Sport on TV: Coe's legacy is bitter-sweet as the past catches up with him - TV & Radio - Media - The Independent

Sport on TV: Coe's legacy is bitter-sweet as the past catches up with him

When Sebastian Coe agreed to take part in Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, Wednesday), he may have thought it would make a pleasant distraction from organising London 2012, but there was no running away from his past. He is forever being asked about the legacy of the Olympic Games, so it was no surprise that he should find himself poring over the last wills and testaments of his forefathers to find out what they left behind. It was to be a legacy of leg-overs and leg-chains.

If ever character traits were to run in the family, you would think it would happen to the former gold medallist. They all have protuberant noses. But he takes more pleasure from discovering that his mother's ancestors lived in Jamaica, "the powerhouse of world athletics". They were sugar plantation owners with more wealth than the aristocracy because sugar, known as "white gold", was in huge demand back home. One of the plantocracy's brood, Hyde John Clarke, was born in Trelawny, the parish that produced Usain Bolt.

The Hyde Clarkes also poured their money back into the British economy to fuel the Industrial Revolution and set up a stately home at Hyde Hall in Cheshire. "I think I raced there as a kid," says Coe. "It was 30 miles from where I did all my training."

Hyde John Clarke left the sugar behind to become a Navy captain and then a benefactor back in Blighty. It's surprising he didn't run for office. Coe said: "I've always naturally been drawn to people who have contributed." Not least those who handed over their bank details to buy tickets for the Olympics.

But there is a darker side to this story: the sea captain was one of six illegitimate children fathered by George Hyde Clarke, the plantation owner who enjoyed all the fruits of a decadent colonial existence, and who was variously described in the wills as an "execrable villain" and a "profligate, abandoned nephew".

Over everything hung the spectre of slavery. George had hundreds of slaves but it was his father, Major Edward, who felt their resentment most keenly. He was the lieutenant governor of New York in 1741 when a slave uprising in the fetid swamp that was Manhattan led to vast swathes of the nascent city being burned to the ground.

The Major's solution to the problem of finding the ringleaders of the riot was to offer slaves their freedom and a £100 lump sum, three times the annual wage of a skilled artisan. The culprits were duly identified and executed, and New York was saved as a colonial outpost.

So if anyone is thinking of burning down a few of the constructions taking shape in the fetid swamp of London's East End, they had better beat a hasty retreat because Lord Coe will be hot on their heels.

Gavin Henson is a sportsman who might qualify for "who do you think you are?" in the other sense. Right now he would be hard-pressed to trace his own rugby career, let alone his family tree. As the Wales players head off to the World Cup, he's strutting his stuff on The Bachelor (Five, Friday), perhaps planning to expand his own dynasty quite soon.

He ditched 10 of his 25 suitors straightaway, including identical twins, though it was unclear if they came as a package. But this series will still drag on longer than the Dragonhood's World Cup campaign.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Head of Marketing - London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketing Manager / Dig...

Brand Manager / Account Manager

£28 - 36k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Brand Manager / Senior Account Manager is nee...

Sales Executive

£20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

Director of Programming and Industry Engagement

£40k - £50k depending on experience: Sheffield Doc/Fest: Sheffield Doc/Fest is...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week