Hello, Danny Dyer, it turns out that I’m your distant cousin

Danny Dyer appeared on Who Do You Think You Are? and found out he was a direct descendant of Edward

Danny Dyer appeared on Who Do You Think You Are? and found out he was a direct descendant of Edward III. Picture Wall to Wall/Steven Perry - Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall/Steven Perry

Having never knowingly passed up the chance to name drop, I feel I must mention that when I was school librarian, supervising private study periods, the author and presenter of BBC Radio 4's Inside Science, Adam Rutherford, was one of my sixth-formers.

And this week he revealed that I am almost certainly descended from Edward III... as nearly all of us are.

It seems Adam's curiosity was aroused when Danny Dyer, who had his ancestry traced on the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?, was told he was a descendant of said 14th century English king. The EastEnders actor responded to this bombshell by proclaiming he would treat himself to 'a massive ruff'. A nice thought, although ruffs weren't really the fashion in the 1300s. More of a Tudor thing. Of course, unlike me Mr Dyer was also found to be related to the Bullivants of Norwich, the Gosnolds of Otley Hall, the Tollemaches of Helmingham Hall and Thomas Cromwell of Wolf Hall (little joke)... though Uncle Tom Cobley was nowhere to be seen.

Having noted the Edward III link, Adam decided to look into the genetics of the matter. He and his colleagues at UCL computed the likelihood of anyone born in the 1970s not being related to Edward III. Speaking at the Chalke Valley History Festival, Adam gave the result of the calculation: 0.01 to the power of 27. I have no idea how small that is but I imagine it's more noughts to the right of the decimal point than I have room for here. I note, incidentally, there is a move to give this minus number its own designated prefix (such as micro- and giga-) and it has been suggested it should be 'hella-' which, I suppose, would make it hella-va-likely I, and most of you, are directly descended from Edward III.

As a child I often suspected I was a changeling: a princess swapped at birth with the baby daughter of a commoner. Now it turns out none of us is entirely common and no swap was necessary. Go back far enough and we all have blue blood. Only 700 years and a mere 21 generations later there will surely be a few drops left.

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