Nigel Havers: ‘I wanted to find out I wasn’t posh!’

Nigel Havers tells TV Times magazine why he wants to be like common people ahead of his episode of Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, Weds, July 31)…

What were you hoping to uncover in your genealogy?
“I always play posh parts, so what I really hoped for is that my background wasn’t like that at all!”

We hear researchers discovered that your great, great, great grandfather, Henry, was a local entrepreneur, running a stagecoach business in Colchester…
“It was so interesting, I would have liked to have met Henry. He couldn’t read or write, he signed all his papers with an ‘X’, but he did really well running this business.”

What sort of businessman was he?
“There was a recession, which he couldn’t have predicted, the railways were knocking him out of business and he went bust, but he had the foresight to have an early insurance policy, which is fantastic. I liked him for doing what he did.”

And you followed in his footsteps when you got to go to Colchester and test-drove a horse and carriage?
“It was great! I’ve actually done a lot of drama over the years, which has involved me driving a horse and carriage, including A Passage to India, so I knew how to do it. I’ve always felt comfortable with it and now I know why – it’s in the genes!”

What was the experience of researching your family tree like for you?
“The war had ended a few years before I was born and there was still rationing going on. The world had been through a tremendous crisis and the one thing you didn’t want to do was look backwards, because all you would see was terror, death and destruction. The idea of looking up your relations that way was just not considered of any importance, the vital thing was to build a future and make a living.”

Are you glad you took part Who Do You Think You Are?
“One naturally becomes curious about one’s past and I knew nothing about my ancestors, only who my grandparents were. I love the show anyway and I genuinely think the experience has enriched my life. There’s a sort of warm feeling of happiness about the people that came before me. We share the same DNA and I feel connected to them.”