Now there’s something I missed doing when I went to India – teaching a class of very cute primary school kids, all in smart uniforms, to say “Hello, our kid”. Why did I not think of that?! This half-hour programme, the first in a series of six, was a strange combination of Who Do You Think You Are?, Long Lost Family, The Jeremy Kyle Show and a travel programme, but it worked pretty well, probably because the three lads and their dad all came across as such likeable characters. I’m extremely sad that none of us will be travelling to Mumbai, or even to Muncaster, Malham, Matlock or Morecambe, any time soon, and am actually still struggling to take that in; but we can look at film of the Gateway of India, which I’ve always wanted to see, and of wonderful, colourful, crowded Indian food markets, and hope that better times come again soon. Meanwhile, this programme was genuinely entertaining.
The idea of this programme was that the three lookalike Thomas brothers, Ryan (Jason from Coronation Street), Adam (Adam from Emmerdale and Donte from Waterloo Road) and Scott (who was in Love Island), along with their dad Dougie (whom they all look like!) were visiting Mumbai, where Dougie’s dad Nolan came from. Nolan Thomas moved to Manchester around the time of Indian independence, and seemed to have lost touch with his family back in Bombay/Mumbai.
None of the three lads had ever been to India before, and they didn’t really seem to know much about it, so it was partly a connecting-with-your-heritage trip. Inevitably, there were a load of jokes about not being able to cope with the hot curries, but they also enjoyed seeing the sights, especially the gorgeous markets. It was also partly a family bonding trip. Dougie had split from the boys’ mother when they were young, and had very little contact with them for several years after that, and they were very open about the fact that they’d effectively grown up without a dad, and that Ryan had been more like a dad to his younger brothers than Dougie had. They all seemed to be getting on pretty well, but there were obviously some wounds that ran deep there.
However, the main aim was to try to find out more about Nolan Thomas, who’d been very close to Dougie but had died when the three lads were very small, and to see if they could find any relatives still living in Mumbai. I’d really like to have known more about the family background, and am hoping that that’s coming in the later episodes. It was clear from what they said that he was ethnically Indian, but “Nolan Thomas” is hardly a typical Mumbai name, and (being nosy!) I’m hoping we’ll find out more about his family history.
They found out that he’d worked at the Times of India, which sounded exciting. And they found out which school he’d gone to, and that one of the teachers there had known his brother. So they went to visit the school … and that was where the lesson in Mancunian dialect came in! They also met a little girl there whose surname was also Thomas, and whom they assumed was a relative. But they didn’t go into how they might be related, and we haven’t yet really found out very much about Nolan Thomas and his Mumbai family at all … but, with five more episodes to come, hopefully we will.
This was really good fun. I didn’t know if it might end up being a bit too stag party-ish or Jeremy Kyle-ish, but they all came across very well and it was genuinely entertaining. I’m hoping we learn more about both Mumbai and the family history in the episodes to come, and I’ll certainly be tuning in to find out.