The BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? has highlighted how popular researching family history has become. This week there’s a chance to start your investigations, says Chris Penhall

With the huge success of the BBC TV series, Who Do You Think You Are?, which follows celebrities such as Jeremy Clarkson and Moira Stewart as they trace their family trees, the BBC Essex Family History Event on December 5 is already proving popular.

In conjunction with Essex Record Office, Essex Society for Family History, and Essex Libraries, BBC Essex are offering free computer based training sessions which aim to set members of the public off on the trail of their own ancestry.

Lynne Wilson, acting editor of BBC Essex, says:“ The TV series has shown how exciting and emotional tracing your past can be. We know people have been inspired by what they have seen and we are able to bring together experts to help people take the first steps tracing their family history.”

The event is being held at the BBC Essex headquarters in Chelmsford, and training sessions have to be booked in advance.

As well as an introduction to researching family history, there will be opportunities to talk to others who have already undertaken research and find out their stories.

How would you feel if you discovered that one of your antecedents had been transported to Australia, escaped back to England, only to be recaptured and transported again?

Or you could discover a particular connection, such as the dog-groomer who traced her love of dogs back to the man who reared and cared for a famous pack of hunting beagles in Coggeshall.

According to Eric Probert of Essex Society for Family History, “Whether you are an absolute beginner or well advanced with your research, there is a wealth of knowledge and practical experience available. We can set you on your way with books, magazines, family history indexes and other sources.”

So, if you think, why am I like this? Where did my name come from? Or what were my family like?, then take the first steps on the road to discovery and trace your family tree.

There are still a few places available on the event. For more information, call..

For more information on family history, log on to bbc.co.uk/family history, which features interactive guidance and tips on where to look and how to interpret the wealth of information available.