Richard Osman discovers ancestor formed a detective group

The Thursday Murder Club author Richard Osman discovers his ancestor formed an amateur detective group to solve a real-life killing – just like his book

  • Richard Osman’s novel The Thursday Murder Club mirrors his family history 
  • Presenter’s four-times great-grandfather discovered dead body in 1800s
  • Gabriel Gilliam formed detective group and was involved in big murder trial
  • They say the truth is stranger than fiction – but Richard Osman’s debut novel unwittingly mirrors a story straight out of his family archive. 

    The Thursday Murder Club follows a group of friends in a retirement village as they investigate unsolved crimes. 

    But the TV presenter recently found out his ancestor formed a detective group to solve a real-life murder centuries before he wrote his book. 

    Osman’s four-times great-grandfather discovered a dead body and became involved in one of the biggest murder trials of the 1800s.

    Gabriel Gilliam, a fisherman born in Brighton in 1789, would secretly smuggle food for his family. 

    Osman, 51, made the discovery during an upcoming episode of BBC1 show Who Do You Think You Are? 

    Richard Osman (pictured on BBC's Graham Norton Show), 51, made the discovery that his debut novel unwittingly mirrors a story straight out of his family archive during an upcoming episode of BBC1 show Who Do You Think You Are?

    Richard Osman (pictured on BBC’s Graham Norton Show), 51, made the discovery that his debut novel unwittingly mirrors a story straight out of his family archive during an upcoming episode of BBC1 show Who Do You Think You Are?

    He told the Radio Times: ‘Given the books I write, you just couldn’t make it up! ‘It was extraordinary to discover that Gabriel Gillam formed an amateur gang of detectives. It felt like it would make a good Sunday night TV drama. There are a million stories about the British upper class, from Downton to Bridgerton, but very few about poor communities.’ 

    The Thursday Murder Club was published in September 2020 and quickly became a best-seller. 

    The global film rights were bought by Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment. A sequel, The Man Who Died Twice, arrived in September last year.

    The Thursday Murder Club follows a group of friends in a retirement village as they investigate unsolved crimes. But the TV presenter recently found out his ancestor formed a detective group to solve a real-life murder centuries before he wrote his book

    The Thursday Murder Club follows a group of friends in a retirement village as they investigate unsolved crimes. But the TV presenter recently found out his ancestor formed a detective group to solve a real-life murder centuries before he wrote his book

    Last month, Osman announced he is stepping back from BBC game show Pointless after nearly 13 years ‘to concentrate on writing’. 

    He co-hosted more than 1,300 episodes with Alexander Armstrong. 

    Osman will continue to present Pointless Celebrities and his BBC Two show Richard Osman’s House Of Games. 

    His episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is due to air on June 9 on BBC1.