To claim someone has 'Viking ancestors' is no better than astrology
Last week we were told that Eddie Izzard is a Viking descendant on his mother's side and an Anglo-Saxon on his father's. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA
Exaggerated claims from genetic ancestry testing companies undermine serious research into human genetic history
You may have missed the latest genetic discovery. As reported by The Daily Telegraph on Friday: "One million British men may be directly descended from the Roman legions". The story reappeared on Sunday, at the Who Do You Think You Are – Live event at London's Olympia, when it was repeated by Alistair Moffatt, the managing director of BritainsDNA, the company behind the claims.
Such stories are becoming increasingly common in newspapers, on television and radio. Last week on the BBC miniseries Meet the Izzards we were told that Eddie Izzard is a Viking descendant on his mother's side and an Anglo-Saxon descendant on his father's. Last year the Observer reported that Tom Conti has Saracen origins and is a relative of Napoleon Bonaparte.