Keira Knightley: who is Pirates of the Caribbean star - and when is she on My Grandparents’ War on Channel 4?

Pirates of the Caribbean and Pride and Prejudice actress Keira Knightley will learn about the role her ancestors played in the Second World War

Actress Keira Knightley will explore the role her family played during the Second World War in the episode two of My Grandparents’ War on Channel 4. The series, which has previously featured actors including Mark Rylance, Helena Bonham Carter, and Kit Harrington researches the stars’ family histories during the global conflict.

Last week, Kit Harrington learned that his grandfather led a spy operation to surveil the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. This week, Keira Knightley will find out about her RAF great-uncle who nearly died in a bombing raid, and her Royal Navy grandfather.

Keira Knightley learns of the role her grandparents played in the Second World War

Who is Keira Knightley?

Keira Knightley is a 37 year old actress from Teddington in south west London and best known for her roles in the fantasy series Pirates of the Caribbean as well as a string of period dramas.

Her parents Will Knightley and Sharman Macdonald are both actors and from the age of three Keira was determined to follow in their footsteps. Over her career to date she has starred in more than 45 films and several television productions.


She is a strong feminist, has previously posed topless for Interview Magazine on the condition that the image wasn’t digitally altered therefore showing how women’s bodies really look. Keira revealed that she had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder when she struggled to adapt to her sudden fame at a young age.

She has been nominated for two Oscars - for Best Actress for Pride & Prejudice, and Best Supporting Actress for The Imitation Game. She has also received two Bafta nominations - for The Imitation Game and Atonement. Keira is married to musician and former member of Klaxons - the pair met in 2011 and married in 2013. They have two daughters together.

What films has Keira Knightley starred in?

Keira Knightley’s breakout role was in the 2002 sports comedy film Bend It Like Beckham when she was just 17. She then bagged a leading role in Pirates of the Caribbean and its first two sequels playing Elizabeth Swann - she returned to the franchise for a brief cameo in the fifth film Salazar’s Revenge.

She played Juliet in the now modern Christmas classic Love Actually, and the titular role in crime film Domino. Keira then went on to star in a series of period films including Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, The Duchess, and Anna Karenina.

Her more recent film roles include the 2019 biographical crime drama Official Secrets where she starred opposite Matt Smith, and Cold War film The Aftermath.


Keira’s great uncle Wilfred (left) and her grandfather Harry during their time in the Royal Navy

What did Keira Knightley find out on My Grandparents’ War?

Keira learned that her great-uncle, Andrew, was an RAF pilot and was shot down over Essen, western Germany. While the pilot was killed, the rest of the crew ejected from the plane and survived, though they were held in a prisoner of war camp for 18 months.

In the documentary, Keira reads a note from Andrew in which he expresses his feelings on being released from the camp, weighing just seven stone.

Keira’s grandfather Joseph ‘Mac’ McDonald served in the Royal Navy during the war where he worked as a sonar operator on the lookout for German U-boats.


Her maternal grandmother, Jan, worked at a military hospital in the western Highlands and it was during that time that she began dating Mac. Keira said that her grandmother did not speak about her experiences during the war, so she did not know the role that her grandparents played in the conflict.

When is My Grandparents’ War on TV?

The second episode of My Grandparents’ War will air on Thursday 22 September at 9pm on Channel 4. The first episode, featuring Game of Thrones star Kit Harrington aired last week and is available to watch on All 4 now.

Next week’s episode featuring singer Emeli Sandé will air at 8pm on Thursday 29 September.