Downton star Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop discover surprising family ties in ITV’s DNA Journey

Actor Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop became friends during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Actor Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop (Getty Images)Actor Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop (Getty Images)
Actor Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop (Getty Images)

Actor Hugh Bonneville and comedian John Bishop have discovered a surprising family link after appearing in a television programme together.

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville, 59, from London, and John Bishop, 56, from Liverpool, struck up a friendship during lockdown after a chance encounter in a Covid vaccination centre.

The pair have now discovered they are closer than first thought after delving into their ancestral past on ITV’s DNA Journey.

Hugh’s ancestor had a family bakery and worked doors apart from John’s relative, who owned a music shop on Capel Street, Dublin.

Both men were part of the trade union, and it is believed they marched together through the streets of Dublin in support of workers’ rights.

After finding out the news, John said: “I thought it was a coincidence that you were at the vaccine centre.

“To find out that generations before, our ancestors were working within 30 yards of each other... then to discover they were on a march together on the same day that started the path for discussions for Irish independence... staggering.”

Hugh added: “That is quite spooky. It’s the sliding doors of fate and time.

“Not only are we friends, but I’d like to think that Andrew and John were friends back in the day.”

During the episode, Hugh uncovers the past of his three times removed great grandfather who worked at London’s Somerset House and was a naval architect - helping to make working conditions better for sailors.

John delves deeper into his Irish roots before discovering one of his ancestors Patrick Reardon made the journey from his home country of Ireland to Liverpool and set up a business in the salt industry.

Adrian Dunbar, Neil Morrisey, Alex Brooker, Johnny Vegas and Oti and Motsi Mabuse are all set to feature in the new series of DNA Journey.

DNA Journey returns on ITV1 and ITVX for a fourth series on Tuesday 7 March.