Boris Johnson, Fop or Geneticist?

boris johnsonFor Scousers, Londoners, fans of BBC’s Have I Got News for You satirical news quiz, and especially to everyone who watched this Beijing to London Olympic handover this week the name Boris Johnson likely drums up an image of some blonde, floppy haired, bedraggled and totally confused Tory toff, who just happens to be Mayor of London.

Well, it turns out that he has quite an interesting ancestry of which he was almost totally unaware until another BBC TV show (Who Do You Think You Are?, which is all about family history and genealogy of the rich and famous) helped him dig deep into the roots of his family tree. First off, not only was his great grandfather, Ali Kemal an outspoken journalist turned politician (like Johnson) who was apparently lynched by the state in the founding years of modern Turkey but his great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was King George II of England (illegitimately due to a “wrong-side-of-the-sheets liaison between Johnson’s great grandmother and a descendant of George II. Such ancestry means Johnson is related to all the royal families of Europe.

How’s that for a bit of name dropping? Of course, there are probably tens of thousands of people who have illegitimate links to European royals, but it’s an interesting find nevertheless.

However, for those who think Johnson is nothing more than a blithering fop, it was his final words in this episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” that were most poignant to lineage, heredity and most of all genetics, which is why I thought they warranted a holiday mention. I just hope they were spontaneous and unscripted.

We’re all just great, our genes just pulse down the lines. We’re not the ultimate expression of our genes. We’re the temporary custodians of these things. We don’t really know where they’ve come from, where they’re going, and the whole process is incredibly democratic.

You can view a segment from the show here, unfortunately, the closing quote is not included in this Youtube segment.

UPDATE: Following on from Mr Johnson’s genetic insights, I see there’s a paper in this week’s Nature from Cornell researchers that says: “One day soon, you may be able to pinpoint the geographic origins of your ancestors based on analysis of your DNA. The researchers describe the use of DNA to predict the geographic origins of individuals from a sample of Europeans, often within a few hundred kilometres of where they were born.”

Novembre, J et al (2008). Genes mirror geography within Europe Nature

7 thoughts on “Boris Johnson, Fop or Geneticist?”

  1. He’s not the smartest of chaps. Our media was full of the alleged fact that Beijing thought his unkemptness was disrespectful during the Olympic hand over.

  2. Yes, I don’t think he’s was suggesting there was a postal vote. He certainly always looks confused. He’s pretty famous in the UK though has been for years because he was an outspoken politician-journalist and is now Mayor of London ;-)

  3. hey i know this guy! He grabbed that flag of bit O! :)

    and why I can’t construct such good English…

    Nature decide which trait to be passed down by incredibly democratic way? Was he talking about natural selection?

  4. “…the whole process is incredibly democratic.”

    Well, that’s rather nice. Where do I to vote? There are a few genes I’d like booted from office.

  5. I saw this chap on at the closing ceremony of the Olympics last night and he looked a bit confused as he accepted the flag for the next games in London. However, he seems authentic and perhaps not as drippy as he looks if that little quote was really his. Often with toffs, there is a strange humility born from the naivety there upbringing affords them, and as we know, there is no substitute for naivety is a basis for innovative thought.

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