Irish Roots


May 5th, 2014

The Genealogy Roadshow and the No. 16 bus

John Grenham

Working as a television presenter can seriously loosen your grip on reality. That much was clear from the moment I started work on The Genealogy Roadshow three years ago, when crew would refer to me as "the talent", tell me how wonderful I was and treat me like a piece of the scenery. But it wasn't clear then just how long the effect would last.

The flashbacks have been happening for more than two years now. Every so often, people will look at me and then look harder, or startle away as if I'm electrified. Eventually I realised that these incidents always coincided with the many, many repeats of the Roadshow on RTE1. No-one expects to see the man off the telly on the number 16 bus.

My grip on reality is about to become even looser. The second series finally starts next Sunday, May 11th, at 7 pm. Along with fellow-presenters Turtle Bunbury and Susan Chadwick (both admirably grounded in reality) and ably jollied along by the indefatigable Derek Mooney, we will once again be helping ordinary people disentangle their family histories at roadshows held in extraordinary venues: Powerscourt House, UCC and Corpus Christi College in Derry.

The main difference with the last series is the way we all mastered what we were doing and became a single team, not just talent and crew. It helps to be at ease if you have just ten minutes to grasp and straighten out a complicated family story.

One good thing that hasn't changed, though, is the way the programme reflects the reality of research, successes, failures and everything in between. That, and the abundance of non-celebrities. More information is at rte.ie/tv/genealogyroadshow.

And, like my fellow-commuters on the No 16, I still find it weird that I'm on telly. I'll be behind the couch again.


Comments and suggestions are welcome, to irishroots(at)irishtimes.com.

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