CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV:

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: A link to Henry VIII? Can’t blame Josh’s missus for feeling nervous

Who Do You Think You Are? 


Question Team


H-E-N-E-R-Y, he’s Henery the Eighth, he is. Carrot-topped comedian Josh Widdicombe must realise now that the truth about his ancestry has been staring at him in the mirror all his life.

A rollicking paper trail led him, as Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1) returned, to Hampton Court during the English Civil War and then to Westminster Abbey, where he discovered that one of his forebears was Mary Boleyn — sister of the ill-fated Anne.

Mary was one of Henry VIII’s many mistresses, and historical rumour has it that he fathered her eldest daughter . . . Josh’s 12 times great-grandmother.

So that’s where the hair came from. If the 38-year-old panel game regular piled on a few stone and grew a half-moon beard, the resemblance might be even stronger. No one could blame his missus for feeling nervous.

The disbelief on Josh’s face as each new revelation unfurled on scrolls of parchment was a delight to behold, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

The disbelief on Josh’s face as each new revelation unfurled on scrolls of parchment was a delight to behold. His jaw was hanging open in Hever Castle — family seat of the Boleyns — as he learned his line went back to the 13th century’s King Philippe of France . . . his 24 times great-grandfather. ‘Proper blue blood,’ whistled Josh.

The producers, who knew the spectacular lineage long before Josh did, were having great fun too, throwing out hints. The most intriguing was a portrait of Josh’s 12 times great-gran, Lettice Knollys, a Tudor lady-in-waiting who looked like a younger, prettier Elizabeth I.

Josh studied the picture but didn’t guess the significance. Lettice turned out to be the monarch’s cousin. Much to the Virgin Queen’s chagrin, she even married Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester — once hotly tipped to marry Good Queen Bess himself.

When that was explained, Josh was reeling: ‘My 12 times great-grandmother was in a love triangle with Elizabeth I?’ he exclaimed.

For addicts of the era (and aren’t we all, what with Wolf Hall, The Six Wives and all the rest?), the full truth is even juicier.

Heartbreaker of the night 

Fans of Our Yorkshire Farm (C5) felt their eyes overflow as Tony the Pony stood forlorn at the back door of the family house. His friend Little Joe, a 40-year-old Shetland, was found dead in the stables. Animals grieve, too. 

We weren’t told, but one of Lettice’s sons became the second Earl of Essex — the Queen’s toy-boy favourite. And though the show dwelt on the Civil War martyr Henry Rich, Earl of Holland (great-granddad times ten), there was no mention of the earlier Richard Rich (great-granddad times 13), a real Tudor villain whose perjury under oath led to the execution of Thomas More.

When the show hits a vein as rich as this, the Beeb ought to consider stretching the format to 90 minutes, or even a two-parter. Quite by accident, Question Team (Dave) has hit upon a doozy of a format, thanks to Gone Fishing’s Bob Mortimer. Host Richard Ayoade invited three comedians to come up with questions for a quiz and for his, Bob devised an entire game show, where players compare DIY tools.

Which is heavier: a stepladder, a hose reel or a bucket of paint? And which tool has the longest flex: the pressure washer, vacuum cleaner or hedge trimmer? It’s unexpectedly addictive. Bob’s maniacal impression of a Saturday night gameshow presenter could make you laugh till you swallow your teeth.

Richard had to cover his face to hide his hysterics. Guests Kerry Godliman and Thanyia Moore followed suit. Thanyia went skydiving and shouted her questions while free-falling.

The show looked like a certain winner until Richard’s round, where players had to guess the opening lines from novels: dull, uninspired and, after the preceding mayhem, very unfunny.

But a whole series of comparing household objects could be a ratings smash — with Bob in charge.

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