In the 16 years it’s been on air, the BBC celebrity ancestry series Who Do You Think You Are? has delivered surprise after surprise, as famous faces discover mind-blowing facts about their distant relatives.
Who could forget when Sir Matthew Pinsent found out he was technically related to Adam and Eve, or – perhaps the show’s most famous revelation – when Danny Dyer worked out he is actually descended from royalty.
Before filming begins, a team of researchers spend hours and hours looking into a whole host of stars’ family backgrounds before deciding whose are the most compelling to feature.
Unfortunately, not everyone’s family history is quite TV-worthy, and that means there’s a whole lot of celebrities who haven’t made the cut for the show.
Here are 10 of the stars who have spoken publicly about having their Who Do You Think They Are? stories rejected...
The X Factor presenter joked that he didn’t think the production team tried hard enough when researching his family history, as he is adamant there are plenty of interesting details to be found.
He told parenting podcast Sweat, Snot And Tears: “They actually researched my family for about three months. They came back and said: ‘There’s just not enough interesting stuff about your family’.
“Wexford is a port town, and my family are all seafaring folk. I have it on good authority that two of them went to America. One of them was a police officer and the other was a judge and they both got killed by the Mafia in the 30s.
“They couldn’t find any record of this. I was like, ‘What are you on about? We’ve been everywhere, we’re a family of sailors’. I just don’t think they were trying hard enough. It’s awful, isn’t it? Absolutely awful.”
The Packed Lunch presenter said she “never heard” from Who Do You Think You Are? producers again after an initial meeting with them, leaving her to assume her family were not interesting enough.
Speaking on her Channel 4 chat show, she said: “A few of my friends have said that too, and we all think our families must be boring.”
The former politician was approached by the show about taking part, only to then be rejected.
Recalling a meeting with bosses during an appearance on The Steph Show, he said: “I told this story about my father. So, they said, ‘you’ve told that story already’.”
Sir Tom Jones
The music legend said his show wasn’t commissioned as there was no “controversy” in his family.
He told the Daily Star: “I think they looked at my family tree and they said, ‘Well they were all farmers’. I said, ‘Yeah I suppose they were’.
“There’s no controversy in it. They were all workers, apparently. They were all normal people.”
The Pointless quiz expert wrote on Twitter: “I was researched for Who Do You Think They Are? but they found nothing exciting.”
Richard admitted he didn’t have high expectations about what might be uncovered, but joked he was hoping he may be related to a pirate.
He tweeted: “I wasn’t expecting royalty but I was hoping there might at least be a pirate or two.”
The former chat show host admitted he was “gutted” when he was dropped from the show.
He told Radio Times in 2009: “When Who Do You Think You Are? called and asked if I was interested, I said I would be delighted, but warned that my own research had unearthed nothing of note. ’Oh, they all say that, but we always find something,’ they said.
“Six weeks later, they phoned to apologise. My story was so boring they had to cancel the entire project. I was gutted.”
Following Danny Dyer’s revelations about his royal ancestry, Eamonn shared his failed bid to appear on the show during a discussion with wife Ruth Langsford on This Morning.
He explained: “They interviewed me for two days and got all this documentation from me. But they never, ever got back to me.”
Eamon saw the funny side, though, joking that he comes from “a very boring family” to which Ruth agreed: “Very dull.”
According to a Mail On Sunday report in 2018 (via the Independent), the Extras actor was rejected after the production team discovered that his family all hail from the same place in Ireland, meaning that there was little to explore on the show.
The barrister and author, who is married to the former prime minister Tony Blair, was “thrilled” when she was approached to take part on Who Do You Think You Are?, but she was left needing to do her own research into her ancestry when her story was not commissioned.
She told the Daily Mail in 2014: “After some investigation, they decided not to go ahead because my ancestors weren’t very interesting. I guess I’ll just have to do the research myself one day.”
The former Doctor Who star was a lot more scathing about the show when they rejected his family story for the show.
He told the Sunday Mirror in 2019: “It says everything that the project went nowhere. They tugged aside the leaves on those branches and concluded, ‘Nothing to see here’.
“Generations of working-class people dismissed. Individuals with their own hopes, dreams and stories. Not army generals, industrialists, vaudeville singers, but factory workers, farm labourers, cleaners, nothing in any way ‘sexy’ enough for TV.”