Who were Jodie Whittaker's grandparents and why is her granny's middle name Verdun?

WHO Do You Think You Are? is back on is back on TV tonight, and we'll be watching as Jodie Whittaker travels back in time.

The Doctor Who star discovered some emotional truths about her family's history on the hit genealogy show.

Who are Jodie Whittaker's family?

The actress, 38, grew up in a mining village in Yorkshire.

Jodie discovers on the programme that her great-grandfather Edwin on her mother's side was a strike breaker during the Coal Strikes of the 1920s.

As the programme traces his history back, Jodie discovers that Edwin started mining at just 8 years old, but worked his way up to become a mine owner with his sons.

Amidst the National Coal Strike of 1921 and the General Strike of 1926, Edwin chose to keep his mine open, which was a very profitable but controversial decision.

Speaking to Radio Times, Jodie said said: "As I understand it, it's their colliery and they're working through the strike… It's not an ideal bit of your family history. Essentially they were scabs. 

"Living here during the 80s, the idea that you work through a strike feels like it goes against everything you are brought up to believe in." 

Jodie also spoke to Radio Times about the process of amassing family documents: “There’s things that I was given, you know, marriage certificates, death certificates, things like that, you get copies of that and I think it’s about preservation.

“My grandma Rita, who the whole story follows, she was a massive hoarder and I’ve absolutely, sentimentally taken that on.

Who are her parents?

Her father Adrian was formerly president of Huddersfield Central Cricket League.

Her parents grew up together and courted until they were 20, before separating and getting married at age 30.

Jodie has a close relationship with her parents, but had never explored beyond her immediate family.

She said: “For me personally, it felt like I have a very strong identity with my mum, my dad and my brother as a family unit, but outside of that, at pretty much my grandparents, it stops there.”

 “The knowledge of my family history is really limited – on both sides, my mum and dad’s, I didn’t really know loads about the next generation.”

Why is her granny's middle name Verdun?

Jodie is fascinated by her paternal grandmother Greta Verdun. She had been told a romanticised version of the story behind her middle name – also the name of a First World War battle.

Previously, Jodie had believed her great uncle Walter was killed in war in 1916, but looking further into the past makes her question her family's myths.

Jodie said: 'So we follow my grandma Greta, who’s my dad’s mum, and she is the youngest of nine, and has been named after her eldest brother. 

'Her middle name is named after him in a way, and to discover who he was and what journey he went on – and being so close in history to mine. I mean, literally my dad’s uncle, and we had no idea the journey he went on and the hurdles he faced. 

'The actual, literal battles he was in. That side of it was an emotional rollercoaster because it was so close.

"It wasn’t like four generations ago, he was my dad’s uncle, and now because I’m 38, he’s like a young boy to me. 

'He was a young lad, with so much life and I think these stories of WW1 were all historical stories to me, or films, but nothing that was within the grasp of my own family history.' 

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