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Charlene White: Loose Women star ‘crumbled’ after heartbreaking family discovery

Oct 19, 2021

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Loose Women star Charlene White has delved into her family’s history in a new documentary for ITV. The film, which was commissioned as part of ITV’s programming for Black History Month, sees the presenter embark on a deeply personal journey in which she uncovers the roots of her connection to the British Empire in a bid to find out if we can ever truly emerge from its shadow. Speaking about the new documentary, Charlene confessed she “crumbled” upon finding out some details of her heritage.

Charlene White: Empire’s Child airs on ITV on Thursday and enables viewers to follow the presenter on her journey to discovery.

In the documentary, Charlene travels across Britain and Jamaica on a genealogy journey to investigate her own heritage and the relationship between the Empire and her family.

Speaking about her experience making the film, Charlene confessed there were elements of the investigation that surprised her.

She explained how lucky she felt to have access to records as she worked alongside genealogists in the UK, America and Jamaica.

Charlene said: “To be able to go as far back as we were able to really did surprise a lot of the genealogists and I didn’t think they’d be able to go as far back to find out where the Stanbury name came from.

“That really did hit me and it was very interesting to find out more about those members of my family that were born into slavery.

“And about the members of my family that became freed slaves and what they chose to do with their life once they became free.

“There was a point at which all the emotions hit me like a 10-ton truck. I just crumbled at that point which was very unlike me,” she revealed.

The presenter explained that she did become emotional during certain points of the investigation.

Charlene remarked: “I think I was determined not to get hugely connected to it because I just thought it’s a massive cliché to get really upset about my own family history.

“I’m a journalist, we don’t do that – and then I did,” she confessed.

She went on to encourage others to learn more about their own family history, by speaking to their elder relatives.

Charlene said: “I would really encourage people to find out as much as they can about their family history from their older generations before they go because they’ve got a wealth of information in their brains.

“Once that goes, being able to find that out and the ability to tell that story will be gone.

“I would plea for everyone to sit down and have some amazing conversations with their grandparents and great grandparents if they’re lucky enough to still have them and jot down notes.

“At some point in time, when you get a bit older like me and my aunt, you will want to know,” she added.

Throughout the documentary, viewers will see Charlene piece together broken familial records.

She’s joined on her journey by her auntie Eleanor who had already been looking into their family history but had reached a point where she couldn’t get any more information.

Going back in time to the very start of the British Empire, Charlene makes some surprising discoveries about how the Empire shaped her family’s lives and asks what it is to be Black and British.

Charlene White: Empire’s Child premieres Thursday, October 21 at 9pm on ITV.

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