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Rick Stein

Rick sets out to explore the life of his father, Eric, who tragically took his own life in the 1960s. He traces the causes of his father's manic depression, exploring the racial abuse he suffered as a child during the First World War due to his German ancestry, and the electric shock therapy he received as an adult.

Before marrying Eric, Rick's mother Dorothy had a brief marriage to a man she met while studying at Cambridge University. Rick researches his mother's early life and her time at Newnham College, Cambridge. He explores the story of her first marriage, and talks to his half-brother Jeremy, the child Dorothy was sadly forced to leave behind when she married Eric.

Finally, Rick travels to China in the footsteps of his great-grandfather Henry Parkes, a 19th century Methodist missionary. Henry was one of the first missionaries to travel into China after the Opium Wars. Rick learns of the harsh conditions in which Henry lived and the personal tragedy he suffered.


  • 10. At 6:24pm on 19 Feb 2009, smithjoan wrote:

    I missed something when I watched WDYTYA- family HISTORY. I thought I was turning on for genealogy and this episode seemed to be about Rick's fathers illness. Interesting in a way but not what I hoped to find out about Rick Stein. There was a quick mention of Rick's German ancestry and then it was quickly glossed over. Why no dips into the census to find out when the family came over. I found the whole thing a bit disappointing, you don't need a genealogy programme to help you find out about one generation back but we do need help to trace a bit further back. WDYTYA seems to be losing it's way.

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  • 11. At 01:00am on 20 Feb 2009, Steven Thomas wrote:

    I can only agree with those who feel this series is rather disappointing.

    There has been nothing to match the sight of Jeremy Paxman shedding tears over his ancestor bringing up a brood of children alone in a Glasgow tenement block, or Ainsley Harriott's astonishment to find that he had some white ancestors.

    All in all, the series seems to have been rushed out: someone above bemoaned the lack of real research, and probably hit the nail on the head.

    Many of us have someone in our tree who lived in a workhouse or mental institution, and it would have been more instructive to cover this subject in a historical sense so that we could see how attitudes have changed.

    Focusing so heavily on Stein's father was particularly dull when he has already made a documentary about his illness. In that sense, he didn't need to answer the question posed by the programme's title.

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  • 12. At 6:01pm on 20 Feb 2009, maggie488 wrote:

    I am disappointed with the series so far. Most of us need help in finding ordinary people who lived further back than the 1900s.

    After looking forward to the series I haven't enjoyed it.

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  • 13. At 02:27am on 26 Feb 2009, philliplederer wrote:

    I wondered why the family's German ancestry was ignored. Why did his great grand father Julius emigrate? I think too much time was spent on his father's mental illness.

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