Who Do You Think You Are?

David Mitchell is loved for many reasons. His killer turn in Peep Show; the fact he’s the straight Stephen Fry it’s okay to fancy; his razor sharp wit; his barbed rants on panel shows; the fact he looks exactly like the kid from Belleville Rendezvous. He’s just generally brilliant.

So seeing him plonked into his own bloodline and history in Who Do You Think You Are? was always going to be a treat, right?

Of course it was. Who Do You Think You Are? is a show that feels like it could only ever work on the BBC. If ITV did it, they’d delve into the lives of Piers Morgan, Vernon Kaye, Holly Willoughby’s left breast and other utterly uninteresting articles.

Auntie gives the whole thing a sense of gravitas… a sense of depth and scholarliness. With a fine array of guests with implausibly interesting family trees, the show treads the fine line between gawping gossip and brain stirring intelligence.

Mitchell’s gambol through his family traced up to Scotland with sheep, sheep, sheep, sheep and sheep.

In the bracing wilds of the Outer Hebrides, Mitchell strolled and raised an eye brow as each leaf turned discovered yet another slightly posh middle class family member… something that amused Mitchell no end because “without the middle classes, there would be no comedy.”

Mitchell’s own scholarly instincts made this particular edition of the show a little slower than previous outings (such as the dazzling Davina McCall show), yet, despite its gentleness, it still had moments of real face-slapping fun.

Through the dignified stoicism of his entire family and the considered and noble pastimes, out of the blue, came the most vicious and hilariously cruel will ever to grace a TV set. Mitchell and his distant relative revelled in the absurdity of it all, trying to stifle laughs as tales of a drunk, uncouth woman were read.

Who Do You Think You Are? is a very British show. Steady, quirky and fun. David Mitchell is a perfect participant and last night’s show gave another great big tick next to it. Wholly satisfying television.

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