Who do you think you are?

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Kevin Whately

Kevin Whately, famous for playing working-class characters, in fact has a surprisingly affluent family history. Kevin begins his journey in his home town of Newcastle where he investigates the career of his grandmother Doris, a singer whom he believed failed to fulfil her true potential. Doris' father was the self-made 'fishing king' of the north-east and Kevin next tries to discover what became of his fortune and the business empire he built.

Delving much further back into his family history, Kevin uncovers an 18th century ancestor who was a turkey trader. Intrigued that he could descend from a 'Georgian Bernard Matthews' Kevin investigates further, but the truth he uncovers is even more surprising. The trail leads him to the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange and finally to a vast country estate in Surrey.

Kevin then pushes his family tree even further back into the 17th century, where he's amazed to discover that his ancestors, the Thomson brothers, were amongst the richest and most powerful men of their time. Not only were they close associates of Oliver Cromwell, but their fortune, made in the new colonies of America and the West Indies, helped fund the Parliamentarians in the English Civil War.

Visit this page after the show on Monday 2nd March to find out more about Kevin's story.


    • 1. At 09:17am on 03 Mar 2009, MaggieL wrote:

      An excellent and fascinating programme. As well as being the best of the series it was probably also the cheapest as Kevin, with his producers, researchers and camera crew, didn't travel all over the world at licence fee payers expense even though there were ample excuses for him to do so.

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    • 2. At 10:23am on 03 Mar 2009, U13855951 wrote:

      Wonderful series. The BBC at its very best. Well done to all involved.

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    • 3. At 11:59am on 03 Mar 2009, U13856072 wrote:

      I agree. Last nights show (Kevin Whately) was the best by far of this series which has been a little dissapointing - spending generally far too long on just one or two generations instead of delving back into the 19th, 18th etc centuries and beyond. Kevin's fascinating story was exactly what this show should be about - teaching the viewer about history wrapped up in a family story. Kevin came over as a gracious host, shocked and surprised at his illustrious, somewhat 'posh' anscestory. Keep up the excellent work BBC - roll on the next series!

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    • 4. At 1:23pm on 03 Mar 2009, U13856237 wrote:

      I particularly enjoyed this episode because it went a long way back into Kevin's tree. The only note which jarred was the hint of inverse snobbery - what's wrong with being middle class, even if you are a self-proclaimed leftie? Sue Johnston seemed to have the same problem in a previous series.

      It was good to have an episode mainly UK based and to see what non-internet resources are available without having to travel vast distances.

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    • 5. At 6:58pm on 04 Mar 2009, U13858729 wrote:

      The programme didn't mention that Kevin's ancestor Thomas ('Turkey Merchant') Whately was also an MP (for Luggershall, Wiltshire) which was not unusual for a rich man in those days. However, the electorate was only 70 in number so I suspect this was one of those notorious pocket/rotten boroughs. Anyway, I doubt that Thomas would have sympathised with Kevin's avowed leftie leanings.

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    • 6. At 8:22pm on 04 Mar 2009, U13858976 wrote:

      We enjoyed every minute of this episode. By far the best of this series. Although the other stories were interesting on it's own, Kevin Whately's was real genealogy, instead of stories about grandpa, oncle etc.

      It was also nice to see that Kevin/Lewis really is from Newcastle and still proud of it.

      BBC, pls. more of this kind in your "Who do you think you are?"

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    • 7. At 1:20pm on 08 Mar 2009, U13863590 wrote:

      I turned on the TV to realize Kevin ws talking about some of my relatives - the Phillips family. My mother (now 81) remembers some of the people Kevin talked about, including Uncle Per and Kevin's mother. My mother and Kevin's are second counsins. Mum lost touch after the end of WWII - but she has some happy memories to share and I'd like to pass them on.
      Can someone at the BBC forward an email or letter to Kevin on my behalf?
      Can you tell me who to phone or contact ?

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