Una Stubbs talks to TV Times about taking part in Who Do You Think You Are? and how her great-grandfather changed the world…
Your great-grandfather Sir Ebenezer Howard was the visionary behind the garden city movement. That’s not something many people would know…
“I was always shy about telling my friends that my great-grandfather was a ‘Sir’. In conversation it would have been: ‘Oh my grandfather, Sir Ebenezer Howard’. You just don’t do that, do you? I am proud of what he achieved but also just as proud of him as a person. What a great man to have worked all those years to help other people out of squalor.”
How did you get into performing?
“My parents sent me to dancing because I was so hopeless at school.”
What else did you find out?
“The reason I signed up for the show is because I wanted to learn more about my grandparents. My father Clarence Stubbs never introduced me, my sister Claire or brother Paul, to his parents or even talked about them. My mother wasn’t a very sociable person so we didn’t have family gatherings or anything, so I didn’t know anything about them.”
What did you find?
“I visited a cousin on my dad’s side who knew them and finally learned their names, Annie and Arthur. They were larger-than-life characters, and they believed that Una’s mother, Angela, who was quite shy, felt overwhelmed by them, which is why contact was severed. I would have loved to have known my granny. I’m so sorry I didn’t meet her. I know I’d have loved her. We just assumed that she and my grandpa were maybe dead. When we were filming I was given me a photograph of them. I kept on looking at it and I felt a great love for them, which is so strange from a photograph. As soon as we finished filming, I bought the most beautiful frame I could find and now they are framed on my mantelpiece.”
And your grandfather?
“I was amazed to discover the coincidence that Arthur worked for chocolate manufacturers Rowntrees as I was the face of Dairy Box in the 1950s.”
Are you looking forward to the new series of Sherlock?
“Yes, when you’re on a third series of something, you become very fond of the people you’re working with, especially if they are as lovely as they are. I’ve known Benedict since he was a toddler because I worked with his mum, the actress Wanda Ventham, and we also lived near each other when our children were small. We’d bump into each other in the high street and the poor children had to stand there while we gossiped!”
Who Do You Think You Are? starts on Wednesday July 24 at 9pm on BBC1