‘I feel shame’ Sue Perkins makes candid admission as she learns about family past

Who Do You Think You Are: Sue Perkins reveals feeling ‘shame’

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Sue Perkins is known for her quick wit and dry sense of humour, and the comedian famously partnered with Mel Giedroyc to present The Great British Bake Off for many years. In a recent episode of the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? the comedian let down her guard as she explored her family’s past. Season 19 of the show aired with a one hour special on Sue as she explored her family tree and made some startling discoveries along the way.

As the show began, Sue, 52, admitted a lot of her life had been about “propulsion and going forward”.

The star wanted to get to the bottom of her almost unquenchable need to do “more” and her constant drive forward.

Losing her dad had made her “want to stop” in her tracks more and spurred on her exploration into her ancestors.

Her father, Bert Perkins, passed away after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in 2017.

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As the episode progressed, she learnt about her orphaned grandfather and her great-grandfather, who interned as an enemy alien during the First World War.

The more she looked into the German branch of her family, living in eastern Europe through the Second World War, she uncovered a gruelling account of refugees fleeing back and forth across borders between Nazi and Soviet control.

For Sue, it reminded her that history is full of real people who “always pay the price for the decisions that the big guys make”.

Learning more about her great-grandfather Amil and the hardships he went through helped her see traits of him in herself.

She said: “I wanted to know where that hand that pushes me forward that says ‘Work harder, do more, be better’ comes from.

“And it comes from Amil because work saved my great-grandfather here, and it, I suppose, saved my great-grandmother at home.”

The process allowed the broadcaster to pinpoint another emotion she had always felt.

Sue added: “But I have also found something else, a sense of shame I have carried. Real deep shame and I never knew where it was from.

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“And it’s here, it’s that sense of being ‘other’, being different, not feeling comfortable in your own skin.”

The experience “delighted” the TV presenter and allowed her to gain some clarity on who she really was.

She ended the show: “I couldn’t have been more delighted by this whole thing.

“It’s just nothing short of wonderful.

“Because I always knew that I came from what might be deemed humble stock, ordinary people, but these are extraordinary ordinary people.”

The next celebrity to dive into their past will be Richard Osman.

Richard, 51, looks into his Brighton roots and is astonished to discover that one of his ancestors turned amateur sleuth and ended up entangled in one of Brighton’s most notorious murder trials.

Sue Perkins’ episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is available on BBC iPlayer.

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