Well-known Australians play detective as they go in search of their family history, revealing secrets from their past.
16 Jul 2015 - 1:29 PM  UPDATED 15 Aug 2016 - 2:30 PM

Episode 1: Adam Hills

Comedian Adam Hills has often drawn on the themes of prejudice and being different in his comedy to point out “just how ridiculous they are”. But he has no idea how deep they run in his own family history.

Adam retraces the desperate journeys undertaken by his migrant ancestors, from Central Europe and Malta. With their families torn apart by war and prejudice, both his great-grandfathers risked everything for a new life in Australia. He also discovers a medieval ancestor who made his fortune from a barbaric business.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 2: Asher Keddie

Actress Asher Keddie sets out to find the origins of her creative passions, discovering that she comes from a very long line of artistic performers. These include an acting ancestor whose story shares eerie parallels to her own life, and a nineteenth century musician who played a part in some of the most significant moments of his time.

Asher’s lifelong dedication to following her artistic passions is clearly no random occurrence, but a tradition going back many generations. "The gene is still strong, it's still really strong".

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 3: Don Hany

On the trail of his ancestors, actor Don Hany journeys to the heart of Europe to investigate his controversial Hungarian grandfather, who was caught up in a Cold War flashpoint.

Don knows something of his father’s Iraqi side of the family but his mother’s Hungarian heritage seems to be one of secrets and pain, and centres around one man, his Hungarian grandfather, József Szabó. Don’s mother Csilla has nothing good to say about her father, calling him a violent, controlling and an unfaithful man. But, even more troubling for Don, is that his Mum keeps telling him he reminds her of József!

So who was this man? And are his mother’s stories true? As a new father and family man, Don wants to know. He travels to Hungary, delves into its tumultuous Cold War history and finds that his grandfather was at the centre of the action. Not only this, Don is faced with the very different public and private personas of grandfather József Szabó as he unravels a labyrinth of secrets and lies that still divide his family.

Remarkably, Don's journey also sees his mother Csilla reunited with her sister Éva. Following the death of their father József, the sisters lost contact and didn't speak for 30 years. Eager for them to reconcile, Don calls his Mum from Budapest and finally gets the two sisters speaking again.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 4: Michael Caton

Actor Michael Caton has an iconic place in Australian screen history often playing characters of dubious repute. Could this be a case of art imitating life? Are these types of characters part of his DNA? To find out Michael will retrace the lives of his forbears uncovering a bleak story of suicide and its consequences but also the rollicking tale of the first Caton to come to Australia and their connection to one of Australia’s greatest outlaws.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 5: Lex Marinos

For several decades actor Lex Marinos has embodied all that is so-called ethnic on Australian screens, from the comedy Kingswood Country to the intense drama of The Slap. Lex identifies strongly with his Greek heritage, growing up as “an outsider” in an assimilationist White Australia era. But has his predominantly Greek identity overshadowed his grandmother’s Anglo-Celtic lineage?

Celebrating the birth of his granddaughter in a traditionally Greek-Australian family gathering, Lex is aware that the picture is incomplete. He journeys to a one-horse outback town on the trail of his revered Greek grandfather Tony and his Anglo-Scottish grandmother, Minnie. There he discovers that the strong moral principles espoused by his grandfather are founded on shaky ground. He also travels to colonial-era Tasmania to investigate Samuel Bradley, an ancestor wrongly-accused of a terrible crime, and learns of the repercussions for the life and family he’d built in a harsh and brutal environment.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 6: Susie Porter

Actor Susie Porter delves into her grandmother’s mental illness, unpicking a thread that reveals mental illness extends further back in her family than she knew. Susie faces the past head on and in a deeply personal way, her family story charts dramatic advances in the field of mental health treatment in Australia.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 7: Rove McManus

Entertainer Rove McManus is in for a ride that will test even his famous appetite for the unexpected. Rove has always thought his beloved Pop was an open book about his experiences in the Second World War, but he uncovers the painful truth that his Pop never talked about.

On his father’s side, Rove uncovers the shocking story of his Great Grandfather’s role in the violent Kimberley frontier, and the ironic twist of fate that finally brought him undone. And then there’s Rove’s own life-long question – why am I the black sheep of the family, the only creative one? In the pages of a little book that’s been thoroughly defaced, he finds the astonishing answer.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Episode 8: John Howard

Actor John Howard follows his Grandfather’s trail through the horrors of the Great War, finding a promising military career ruined by a single regrettable act. And he discovers a kindred spirit, an ancestor who fought for social justice - all the time battling his own demons.

Watch the episode in full at SBS On Demand - or right here:

 

 

Watch the first seven seasons of Who Do You Think You Are in full - streaming now at SBS On Demand.  

Join stars Julia Morris, Peter Garrett, Delta Goodrem, Rachel Griffiths, Mal Meninga, Jane Turner, Shane Jacobson and John Newcombe in Season Eight of Who Do You Think You Are. Starts Tuesday 13th September at 7.30pm (AEST) on SBS.

Watch the trailer below: 

See also: Genealogy Resources

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Who Do You Think You Are? Season 2
Well-known Australians play detective as they go in search of their family history, revealing secrets from their past.