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Coronation Street star traces Gibraltar roots

Michelle Keegan, star of the military drama Our Girl and Coronation Street, establishes her family links with Gibraltar in the upcoming episode of Who Do You Think You Are?, the BBC's genealogy documentary series, screened tomorrow.

Mancunian through and through, Michelle was already aware of a Gibraltar link to her family on her grandmother’s side and was curious to find out more about her Gibraltarian family.

The programme was partly filmed in Gibraltar some months ago where Michelle finds out about her Gibraltarian great grandmother Leonor Orfila and her English great grandfather Charles Stuart Wiltshire.

Michelle and her mother Jackie look through photos and discover a photo of Michelle’s Gibraltarian great grandmother and how very much in love they were never going anywhere without each other.

They talk about what it meant to be Gibraltarian, and Jackie tells her daughter that Leonor and her family would have identified as British.

Locally she meets the Director of the Gibraltar Garrison Library Dr Jennifer Ballantine who shows her the 1911 census and visits her family’s local church, Sacred Heart.

Michelle also learns that the young family would be torn apart by the Second World War and the civilian evacuation in 1940. Wanting to find out more about this episode in Gibraltar’s history Michelle meets up with her great uncle Michael, who she knew lived locally and would have been a similar age to Leonor when they were taken to the UK.

But wanting to push back even further into this branch of her family history she also meets local researcher Richard Garcia, who takes her through her family tree back to a man named Giacomo Parodi – Michelle’s seven times great grandfather – who turns out to be from Genoa.

In the programme she also discovers more about the life of her suffragette great great grandmother and her links to the female suffrage movement's leader Emmeline Pankhurst which she told The Andrew Marr show on Sunday had changed her world view.

Keegan, 31, also plays army medic Lance Corporal Georgie Lane in the drama series Our Girl, with a new series starting tonight on ITV.

See feature on page 11 of our print or e-edition.

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