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Cardiff academic helps Hollywood star trace family tree

21 August 2015

Jane Seymour with Professor Hanna Diamond
Jane Seymour with Professor Hanna Diamond

Academic from Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages contributes to major BBC programme

Professor Hanna Diamond, who lectures in French at Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages, has helped Hollywood actress Jane Seymour trace her ancestry as part of the BBC’s flagship genealogy programme ‘Who do you think you are?’.

Professor Diamond’s research is concerned with the social and cultural history of France during the Second World War. Author of Fleeing Hitler: France 1940 (OUP 2007), Professor Diamond also curates a website telling the stories of families that fled Occupied Europe making her a well-placed commentator to contribute to the programme in Paris.

There, she met Jane Seymour, best known for her role as Bond girl Solitaire in the 1973 film Live and Let Die - to discuss the actress’s family’s escape from Nazi occupied Poland in the early 1940s.

Seymour whose real name is Frankenburg, was brought up in London - the daughter of a Dutch mother and Polish Jewish father. The programme, which aired on BBC 1 on Thursday 20 August 2015, explored the stories of Seymour’s paternal great aunts Jadinga and Michaela, who were forced to flee Warsaw, Poland during the German occupation.

Seymour’s family was sadly dispersed across Europe and, in 1940, Michaela found herself escaping again, this time with three quarters of the population of Paris who fled when the Nazi’s invaded the country. Professor Diamond explains on screen what would have happened to Seymour’s relatives during this time.

Speaking of her involvement in the programme Professor Diamond said, “I really enjoyed the chance to meet Jane Seymour in Paris and to talk to her about her family, whose experiences give us a stark sense of how European Jews struggled to survive during the Second World War.”

Who do you think you are?’ is available to watch or download on BBC I player – (28 minutes in).