Airdate: DNA Nation

SBS has confirmed the dates for its landmark new doco DNA Nation, featuring Julia Zemiro, Ian Thorpe and Ernie Dingo.

The series by Blackfella Films sees all three travel from Australia to Africa in a scientific search for ancestral beginnings.

SBS Director of Television and Online Content Marshall Heald said: “DNA Nation is a groundbreaking series that could change the way we think about ourselves, the world and what it means to be Australian. Could it be that we’re not who we think we are?

“The quest to understand what makes us who we are is a fundamental human need. As Australia’s multicultural broadcaster, SBS is uniquely placed to explore and challenge our concepts of identity.

“From our eye-opening flagship documentary DNA Nation, to the abundance of cross-platform content, ‘SBS Explores Identity’ will examine the topic from all angles.”

Who are we? And where do we come from? As a multicultural nation, there is an ongoing discussion about what it means to be Australian today.

From 15 May to 5 June, ‘SBS Explores Identity’ will examine what makes us who we are – from genetics to our cultural roots, from our shared passions to our individual identities – with flagship documentary, DNA Nation, at the centre.

Produced by Blackfella Films (First Contact, Redfern Now), DNA Nation follows one of Australia’s greatest Olympians Ian Thorpe, iconic Indigenous actor Ernie Dingo, and TV presenter and Queen of Eurovision Julia Zemiro as they set off on an epic journey of genetic time travel to find out where they – and the rest of us – come from.

DNA is the instruction manual that helps build and run our bodies. But it also contains a series of genetic route maps that can trace our mother’s mother’s mother and our father’s father’s father, and so on, back through tens of millennia, revealing how our ancestors migrated out of Africa and went on to populate the rest of the world.

As Ian, Ernie and Julia follow in the footsteps of their ancient ancestors, they are guided by some of the world’s leading experts in genetics, anthropology and archaeology.

They experience life as hunter-gatherers in Tanzania, dig for fossils in the Arabian desert, ride horseback in Kyrgyzstan, and take to the high seas in Timor Leste, discovering the remarkable journeys each of their ancestors made from Africa to Australia over 200,000 years ago.

While Ian, Ernie and Julia embark on their globe-trotting adventure, the documentary also presents a genetic census conducted using DNA donated by everyday Australians, from six distinct ethnic groups — Greek, Chinese, Anglo-Celtic, Indian, Lebanese and First Nations Australians.

The census represents more than 90 per cent of Australia’s population, and delivers a snapshot of the nation’s genetic ancestry. It’s the first survey of its kind, and the results will help reveal the hidden story of our identity.

Begins 8.30pm Sunday 22 May on SBS.

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