The Secret History of My Family

Watch The Secret History of My Family

  • 2016
  • 1 Season
  • 7.0  (12)

The Secret History of My Family, which aired on BBC Two in 2016, is a gripping British historical documentary series that finely knits together personal human stories and larger societal reflections. Structured as a four-part series, it traces the genealogies of four different families, delving into individual tales, secret archives, and lost traditions.

The documentary reveals Britain's socio-economic fabric, tracing the trajectory of the country from the Victorian times through the Edwardian era, to World War I and II, ending in contemporary Britain. By doing so, it vividly highlights the deep class divides, shifting moral perspectives, and persistent societal stigmatization that marked these periods.

In the series, the filmmakers dig through rich historical archives of old court records, workhouse ledgers, and census documents, unearthing fascinating stories about ordinary families. These families, previously lost to history, were once at the seams of society's moral judgments and class systems. It strategically uses genealogical research and modern technology tools to present a larger social history ridden with inequality and prejudice.

The first episode deals with the Gadbury sisters — four criminals belonging to the Victorian underclass — and their descendants. This episode is a captivating exploration of trans-generational narratives of crime, punishment, resilience, and social assimilation. It provides a deep dive into the juxtaposition of morality, crime, and opportunities for people at the bottom rung of the society in the Victorian era.

The successive episodes continue to unravel such tales, rich in personal struggles and societal outlooks— such as the story about the criminal-turned-respected policeman or the histories of two families interlinked through an act of betrayal. Each family brought into focus in the series has some kind of socially questionable past that eventually presents a stark and compelling contrast to their present situations.

A salient feature of The Secret History of My Family is its successful weaving together of the micro and the macro. While it closely follows individual family narratives, it doesn't miss the larger historical canvas. It engages viewers with intimate family stories on the one hand, and on the other, it prompts them to confront challenging questions about poverty, crime, social mobility, and class prejudice that are as relevant today as they were back then.

The documentary also triumphs in its visual narrative. Peppered with period dramas enacted by actors, along with narration from family members and descendants, the series is aesthetically appealing, keeping its viewers hooked. There's an effective use of animation, grayscale footages, and neat editing that add to its gritty ambience. Coupled with the compelling storytelling, this visual experience ensures that the viewers are not merely observers, but participants in the evolving historical narratives.

What sets The Secret History of My Family apart from other documentaries of similar themes is its sensitivity towards individual stories and its multi-disciplinary approach. It doesn't merely present each family's history as a list of checkerboard facts, but rather, weaves each narrative into a rich tapestry that reflects historical truths, societal values, and personal morality tales. It blends the hard-edge facts with the elements of drama, and introduces insights drawn from sociology, historiography, and cultural anthropology.

The series succeeds in its objective to challenge our general perceptions about crime, punishment, social mobility, and class prejudices that we often associate with particular periods in history. It brings into sharp relief that how individual lives, no matter how ordinary, are shaped and driven by larger historical forces that are often beyond their control. It also underscores how individual destinies can unknowingly become part of the society's broader fabric.

In summary, if you're enthralled by grand historical narratives, intrigued by family histories, or simply drawn to tales of human resilience and struggle, The Secret History of My Family is indeed an enriching watch. By tapping into its well-researched narratives, coupled with its visually compelling storytelling, you're bound to get a fresh perspective on British history, as seen and experienced by its ordinary citizens. This spectacular mix of the personal and the political isn't just a documentary series, it's an invitation to explore and reflect upon the shared, continuous human journey through time and space.

The Secret History of My Family is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (8 episodes). The series first aired on March 10, 2016.

The Secret History of My Family
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Seasons
The Nelsons & Margaret Marchant
4. The Nelsons & Margaret Marchant
March 31, 2016
The story of an Edwardian family locked in benefit dependency, and of a mother, accused of a shocking crime against her own child. Did the welfare given to Susan Nelson's family provide her descendants with the chance to move up in life? More than a hundred years on, some of Susan's descendants remain trapped in patterns of benefit dependency - while others have freed their families from the grinding poverty of their ancestor. But was it government welfare or hard graft that liberated them from their past?
The Nelsons & Margaret Marchant
4. The Nelsons & Margaret Marchant
March 31, 2016
The story of an Edwardian family locked in benefit dependency, and of a mother, accused of a shocking crime against her own child. Did the welfare given to Susan Nelson's family provide her descendants with the chance to move up in life? More than a hundred years on, some of Susan's descendants remain trapped in patterns of benefit dependency - while others have freed their families from the grinding poverty of their ancestor. But was it government welfare or hard graft that liberated them from their past?
The Salford Scuttlers
3. The Salford Scuttlers
March 24, 2016
In the 1890s Salford erupted into postcode violence after heavy press hysteria and public panic. In this episode descendants of the gang warfare group called Scuttling, give their family stories, and ask whether violence is still part of life in working class Salford.
The Salford Scuttlers
3. The Salford Scuttlers
March 24, 2016
In the 1890s Salford erupted into postcode violence after heavy press hysteria and public panic. In this episode descendants of the gang warfare group called Scuttling, give their family stories, and ask whether violence is still part of life in working class Salford.
The Manleys and the Hunts
2. The Manleys and the Hunts
March 17, 2016
In this episode, the true story of two Victorian mothers, Lavinia and Florence, from opposite ends of the social scale, both bought together by domestic violence.
The Manleys and the Hunts
2. The Manleys and the Hunts
March 17, 2016
In this episode, the true story of two Victorian mothers, Lavinia and Florence, from opposite ends of the social scale, both bought together by domestic violence.
The Gadbury Sisters
1. The Gadbury Sisters
March 10, 2016
In this episode, there is the story of three pickpocketing sisters raised in 1830s Shoreditch, in the heart of London's criminal underworld, and how two of them were banished to England's theft colony.
The Gadbury Sisters
1. The Gadbury Sisters
March 10, 2016
In this episode, there is the story of three pickpocketing sisters raised in 1830s Shoreditch, in the heart of London's criminal underworld, and how two of them were banished to England's theft colony.
Description
Where to Watch The Secret History of My Family
The Secret History of My Family is available for streaming on the BBC Two website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Secret History of My Family on demand at Amazon Prime.
  • Premiere Date
    March 10, 2016
  • IMDB Rating
    7.0  (12)