argues that delusions are vital in helping us deal with problems. He also considers how patterns in the delusions from which we suffer down the centuries reveal shared anxieties about technological and societal change.

The Long Song
Mid-December, BBC One

Slavery was finally abolished in Jamaica in 1838. What was it like to live through the final years of this hateful system?

A three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy's historical novel looks back from the perspective of former slave July (Tamara Lawrence). As a young woman she lived on a plantation owned by her odious mistress, Caroline Mortimer (Hayley Atwell). This was a time of huge upheavals, notably in late 1831 during an 11-day rebellion by up to 60,000 slaves. The Long Song reflects this revolutionary fervour, yet also finds room for hope and humour. A strong cast also includes Sir Lenny Henry.

Bomber Boys: The Fighting Lancaster
Monday 10 to Thursday 13 December, 9pm, PBS America

This living history series follows a group of young men as they recreate the training undertaken by Lancaster crews in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Each of those taking part is a descendant of a Second World War RCAF veteran. The series features the real-life anecdotes of those who flew bombing raids over Europe and a flight in one of the world's only operating Lancasters.

Mrs Wilson
Tuesday 4 and 11 December, 9pm, BBC One

Based on true events, this powerful new drama stars Ruth Wilson as her own grandmother. It's 1963 and Alison Wilson is happily married to Alexander, a novelist with ties to M16. His sudden death plunges her into a nightmare as she uncovers dark truths about his private and professional lives. The first episode is available on BBC iPlayer now.

Who Do You Think You Are? Series 14
Weekdays from Monday 10 December, 2.45pm, BBC One

There’s another chance to catch up with last year’s Who Do You Think You Are?, starring celebrities including Charles Dance and Clare Balding.

Made in Great Britain
Friday 7 and 14 December, 9pm, BBC Two

The series celebrating Britain's craft heritage concludes with a look at cheese-making in Wensleydale and shoemaking in Northamptonshire.


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