The NBC genealogy show “Who Do You Think You Are?” will return this Friday as Martin Sheen traces his family tree back to the Irish Civil War and Spain.
The show sees Sheen travel to Ireland where he investigates his uncle’s ties to the Irish Civil War and his devotion to activism. His mother, Mary-Anne Phelan, from Borrisokane in County Tipperary, emigrated to the US during the Irish war of Independence.
Martin Sheen (born Ramón Antonio Gerard Estévez) was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1940 to an Irish mother and Spanish father. He was one of 10 children.
Speaking at a press conference while promoting the movie “The Way” he said, “I've always felt the balance between the two cultures, I've never felt more Spanish than I did Irish and I've never felt more Irish than I did Spanish. I love both countries, and both cultures had a profound effect on me."
Sheen said “My father was my hero, he was the most influential person in my life growing up.”
His father Francisco Estevez first came to the States in 1914 when he was 16, but he was unable to enter because there was a quota on Spaniards because of the Spanish-American war.
“He went with his brother to Havana for almost three years and came back into the United States through Miami as a Cubano. He had a very interesting journey.”
Sheen’s own journey with “Who Do You Think You Are?” also brings him to Spain where he uncovers another relative who also fought for social justice and was wrongly imprisoned in Franco’s fascist regime. During the show, he traces his family back to the 1700s in Spain, where he uncovers an unexpected family secret.
The third series of the show will include a host of celebrities tracing their roots. These include Martin Sheen, Marisa Tomei, Blair Underwood, Reba McEntire, Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Rita Wilson, Edie Falco, Rashida Jones, former NFL running back Jerome Bettis, Jason Sudeikis, and Paula Deen.
Executive producers Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky released a statement which read “We're very excited about the stories we have this season. This fantastic group of people we have will take us to countries we haven't visited before which is thrilling and gives us glimpses into crucial details of history that not only shaped their families, but our world. This is what we love about this series; it's so enriching for us the viewer, as well as the participants and their families.”
Previous contestants have included Sarah Jessica Parker, Kudrow, Rosie O'Donnell and Steve Buscemi.
Season three premiers with Martin Sheen’s episode on Friday, 3rd February at 8pm.
Here’s the promo for the next season of the show: