US Version of UK Who Do You Think You Are? Episode

25 February 2011 | Tags: ,
Who Do You Think You Are? titlecard

Who Do You Think You Are? titlecard

As a long-time viewer of the BBC edition of Who Do You Think You Are?, which has broadcast sixty episodes over seven seasons so far1, I recognized tonight’s episode featuring Kim Cattrall as an edited version of a BBC episode from 2009 (Series 6).

As fans of PBS may be aware, hour-long BBC originals are aired with no commercial breaks, at about 55 minutes running time.  Since the American edition has the typical set of advertisements and brief “coming up” clips, it has a running time of under 50 minutes, requiring some edits to fit the shorter schedule.

The major differences in this episode were:

  • All narration was dubbed for continuity of using the same narrator as the other American episodes.  This also allowed shorter segues and also may have served to remove references to edited clips.  When the BBC aired the first season of the American episodes late last year, they similarly dubbed them with their British narrator.
  • When her married grandfather disappeared from his family, the starting point of this episode’s search, he first attempted to travel to the United States as a stowaway — checked on a possible lead from Ms. Cattrall’s mother — and was forced to return to England when he was caught.  While he listed himself in the passenger list as single, a curious contradiction included mentioning a wife and refusing further information.  This clip was excised from this version, but a portion of it appears on the NBC website as a “Featured Video” extra.
  • After Ms. Cattrall learned of her grandfather’s bigamy upon returning to England, she first spoke with a legal historian to learn of contemporary motives for not divorcing — heavy travel and trial expenses, as well as divorce law being mostly based on fault — and the penalties if caught for the crime of bigamy — up to seven years of prison, a fine, or both.  This was also cut from the NBC version, a portion appearing on the website as an extra video.

If NBC releases the second season on DVD — the first season has been announced for release next month — I hope they include at least these deleted clips as extras, or as part of an “extended” (more accurately “restored”) longer episode.  They include historical context that I felt was missing in the local version after having seen the imported original.

For other reviews and blog mentions, see the GeneaBloggers widget listing mentions of this week’s show.

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1 While there have been sixty episodes of BBC originals over seven series, six of the series released on European Region-2-encoded DVD, they may also be tallied as sixty-seven episodes over eight series when including their rebroadcast of the US version with over-dubbed British narration.  These numbers increase further when adding episodes from other Who You Think You Are? franchise editions not yet announced or released on DVD, including eighteen (and counting) Australian episodes, thirteen Canadian episodes, and twelve Irish episodes.

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  1. February 27th, 2011 at 11:49
    Reply | Quote | #1

    Eric, thank you for explaining the differences between the UK and US versions of this episode, and for the link to the NBC site to see the extra videos. This helped give me some background and made George Baugh seem even more of a scoundrel! :)

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