Kate Winslet proves she is 'not posh' on Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are? Kate Winslet
(Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Stephen Perry)

Kate Winslet on uncovering Swedish roots and tales of poverty and prison in tonight's Who Do You Think You Are?

After looking into her family tree for Who Do You Think You Are? Kate Winslet has dispelled commonly-held assumptions that she comes from well-to-do stock.

“I ain’t posh mate,” laughed the Oscar-winning star (opens in new tab). “I was born in Reading and my parents never had money. It was always a struggle. Our family of six lived in a rented home. My dad Roger, an actor, always had to get whatever odd job he could. So I’m not posh at all!”

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And, as she explored her ancestry, Kate discovered that those humble roots go back several generations. Looking into her late mother’s Sally’s ancestry, she learnt that her family came from Sweden. When she visited the country for Who Do You Think You Are?, she heard that her maternal four-times great-grandfather Anders Jönsson was caught stealing and died in prison in the 1830s.

“It's very sad," she said. “He stole because he was starving and he was doing the right thing for his family. But his son Johan, my great-great-great-grandfather, would only have been five then, the same age as Bear, my youngest child. I couldn't stand the thought of Bear being without his dad.”

MORE: Jack Whitehall finds a ‘scumbag’ ancestor in Who Do You Think You Are? (opens in new tab)

Meanwhile, on her father’s side, Kate found out that her three-times great-grandfather William Colquhoun joined the Grenadier Guards in London as a drummer in 1810, when he was just 11.

“I wondered whether that was even allowed at that age!’” she laughed. “But I loved that he was making something of his life through hard work and musical talent. I can barely play a recorder!”

After delving into her roots, Kate Winslet admitted that she now feels closer to her heritage.

“I felt a connection to the ancestors I learnt about,” she said. “It makes me feel as though I fit somewhere more. Knowing where I came from is wonderful. I always strive to remain grounded and to pass that on to my kids. But maybe because I come from such beginnings, that is actually in my DNA.”

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on Monday 12 August BBC1 9pm

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.