Turi King returns to our screens with DNA Family Secrets
Professor of Genetics Turi King returns to our screens on 27 September for another heart wrenching series of DNA Family Secrets.
Turi, who co-presents the series alongside Stacey Dooley, helps individuals answer some life changing questions through DNA testing.
The genealogy programme has proved so popular that it’s now into its third series and resolves some of its biggest mysteries yet thanks to the expertise of Turi who is also known for her amazing work identifying the remains of King Richard III discovered beneath a Leicester car park.
“Just when you think it couldn’t get anymore emotional, it does,” says Turi.
“It’s incredibly emotional to film. There is a box of tissues on the table for our contributors as we’re filming but I joke they’re actually for me because I’m a massive empath and I get so invested in helping the people who have come to us. It’s life-changing information I’m passing onto people. It’s a real honour and responsibility to be part of their journey.
“There are two things that I think are so important about our programme. The first is that we show the reality of DNA testing - that people don’t always get all the answers they want or expect - it’s not always wrapped up in a nice little bow. It’s really important that we show that. And the second is that we don’t take on cases we think will be easy, our cases also highlight the complex social history of our society. It’s heart-warming, intelligent, thoughtful television.”
From an Olympic athlete trying to trace their dad, a foundling who wants to find any family members she can, to a 90-year-old woman who was led to believe her mum had passed away when she was a youngster, the stories behind the contributors are “truly compelling” adds Turi.The six-part series is part-filmed at the University of Leicester and features 18 different cases.
“In many ways it’s about digging up loss and that’s why we have a lot of support available behind the scenes to help individuals, including adoption support workers and counsellors who are used to guiding people through this sensitive process. It’s deeply personal what we’re helping people with and it’s often about their identity and who they feel they are in the world.”
Speaking about Stacey, who she has come to know throughout filming, Turi says: “She’s such a lovely person to work with and puts everyone involved at ease. It’s such a nerve-wracking experience that people go through in front of the cameras and of course it’s capturing real, raw feelings – there’s no second shot at it. It’s got to be done in one take. She’s the perfect presenter for this because she has such warmth.”Turi is about to embark on a number of talks across the country entitled ‘DNA Detective’, kicking off in Bristol on 23 September and including Loughborough Town Hall on 24 October, ending at the Royal Spa Centre, Leamington on the 30 October.
“I love what I do and it gives people a chance to hear exactly how I go about it. Hopefully my talks are insightful and fascinating for the audience and they also get the chance to ask me any questions they might have.”
Turi is Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics at the University of Leicester, based in three different areas of the University: the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, and External Relations.
DNA Family Secrets starts on 27 September, 9pm on BBC Two.