‘I owe it all to grandad from South Yorkshire’

Reflection: Actor Hugh Dennis, who traced his grandfather's escape from the pit thanks to education. Photo: Terry Carrott.
Reflection: Actor Hugh Dennis, who traced his grandfather's escape from the pit thanks to education. Photo: Terry Carrott.
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TV COMEDIAN and actor Hugh Dennis owes his success to his grandfather in South Yorkshire, he discovered as part of a television show.

The star of Mock The Week and sitcom Outnumbered took part in BBC family tree programme Who Do You Think You Are? – and found that, if it wasn’t for his grandfather Ron Dennis, he may be living a very different life.

Ron was born in Wales, near Rotherham, in 1899, to mother Edith and coal mining father John, who worked at Kiveton Colliery.

The couple were determined Ron should not go down the pit, so insisted he got a good education, first at Wales Primary School. Crucially, in 1910, he then won a rare scholarship to attend Woodhouse Grammar School.

Hugh Dennis told the show: “He went to grammar school, which set the course for me now. If he hadn’t got in, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.”

By the time Ron left school World War One was raging, and he was hand-picked for officer training in Cambridge.

Aged 19 he was posted as a platoon commander on the Western Front, where he was wounded by shrapnel a week before the end of the war.

He later married, became a secondary school teacher, and died in 1990 aged 91.

His son John became a C of E bishop, and his grandson Hugh went to Cambridge University – and became the household name he is today.

Hugh concluded: “Without my grandfather’s journey I don’t suppose my life would be in any sense the same.”