Saturday, 12 July 2014

Red hair and climate change

A number of newspapers this week, including The Independent, the Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post, reported on a ludicrous story suggesting that the gene associated with red hair could die out as a result of climate change. The source of this story appears to be an interview with "DNA expert... Dr Alistair Moffat, boss of genetic testing company ScotlandsDNA" published in the Scottish Daily Record. I have not been able to find any evidence that Alistair Moffat has a PhD in any subject and he does not seem to have any qualifications in genetics so it is somewhat surprising to find that he is described both as a doctor and as a DNA expert. Most unusually the story was supported by a quote from "another scientist, who asked not to be named because of the theoretical nature of the work". I do not ever recall seeing any story in the press before where a scientist insisted on retaining his or her anonymity, though it is perhaps understandable in view of the nonsensical nature of the theory.

ScotlandsDNA have since claimed that Alistair Moffat was misquoted, though they have not enlightened us as to what exactly Alistair Moffat is supposed to have said.

The science writer Adam Rutherford has written an excellent article for The Guardian, Relax, redheads. You're not about to die out, exposing the bad science behind the red hair and climate change theory. As a side note, I get a brief mention at the end of the article for my blog post debunking the story of  Prince William's "Indian" DNA. The Prince William story emanated from a press release from ScotlandsDNA's sister company BritainsDNA and, as with the red hair story, was picked up unquestioningly by a gullible press.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Who Do You Think You Are Live? 2015 goes to Birmingham

There has been a lot of speculation about the date and venue for Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015. I've now received official confirmation in the form of a press release from Immediate Media that the event will indeed be held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and the show will change dates and will now take place from 16th to 18th April. Here is the official press release:


Immediate Media Co, the special interest content and platform company, announces that Who Do You Think You Are? Live, the world’s largest family history event, is to relocate to the Birmingham NEC next year.

Moving from Olympia, London, where the event has been running for eight successful years, the show will also change dates and will now be held from 16-18 April 2015.

Sponsored by, Who Do You Think You Are? Live helps genealogy enthusiasts of all levels to uncover their roots, bringing together informative workshops, experts from the major subscription sites, museums, archives, specialist exhibitors and the largest gathering of family history societies.

Andy Healy, Show Director, commented: “We are delighted to be bringing Who Do You Think You Are? Live to this world-class venue. This move will allow us to take advantage of the NEC’s excellent facilities and transport links and will help us to add real value to the show, opening it up to exhibitors and visitors across the whole country, giving more people than ever the chance to unravel their family history.

David Gallagher, the NEC’s New Business Development Manager, added: “The NEC is a natural home for a show of this scale and we consistently deliver the right audience for the right show. Our location, as well as the venue’s size and flexibility, will be key to delivering the audience the organisers are after, and our Research & CRM team backed this up with their research findings which told us that over six million people fitting their specific visitor profile were situated within just two hours’ drive time of the NEC.”

Who Do You Think You Are? Live is based on the popular television programme, produced by Wall To Wall (a Warner Bros. Television Productions UK company), which will celebrate its 100th episode later this year. To date, the series has seen celebrities including Marianne Faithfull, Patrick Stewart, Nigella Lawson, J.K. Rowling and Sebastian Coe trace their family trees to discover the secrets and surprises from their past.

Immediate owns a majority share in Who Do You Think You Are? Live and has managed the show since November 2010. The 2014 event ran from 20-22 February, attracting around 14,000 visitors. It was announced in February that Who Do You Think You Are? Live is to launch in Glasgow at the SECC from 29-31 August 2014 as part of the Homecoming Scotland celebrations, marking the first time the event has been held outside of London.

About Who Do You Think You Are? Live:
Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015, sponsored by, is taking place at the Birmingham NEC from 16-18 April 2015. Immediate Media Co owns a majority share in Who Do You Think You Are? Live and manages the live event.

About Immediate Media Co:
Immediate Media Co, the specialist interest content and platform company, creates compelling content on platforms that enhances the way people engage with what they love. With an exciting mix of market-leading brands, great talent and technology expertise, Immediate, one of the biggest consumer media businesses in the UK and the third largest magazine publisher, combines its reputation for editorial quality with an integrated approach to delivering multi-platform content.

Its wholly owned brands include Radio Times, olive, Homes & Antiques and highly successfully digital brands including, and It publishes BBC Top Gear, BBC Good Food, and BBC EasyCook on behalf of BBC Worldwide as well as BBC History, BBC Gardeners’ World, BBC Focus and the CBeebies portfolio, under licence. It publishes Lonely Planet Traveller magazine for LPG Inc.

With 850 staff in London and Bristol, Immediate has over 1 million subscribers, a brand reach of over 25 million UK consumers and revenues of £150m per annum. It is owned by Exponent Private Equity.

Follow us on Twitter @Immediate_Media

About the NEC:
The NEC - where brands are born, products are launched and networks are made - occupies a 610 acre site in the borough of Solihull (just eight miles from Birmingham City Centre) and welcomes around 2.1 million visitors each year to over 500 events.

The UK’s number one venue offers unrivalled connectivity and flexibility with more than 186,000 square metres of covered exhibition space through 34 conference suites and 20 interconnecting halls, in addition to over 160 acres of hard standing ground and 75 acres of woodland. 

Situated at the heart of the national motorway network and physically linked to both Birmingham Airport and Birmingham International Railway Station, 75% of the UK’s population are based within a three-hour drive time of the NEC and the venue has over 16,500 car parking spaces for visitors.The proposed HS2 Birmingham Interchange, fully supported by the NEC Group, will create greater ease of access to the area (38 minute journey time between London and Birmingham) and will put in place the essential infrastructure necessary to do business effectively across the UK, Europe and beyond, while the new runway extension at Birmingham Airport - which offers 150 direct destinations and 400 one-stop connections - gives airlines the potential to offer passengers from the Midlands non-stop flights to the west coast of the USA, South Africa, the Far East and South America.

And, as the NEC site’s ‘Destination NEC’ master plan continues to progress, work is now underway on the UK’s first integrated destination leisure and entertainment complex, Resorts World Birmingham, which is due to open in Spring 2015 with the creation of 1100 new jobs, making the NEC site a 24/7 visitor destination.

Visit the NEC online: and find out what’s on at You also follow the NEC on Twitter and LinkedIn and ‘like’ the venue on Facebook.

About contains more than one billion records in collections including the most comprehensive online set of England, Wales and Scotland Censuses from 1841 to 1911, the fully searchable England and Wales Birth, Marriage and Death Indexes, the World War One British Army Service and Pension records, UK Parish Records and the British Phone Books. is the world's largest online family history resource with approximately 2.7 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 14 billion records have been added to the sites and users have created more than 60 million family trees containing more than 6 billion profiles.

In addition to its flagship site, the company operates several global Ancestry international websites along with a suite of online family history brands, including,,, and offers the AncestryDNA product, sold by its subsidiary, DNA, LLC, all of which are designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.

For further stories and updates related to family history research, you can also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

About Wall to Wall:
Wall to Wall is one of the UK's leading production companies. For over 20 years the Warner Bros. Television Productions UK-owned indie has been supplying broadcasters around the world with ground-breaking, award-winning high quality television content across many genres.

Productions range from the entertainment phenomenon and ratings winner The Voice UK to Oscar-winning feature documentary Man On Wire, BBC One hit drama New Tricks, the internationally acclaimed genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, the highly rated ITV factual format Long Lost Family, the innovative living history “House” franchise (which included1900 House1940 HouseEdwardian Country House) to single dramas - Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, the multi-award winning A Very English Marriage and multi Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy nominated The Girl.

Wall to Wall’s productions have won almost every major international television award and it regularly tops UK trade magazine polls as the company rated most highly by its peers; subsequently attracting the top talent from across the industry.

Wall to Wall is part of Warner Bros. Television Productions UK. All Wall to Wall’s programme and format sales are handled by Warner Bros. International Television Production.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Big Y coupon codes

Important update
I have a received a small quantity of additional coupon codes for the Big Y test. As it's getting close to bedtime here in the UK I've passed all the codes on to Charles Moore, admin of the U106 Project. If you still need a code Charles might just have some left. To benefit from the sale price all orders need to be placed by midnight Texas time today (18th June).

Family Tree DNA have kindly passed on to me three spare coupon codes entitling the user to an additional $100 off the Big Y test in the current Father's Day sale. These are single-use codes which are being offered on a first-come first-served basis. If you are able to use one of the codes let me know either by sending me an e-mail or adding a comment below so that I can cross the code off the list.


I now have five additional coupon codes. All five have now been taken:


I've received three more unused codes but all of these have now been taken:


I might still be able to get more codes so do check back later. If anyone has any available codes do let me know so that I can post them here so that they are not wasted. The Big Y sale ends at midnight Houston time tonight.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Genetic genealogy hits the big time! Family Tree DNA are the first DNA company to pass the one million milestone

Family Tree DNA have announced that they have reached a significant milestone and have now processed over one million DNA tests for genealogy and anthropology purposes. This figure includes tests sold by Family Tree DNA as well as tests processed by FTDNA for the National Geographic's Genographic Project. This significant milestone was achieved in the current Father's Day sale during which the Family Finder test has been on offer at the lowest ever price of $79 (£47). FTDNA are the first DNA testing company to break through the one million milestone.

FTDNA also passed another major milestone in the last week which seems to have been completely unheralded. It was noted on 7th June that they had over half a million Y-DNA records in their database, though the exact date when this milestone was achieved is not known. FTDNA also have the honour of holding the world's largest repository of full mitochondrial sequences with the total currently standing at 39,518.

Family Tree DNA were founded in the year 2000. It took nine years for them to process 500,000 kits. This milestone was achieved in February 2009. It's taken just over five years to add the next half million tests. I wonder how long it will take to reach the two million milestone.

The other big two DNA companies, 23andMe and AncestryDNA, have also recently passed significant milestones. 23andMe now have over 700,000 "genotyped customers", and will surely pass the one million mark some time later this year. AncestryDNA announced in April that they had now genotyped over 400,000 members, which is a very impressive number considering that their test is only sold in the US.

The full press release from Family Tree DNA can be seen below.

Family Tree DNA Reaches a Historic Milestone: Over 1,000,000 DNA Tests Processed (via PRWeb)
Family Tree DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene by Gene and the world leader in the field, announced today that it has processed over 1,000,000 DNA test kits results for genealogy and anthropology purposes. Houston, TX (PRWEB) June 12, 2014 This…