As the latest incarnation of Doctor Who (and the first female one), Jodie Whittaker’s take on the time lord has delighted Whovians. And she will give WDYTYA? fans a warm glow too as she goes back in time to discover a rags-to-riches story of miners in Yorkshire, the origins of her unusual middle name (Auckland) – and solves the mystery surrounding her grandmother’s brother.
Actress Jodie was born and raised in West Yorkshire and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She made her film debut in 2006 in Oscar-nominated British comedy Venus opposite Peter O’Toole and was nominated herself as most promising British newcomer several times including by the British Independent Film Awards.
Before she stepped into the TARDIS as the 13th doctor, she appeared in many television roles including in Return to Cranford, Black Mirror and Tess of the d’Urbervilles and as a grieving mother in Broadchurch. She has also appeared in films including St Trinian’s, Attack the Block and Adult Life Skills, for which she was nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress awards. She’s also appeared on stage and performed on radio.
Themes of Jodie’s episode: Yorkshire miners, WW1 Red Cross, New Zealand
Television personality, actor, writer, talent show judge, children’s story writer – there’s not much that David Walliams hasn’t done – and been awarded for. In his WDYTYA? episode, you’ll find out exactly where his talent for performance comes from. He also discovers an ancestor who experienced one of the worst battles of the First World War, and there’s a case of mistaken identity.
Born in 1971 in Wimbledon, London, most people will know David from his comedy sketch shows including Little Britain and Come Fly With Me. Since 2012, he’s also been delighting audiences as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent. His acting roles have been diverse: Frankie Howerd in a BBC4 film, the role of Greville White in Stephen Poliakoff’s Capturing Mary, and an alien in Doctor Who among them.
Described as the “fastest growing children’s author in the UK”, his Roald Dahl-esque stories have sold more than 37 million copies worldwide and some have been turned into films and stage musicals. David is also known for his charity work including for Comic Relief and Sports Relief (he famously swam the length of the Thames in 2011). He was awarded an OBE for services to charity and the arts in 2017.
Phew! We can’t wait to see what David makes of his forebears…
Themes of David’s episode: WW1, shell shock; showmen and travelling performers; disability
Silent Witness fans will recognise Liz Carr from her role as forensic examiner Clarissa Mullery in the popular BBC television crime thriller series. Her fictional character has helped to crack many mysteries and in her episode of WDYTYA?, Liz gets the chance to solve a genealogical riddle of her own.
The trail starts with her grandfather, the enigmatic John Joseph Hughes, who died when Liz’s mum was little, so she didn’t know a lot about him. Liz sets about piecing together the story of his life with fascinating results.
As well as being a familiar face on our TV screens (she’s appeared in CBeebies Bedtime Stories, and TV series Devs and The OA and made guest appearances on several panel shows, among other things), Liz is also a comedian, broadcaster and disability rights activist. She has Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita and has been in a wheelchair since the age of seven. Her comedy stage performances challenge stereotypes and have both raised eyebrows and won her plaudits, and she has campaigned for the rights of the disabled around the world. She also won a Royal Television Society award for the BBC’s disability-focused podcast Ouch!, which she co-hosted with Mat Fraser for seven years.
Themes of Liz’s episode: 19th-century Ireland, Protestant land-owners, Merchant navy
Ruth Jones captured our hearts as straight-talking Nessa from Barry Island in the award-winning television show Gavin & Stacey, which she not only starred in but also co-wrote alongside James Corden. So (as Nessa would say) ‘what’s occurring?’. Well, during her episode of WDYTYA?, Ruth uncovers a Welsh heritage that runs very deep and investigates her grandfather Henry Richard Jones, the medical aid societies in Wales and his role in establishing the early NHS – very relevant to our lives at the moment.
Born in 1966, Ruth hails from Bridgend in Glamorgan. The actress, writer and producer has appeared in several television comedies including Fat Friends, Little Britain and Stella (for which she was nominated for a British Academy Television Award and won three BAFTAs). She began her career in TV and radio comedy for BBC Wales before working in theatre at the RSC and The National Theatre. She’s starred in period dramas too, among them Little Dorrit and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Most recently she co-founded a production company and has begun writing novels – her first Never Greener sparked a bidding war between publishers. In 2014, she was awarded an MBE for her services to the entertainment industry.
Don’t miss this episode if you have Welsh forebears – Nessa would definitely brand it ‘tidy!’…
Themes of Ruth’s episode: Mariners, medical aid societies, NHS