Well-known Australians play detective as they go in search of their family history, revealing secrets from the past. Taking us to all corners of Australia and the globe are six stories of individuals seeking to find the definitive answer to where they came from. Along the way secrets are uncovered and histories revealed – from heroic tales of military battles to harrowing tales of war’s legacy, from nineteenth century brothels to twentieth century child abandonment - with each celebrity discovering that their ancestors form an integral part of not only their own identity, but that of the nation.
Considering Australia’s multicultural background, this is a global story, with each celebrity tracing their ancestors around the world. They travel to the places where their forebears would have lived, loved and died, and learn about the hardships and hurdles their ancestors overcame. This is a fascinating chronicle of the social, ethnic and cultural evolution of Australia’s national identity.
Award winning actor, writer and comedian
Shaun Micallef says he has been too busy focusing on his comedy career to be interested in family history, but as he approaches the big "5-0", he has started to reflect on his own life. He is worried that his ancestors will be boring and dull. Not so. He’ll soon discover that they were players in some of the most extraordinary moments in modern history.
Writer / Director: Jane Manning | Post Director: Franco di Chiera | Editor: Beckett Broda
“Shaun Micallef is, in many ways, the ultimate expression of what makes a fascinating subject for this show” – The Guide smh.com.au Michael Idato 23/03/12
Television journalist Kerry O’Brien embarks on a journey to uncover his Irish roots. He discovers a colourful and fiery character in the form of Charles O’ Brien, the first O’Brien to arrive in Australia. Having survived both the potato famine and a perilous voyage, Charles makes the most of the new opportunities afforded him in the Colony. Kerry will be surprised by his other Irish ancestors also searching for a better life. Convicted thieves, and sent over as convicts, their lives continued on a dramatic course, as they took desperate measures for survival.
Writer / Director: Claire Meech | Post Director: Steve Peddie | Editor: David Fosdick
Director Of Photography: Ulrich-Stephan Krafzik | Assistant Producer: Janine Boreland
“ “Like all great episodes of this series, tiny details previously thought to be unimportant and inconsequential, become the equivalent of a smoking gun” – Green Guide editor Andrew Murfett, 29/03/13
Actress Melissa George rattles the skeletons in her family closet to uncover the heartbreaking truth behind a story of child migrants and investigates the case of an ancestor suspected of abusing a prisoner in a colonial gaol.
Writer / Director: Claire Meech | Post Director: Alan Carter | Editor: Teresa Ashton-Graham
“ ...one of its most rewarding qualities is the way in which they process those discoveries into tales we can relate to.” – The Age 22/03/12
On his father’s side there’s always been a mystery about his grandmother, as she died young, and little is known about her life or family. On his quest to find out who she was, Vince uncovers the story of her father, and finds out their lives in rural Calabria were touched by both joy and tragedy. Vince’s re-connection to his ancestral mother country is profound and his observations are steeped in humour, candour, and occasional coarse language.
Writer / Director: Jane Manning | Editor: Peter Pritchard
“ One of the great things about this series is the way the personality of the subject emerges so clearly. ” – Melinda Houston -Sun Herald, Sydney Unwind 15/04/12
Actor John Wood is best known for his role in “Blue Heelers” yet his detective work in “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?” reaffirms truth is more fascinating than fiction. John’s investigation into his father’s capture and imprisonment in Nazi Europe reveals an unexpected love story – while a search for his Swedish ancestors uncovers wealth that belies his working class roots.
Writer / Director: Max Walker | Editor: Beckett Broda
Director Of Photography: Ian Pugsley ACS | Assistant Producer: Cath Trimboli
“ ... a series that's turned genealogy into an engaging TV experience. ” – Sydney Morning Herald, Entertainment. 24/04/12
AFL Football Player
Michael investigates a family legend that connects him to Australia’s $50 bill and discovers a life-changing ancestor, who was one of the last tribal Aboriginals from the Coorong and Lake regions to move onto the mission. Working alongside Australia’s foremost anthropologist, Norman Tindale, his legacy was to preserve the memory of a disintegrating culture.
Writer / Director: Kay Pavlou | Post Director: Russell Vines | Editor: Beckett Broda
“ Don't miss this. ” – Dianne Butler, Herald Sun TV
Researchers: Diana Pepper, Kirrilly Brentnall, Linda Emery
SBS Independent Commissioning Editor: John Godfrey
The Who Do You Think You Are? format is devised by Wall to Wall and based upon a program originally produced by Wall to Wall for BBC1.
Format licensed by Warner Bros. International Television Production.
Based on the smash hit BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, each episode will profile an Australian celebrity tracing their family tree.
The original UK series was created and produced by Wall to Wall Media.
'Who Do You Think You Are?' is a Serendipity Productions and Artemis International Production in association with SBS, ScreenWest, Lotterywest and Screen Australia. © Copyright 2011.
Format Licensed by Wall to Wall Media Ltd
"We welcome the return of the impeccable Who Do You Think You Are?"
"A documentary that confronts, questions and raises many issues:medical ethics,personal choice and funding priorities - but none more so than the rights of the disabled, and of a mother and father."
"… is full of emotion,heartache,frustration and determination."
"… essentially a story of courage"
‘The filmmaker creates a perceptive, multilayered understanding of the young refugees’ experiences’
‘It is hard to remain dry-eyed as the schools multicultural soccer team sings Advance Australia Fair in the bus home from a match.'
"... already acknowledged as the world's most exciting visual and physical theatre company...the reason to go and see Stalker is the way they marry jaw dropping spectacle with real purpose."
"This is engaging and entertaining telly that also has something important to say"
"Set in WA, this is one reality series we all should watch."
"Setting this documentary apart…is the effort it makes to humanise the poachers and explain the circumstances which compels them to hunt."
"A dose of Reality TV without the hype"
"All three groups of fishermen feature in Lobster Tales, an ABC documentary that will change the way you look at these delicious crustaceans forever."
“The great achievement of Lobster Tales, a delightfully oddball WA-made documentary on the lucrative local crayfish industry ... strikes such a lovely balance between the lobsters and fishermen that it’s more like a well-wrought tragi-comedy than a traditional nature doco"
“Even for non-lobster-lovers, this quirky feature provides plenty of interest ... the highlight is the underwater photography by Leighton de Barros which is up-close and stunning."
"shows ordinary people doing extraordinary things ... the program usues the magic of TV to bring an important WA story to life"
“Though it’s not easy to watch a widow finally open up about her murdered husband (nor is it comfortable watching local Iraqis genuinely praise Saddam Hussein), Salam Father is yet another reason why the terms "SBS" and "quality documentary" fit like a hand in glove."
“A sense of reconciliation emerges in the program and there's considerable poignancy as elements of a family torn apart by war, politics and circumstance are reunited…"
“This is the compelling story of a family torn apart by war, envy, corruption and greed and how a quest for answers also helped heal old wounds. It might also help people look beyond the descriptions "refugee" and "asylum seeker" to see the person and their story…A powerful piece of television, made more authentic by Ziusudras' first-hand narration of this tale.”
"This documentary never becomes bogged down in legalese and is a compelling tale of one family's devotion to their son"
"A remarkable story and a clever and affecting piece of storytelling"
"An emotional journey...unflinchingly captured on camera"
Koori queens proudly get out and about in this high-spirited and affirming documentary."
"We get a rare glimpse into the world of indigenous gay men in tonight's Sissy ... an energetic, inventive and occasionally touching Western Australian-made documentary that looks at the lives of three colourful drag queens."
"Considering the double whammy served up by homophobia and racism, Sissy insists on having a good time while handling thought-provoking material."
[Shaun Micallef’s] quest to discover if there is ‘‘greater purpose than being a semi-professional Australian TV personality’’ makes for a funny and watchable journey.
Filled with wit, warmth and revelations, Stairway To Heaven will intrigue even non-believers.
"It's a compelling story and you made a compelling film out of it. Just terrific."
"A fascinating insight into the world of the night"
“Surprising, raunchy, hilarious, crazy! Expect the unexpected!”
"Puppetry most certainly is an art from and some of the performances here will take your breath away"
“I have been directly or indirectly involved in WDYTYA productions in the U.S., Canada and the U.K …I must say that this one [Andrew Denton's episode] of the very best I have seen”
"...it's the most engaging detective series in years"
"... surprising, extraordinary and often moving"
"A compelling, lovely adaption of an excellent British format"
"One of the reliable pleasures of this series is just how great it looks. The production values are always first-class and wherever we are in Australia or the world, you can't quibble with the scenery. Who Do You Think You Are? is about much more than looking pretty, though, blending history and biography to create a package that's accessible, entertaining and educational. (FOUR STARS)"
“It's the perfect mix of history and celebrity..."
"... this program has about it a quiet authenticity that allows the subject’s story to unfold of its own accord."
"The series is more than a peek into the backgrounds of the famous; it also chronicles the social and cultural evolution of our national identities via these celeb family histories. 4/5 stars"
"Each episode is essentially a feature documentary, well-researched and produced, and presented usually with a humorous or deeply emotional touch... This show is seriously habit-forming"
This series is fascinating and so well done...
(pick of the week)
"... explores the family histories of its subjects with class and humour. Verdict: A Hit."