HAMPSHIRE actress Amanda Holden has discovered her family roots lie in France after an ancestor met and married a French girl in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars.

Amanda made the discovery while researching her family history for a BBC Who Do You Think You Are? programme to screened tomorrow.

The actress was delighted to find out that her great-great-great-great-great-grandfather met and married a lady in the Bordeaux region of France where his regiment had been posted after Napoleon’s defeat.

Collin Thomas broke his apprenticeship at 15 as a shoe-maker in Cornwall to join the Royal Marines, was jailed for the then offence, but later joined the Duke of Wellington’s Peninsular Army who fought their way into southern France in 1814.

It was while in the town of Caudrot in the wine-making region of Bordeaux that he met Radegonde Charbonnel and they married.

Collin deserted the army to stay with his new wife, Amanda learns in the programme.

“It must have been for love, which is incredible. I am such a romantic,” commented Amanda. “I just think what a gorgeous man to follow his heart.”

The couple had children in France but returned to live in Cornwall.

Amanda was brought up in Hampshire and, with her sister Debbie, was raised by her mother Judy and step-dad Frank.

Of the BBC programme she told the Daily Echo: “It was a real revelation.

“Everyone says ‘I do not see the point of crying’ but I was in tears for all of it. It was such a wonderful project to be part of.

Having learnt about her French links Amanda says she is preparing for a visit to the Bordeaux region with her own family husband Chris Hughes a music producer and daughters Lexi, 10, and four-year-old Hollie.

The programme shows on BBC 1 at 8pm this Thursday.

Amanda is currently preparing for her role as the Fairy Godmother in the pantomime Cinderella at the London Palladium which runs from December 10 for five weeks.

The star will then return to her re-staging of the tap-dancing drama Stepping Out which opens for a West end run at the Vaudeville Theatre in march of next year.