I’m A Celebrity’s Dec has discovered a secret family he never knew existed – not up north in his native Newcastle upon Tyne but across the pond in the USA.
Declan Donnelly admitted to feeling very emotional when he had chance to meet the new relatives for the first time.
He and on-screen co-host Anthony McPartlin have been delving into their family history for a new ITV series, Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey.
Dec was stunned when he discovered more than a dozen cousins he never knew about before.
Whilst the pair were in New York researching the programme, they were told there had been a DNA match for Dec and he was off to meet his cousin Meg and her husband Greg in Connecticut.
The affluent American couple provided transportation to their impressive home via one of their fleet of helicopters and as Ant and Dec arrived, they were greeted by a gigantic banner on the lawn, welcoming their cousin Dec, reports the Mirror
Meg told him: “My dad passed aged 63 and all his brothers passed as well.
“So, I didn’t really get to know much about him – it’s nice to finally have a little bit of my dad back.
“It’s been kind of cool, especially for our kids.”
Dec replied: “I’m similar, I lost my dad in 2011 and you realise it’s gone forever.”
Meg then explained: “This is what we’ve found out so far, we have the same great, great grandparents.”
Dec added: “That’s incredible, that would be our common ancestor.”
Meg then revealed: “I have a little surprise for you, I have a few of your cousins here,” and more than a dozen people then came into the room.
Dec said: “Oh wow, this is amazing. I’m really emotional. Oh my goodness. Nice to meet you all…This is quite overwhelming!”
He then quipped: “All those Irish Catholics had lots of children, didn’t they?”
Dec met another cousin called Tom who was a firefighter in New York and was on duty during 9/11.
Later, Dec admitted to Ant on the programme that his “mind is blown” from meeting his new family.
Elsewhere in the programme, Ant discovered pain and sadness in his family tree linked to his beloved nan Kitty, back in her native Ireland.
Previously his family knew nothing of her early life, after she moved to the England from Fermoy, County Cork when she was 12 or 13 years old.
He learned that Kitty’s mum, his great-grandmother, died of tuberculosis two years after Kitty’s birth and not during childbirth as was once thought.
Genealogy expert Anne-Marie Coghlan said: “What happened was Mary actually died of tuberculosis.
“It was the shame of the family so it would be concealed in the records. It’s very, very sad.”
Kitty’s older brother Michael died aged eight of whooping cough but Kitty had thought he emigrated to America.
Anne-Marie explained: “She was a very little girl when Michael died, she would have been about six (years old), so it is possible the family didn’t want to break the news to her of the death of her brother, so they made up a story that he’d gone away and emigrated.”
Ant says of Kitty’s life: “So much pain for this young girl. Thank you very much, this is invaluable to my family, especially to my mother and her sisters and brother.
“It’s information that they’ve been dying to know for years. You’ve really brought her to life with this, thank you.
“I loved her so much I’ve got nothing but fond memories of her.”
After this series airs, Ant and Dec head out to Australia for the new series of I’m A Celebrity.
Ant & Dec’s DNA Journey is on Sunday November 10 and Monday November 11 at 9pm on ITV