The culmination of a two-year research project by BBC Documentaries, this four-part documentary series for BBC Two gives a breakthrough insight into social mobility and stagnation over the past 200 years. The programme will go out weekly from Thursday 10 March at 8pm.

Victorian working class Britain was a labyrinth of destitution, street crime, gang warfare, drink addiction and welfare dependency. Into this ‘dark continent’ came an army of upper-class missionaries to study and help the families they found. On their expeditions into the slums, these do-gooders came face-to-face with Britain’s outcast and unrecorded.

Using the upper-class slum-tourists’ written accounts of their meetings with the underclass, BBC Two has now traced the descendants of both the rich and poor, from Victorian times all the way down to the present day, to find out what happened to the families that history forgot.

In a story told by the descendants themselves, family members describe the ‘ancestral echoes’ that have shaped their personalities and steered their family journeys through history. Are we as socially mobile as we think, or have families been stuck in the same social rank for 200 years? Are you as an individual responsible for your own achievements, or were you shaped by the legacy of your forbears? Are there ghosts in the nursery, linking all of us to our ancestors?

Brought to you by the creators of the multi-award-winning and Bafta-nominated The Secret History Of Our Streets, The Secret History Of My Family is the culmination of a two-year research project by BBC Documentaries. The four films in the series follow archetypal family sagas, and as the families make their journey through British history, we learn the incredible life stories of their ancestors, and hear, first-hand, from their living descendants.

Throughout this breakthrough study, social mobility and social stasis come alive in the stories, struggles and triumphs of the families that history forgot. National myths about social mobility are exploded, and our nation’s story is told through the eyes of the descendants of both the slum dwellers and slum tourists. They are the British families no one has ever written about – but their stories belong to us all.


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