by LAUREN CODLING
A CELEBRITY family revisiting their Indian roots will see them tackle “unanswered questions” about their past in a new ITV show.
Brothers Scott, Ryan and Adam Thomas and their father Dougie travelled to the subcontinent to explore their Indian heritage in Absolutely India: Mancs in Mumbai.
The family, who are from Manchester, visited the beaches in Goa, sampled spicy ‘fire paan’ in Mumbai and learnt Bollywood dancing with local children in Dharavi, the largest slum in the country.
But in addition to enjoying the local attractions, the trip to India also saw the family come closer. When the siblings were children, Dougie left the family when their mother remarried. The brothers lost touch with their father for six years – and were left with many unanswered questions.
Scott, who was 12 when his father returned to their lives, admitted the trip was a chance to fully reconcile as a family.
“He is my dad and I love him to pieces, but at the same time, there was a lot of stuff that we hadn’t ever really touched on,” Scott told Eastern Eye. “We tackled some questions over there and we got the answers and closure that we needed.
“There was no better place to do it than when we were exploring our heritage in such a special place.”
The trip also saw them reconnect with distant members of the family in India, including their cousin Keshia. When they were met her, they found out she worked in the entertainment industry and sang soul music at local venues.
Dougie is a professional soul singer and was part of music group Soul Train in the 1970s. The brothers all have established careers in the media too – actors Ryan and Adam are known for their roles on Coronation Street and Emmerdale, respectively, while Scott was a contestant on Love Island in 2015.
“The Thomas gene is strong,” Scott laughed. “We couldn’t believe it (when we met her). It just shows you that no matter where in the world we are, the Thomas family always want to be on stage.”
In addition to meeting their extended family, they also retraced the steps of Dougie’s father Nolan, who immigrated to England from Mumbai in 1947. They visited the home where Nolan grew up, his old
school and the church where he was baptised.
Although the brothers had known their grandfather was from India, Scott admitted that they hadn’t fully comprehended what it meant. He said he had always been keen to find out more about their family history and where they had come from.
“My grandad never really talked about India that much,” Scott revealed. “There was so much we didn’t know so we wanted to explore it. The trip made so much sense to us on a deeper level as a family.”
As well as investigating the origins of their family, the trip saw the brothers experience India for the first time. Although Scott admitted he had expected Mumbai to be busy, he was still surprised by how fast-paced it was.
“It definitely lived up to my expectations,” he joked. “I’ve never seen so many people. It makes London look like a stroll in the park.”
Interacting with the locals was a particular highlight for Scott. He praised the friendliness and generosity of everyone he encountered, and admitted it was the one aspect of the adventure that “really stood out to (him)”.
When meeting children from the Dharavi slums in Mumbai, he noted how hospitable they were, despite their circumstances. “That was one of my favourite parts of the trip – that we were in the slums with these people who had nothing but they were so happy and welcoming us into their homes,” he recalled. “I’ve never seen kids like that – full of smiles and happiness.
“It really hit home where we were and what we were doing.”
Back home in the UK, Scott is currently self-isolating in Manchester in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, his family are never far from his thoughts, he revealed.
Since meeting his Indian relatives, the family have set up a WhatsApp group called the Thomas Indians. They chat on a daily basis, according to Scott.
The trip has also strengthened the relationship between the brothers and their father. “It’s such a special thing that we went through together. I think it reinforces the Thomas bond that we’ve got with each other,” Scott said. “My brothers are my best mates but going on that trip and experiencing what we did is something that we’ll share forever. It was a special time and has made us even stronger.”
The next episode of Absolutely India: Mancs in Mumbai will air on Wednesday (6) at 8pm on ITV. Previous episodes of the show are available to stream on ITV Player.