ER and Dr Who actress Alex Kingston has “embraced her inner Jew” after tracing her family’s Jewish heritage in the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? genealogy series, screened on Wednesday.
The experience included the revelation that her Jewish great-great-grandmother had run a brothel.
Viewers saw Ms Kingston visit the Jewish Museum in north London, to learn more about immigrants arriving in the East End.
The Los Angeles-based actress worked with Hull University historian Nicholas Evans, who specialises in Jewish migrant history and has regularly helped celebrities on the series discover the truth about their backgrounds.
Ms Kingston said: “It has been a roller-coaster of a journey emotionally, but fantastic.”
Dr Evans said: “Alex always wondered whether there was any Jewish heritage or origin in the family’s past. Her maternal grandmother had always suggested there might have been, and we could prove she was right.”
Using material from sources that included the JC archives, Dr Evans was able to trace Ms Kingston’s Ashkenazi relatives back to their arrival in the East End in Georgian times.
The Braham family were members of Duke’s Place Synagogue, built near Aldgate in the late 17th century. Ms Kingston’s great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, worked in a number of jobs including peddling and running a brothel, before doing well enough to buy property overlooking the newly built London Zoo in north London.