“DNA Detectives”

“DNA Detectives” is a New Zealand genealogy program that presents the DNA stories of two celebrities per episode. Two seasons of the program were created, in 2015 and 2017.

Host Richard O’Brien introduces each celebrity, asks about the anticipated DNA results, then briefs the celebrity on the DNA testing results. Finally, he hands the celebrity a device to stay in communication with him. The mysterious device is a smart phone.

The celebrities are given cryptic and entertaining clues as they are sent on missions around the world based on their DNA results. On those missions, they travel all over the planet to meet people with whom they share DNA to explore the stories locked in that DNA. These people sharing DNA matches have information about their shared ancestors.

While not all the celebrities may be recognizable to US audiences, the host may seem a bit familiar. He wrote the musical stage show, “The Rocky Horror Show” and co-wrote the screenplay of the film adaptation, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” in which he appeared as Riff Raff. Additionally, Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, is featured on an episode in Season 2.

This program differs from other genealogy programs because of its focus on the personal connections with living people as well as the shared stories. Even when a celebrity visits an archive, personal connections are involved. Even though the majority of the celebrities may not be recognizable to US audiences, the stories are entertaining, interesting and at times very touching. Thinking about the connections we all share around the world can be inspiring. The forgotten stories are also thought provoking. I am not sure that I had heard the word “grancestors” (ancestors of grandparents) used on a genealogy program before.

Two seasons are available on Amazon Prime (2015, 2017), with Season 2 having commercials.