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Naomie Harris: ‘I feel different after doing Who Do You Think You Are?’

Naomie Harris in Who Do You Think You Are?
(Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Stephen Perry)

Bond star Naomie Harris on why looking into her family tree tonight for Who Do You Think You Are? changed her life

As 007’s right-hand woman Moneypenny in the James Bond films, Naomie Harris is used to facing a dramatic shock or two. But even Naomie, who is currently filming the 25th Bond movie (opens in new tab), wasn’t prepared for the revelations she made when she looked into her own ancestry for Who Do You Think You Are?

Naomie Harris reveals the impact of taking part in genealogy show Who Do You Think You Are? tonight...

TV Times: Why did Who Do You Think You Are? appeal to you?

Naomie Harris: “I’d never been interested in my ancestry until my mum gave me a DNA kit as a present and I discovered I was almost 50% Nigerian. It sparked my interest because I realised I knew absolutely nothing.”

TVT: What was it like to find that direct African connection through your maternal ancestor Elizabeth Leevers, a slave in Jamaica who’d been brought over from Africa?

NH: “Incredible. I was in tears. Even though Elizabeth is my five-times great-grandmother and far removed, it meant so much. It makes you feel complete and part of this chain in history.”

TVT: But you found out one of your paternal ancestors was an overseer of slaves in Grenada. Was that tough to discover?

NH: “Being from the Caribbean you know you’re involved in slavery but it was a shock. But it’s a wonderful message that we’re made up of a multitude of different heritages.”

Naomie Harris as a child with her grandfather Josceyln

Naomie Harris as a child with her grandfather Josceyln (Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall/)

TVT: In Jamaica, you looked into the roots of your maternal grandfather Josceyln Harris. Was that emotional?

NH: "It was super-emotional! I reunited with my great-grandmother's neighbour who I'd met as a little girl. She had photos and it brought back so many memories of my grandfather and how close we were. It was sad but beautiful because I realised what a huge impact he had on my life."

MORE: Daniel Radcliffe discovers family SECRETS in his moving Who Do You Think You Are? (opens in new tab)

TVT: What else will you take away?

NH: “Part of my family story is tragic and involves poverty, slavery and hardship. But I feel gratitude for the sacrifices made so that I could have the privileges I do today. I feel different as a result of being part of the programme. It’s given me a desire to make the most of life, because I’m a workaholic. I want to enjoy myself more because my ancestors weren’t able to. For their sake, I want to have more fun!”

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on Monday 29 July on BBC1 at 9pm

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.