Reggie Yates – a rift with his father

Reggie-YatesOn the latest episode of ‘Who Do You Think You’ (which aired on BBC on Thursday), the former Voice presenter discovered his family roots and is eager to put his troubled past with his dad behind him.  According to The Mirror, after  his parents divorced when Reggie Yates was four-years-old, his father visited him just a handful of times. Aged 16, the TV presenter bumped into his father outside a Tube station and threw his card in the bin. And he didn’t see him again.

“In my teens, I think my head-space was very different because I didn’t understand just how important it is to know your family, regardless of the intricacies of that person and their failures,” Reggie says.

But now the 31-year-old has healed the rift with his estranged father – also called Reggie.

“As an adult, you make a decision whether you want to pursue something,” he says. “You grow up and things change.

“Your priorities change and regardless of what has happened, as an adult, you have to make quite big decisions and I made a few of my own.”

No longer strangers, the two have started to build a relationship.

“As I’m getting older I’m understanding the importance of family and at some point I hope to be a father and regardless of my relationship with my dad, I think it’s very important to my children to have a relationship with their grandfather,” Reggie says.

“I want them to be able to know who their family are and what their history is.”

Reggie with his family

Growing up without his father, means Reggie, who is of Ghanian descent, has very little information about that side of his family.

And in a bid to fill in the missing pieces of his family jigsaw, he has taken part in BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are?, which screens on Thursday.

With the help of the show, he has tracked his relatives as far back as his British great-great grandfather, A G Lloyd.

A commissioner in the Colonial Service, which administered most of Britain’s overseas possessions, he was sent to work in Ghana.

The region was then known as the Gold Coast because it was so rich in gold.

While there, he had a daughter with Reggie’s great-great grandmother, Sarah, but later deserted mother and child.

As an adult, Reggie’s great-grandmother, Dorothy, married an Englishman, George Yates who came to work on the gold mines.

Reggie discovers George already had a wife and several children back in England.

It would seem Dorothy, who had a son with George, wasn’t aware of this.

George split his time between the two families but, when Reggie’s grandfather, Harry, was two-years-old, George left Ghana for England after falling ill and never returned.

“The parallels in this story between Harry and myself are a little scary because that’s essentially what’s happened to me in the UK,” Reggie says.

He adds: “I always knew it was going to be an education and it definitely was.”

He was also surprised by how many mixed race relationships there were in his family.

“I thought it might have happened once and that complexion travelled down through the family but it happened several times through the generations,” he says.

Reggie never met his paternal grandparents, who died in the early 2000s.

But, thanks to the show, he got to visit his grandfather’s house in Ghana.

“It was weird because I was walking the corridors that my dad used to play in as a kid with all my uncles,” Reggie says.

“To be in the place that was once his castle was a brilliant feeling. I wish I’d had a chance to meet him because he seemed like a really special guy.”

Raised by his mother, Felicity, on an estate in Holloway, north London, Reggie first hit our TV screens at just eight-years-old when he starred in Channel 4 sitcom, Desmond’s.

He went on to land a part in Grange Hill and other TV shows before presenting Top Of The Pops and shows on Radio 1 with Fearne Cotton.

Reggie is still extremely close to the 33-year-old DJ and was present when she recently tied the knot with Jesse Wood – the son of Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

“It’s so amazing to see Fearne as happy as she is,” he says. “It’s lovely to see someone you care about move into the next phase of their lives.”

Fearne gave birth to a son, Rex, last year and Reggie was one of the first to meet him.

“I was in the hospital moments after he was born, which was very nice,” Reggie says. “It was really lovely of her to invite me down. To see just how happy she was, to shake Jesse’s hand, it was just lovely.

“We’ve known each other for a long time and we’ve shared a lot of very special moments with each other so it was lovely to be a part of that.”

And since the new addition, Reggie is affectionately known as ‘Uncle Reggie’ by his showbiz sister.

Does being an honorary uncle make him want a child of his own?

“I wouldn’t say it makes me broody as such but I am excited when it’s my turn and when I get to do for me in my own way,” he says. “I’m looking forward to that. I’ve always loved kids.”

He laughs: “When it’s my turn to poison the world with my seed I think it will be fun!”

Reggie has been in a relationship with model Tia Ward, 25, for two years.

“There’s nothing nicer than being with someone that you care about and being in something real and that for me is something I’m trying to preserve,” he reveals.

In the past, Reggie has admitted his vice is women and he’s been linked to a string of beautiful women, including model Jourdan Dunn, 24.

And one person in particular is very pleased that Reggie is beginning to settle down – his mum.

Reggie says: “She’s obviously very excited at the fact that I’ve been with someone for more than five minutes, which is new for me.”

And she’s very eager for her son to take the relationship to the next level.

“In Ghanian culture there’s this whole thing of a knocking where my family turn up to the family of my partner and literally knock on the door and say: ‘Hi, we’re the people taking your daughter’,” Reggie says.

“My mum has literally started knocking on my door, going: ‘When are we going to knock on hers?’”

Reggie acknowledges growing up without a father is a reason behind not rushing into fatherhood.

“I’d like to pretend it hasn’t but it definitely has played a part,” he says. “I think the main reason why I feel that way is because I understand the importance of men in a young man’s life and when it comes to my children, particularly my sons – I’d like to have more than one – I’d like to think I’d be an important person to them and for them.”

And for the moment, it seems, Reggie is too busy working to start making babies.

He’s presenting a second series of the hit ITV show Release The Hounds and is busy filming a follow-up to his popular BBC series, Reggie Yates’ Extreme South Africa.

This time, he’ll be in Russia documenting the lives of young people there.

“I’ve never been so I’m really excited to see what it’s like,” he says.

And he’s also working on various projects with comedian Lenny Henry.

So Reggie’s mum will have to wait a little longer for the sound of wedding bells.

“When it’s right, is when I’ll do it,” he smiles.