Olivia Colman won her first Oscar this year. At the 91st Academy Awards. Olivia was honoured with the Best Actress in A Leading Role for her work in The Favourite. A few months before her Oscar win, Olivia Colman travelled to India to search for her roots: which lay in Bihar’s Kishanganj.
In an episode of the British Documentary Series Who Do You Think You Are. Colman travelled to India to discover the connections that she had with the country. The actress is left quite surprised when she finds that her family, that she thinks ‘have never lived anywhere but Norfolk’ have a link to India.
Colman’s great-great-great-great grandfather from the maternal side was born in Saint Helena off the coast of Africa. Richard Campbell Bazett, her ancestor, had worked in London and Kolkata as an employee of the East India Company. Colman, during the course of the episode, discovers that her Indian roots go back to Kishanganj, where Bazett’s son Charles had a wife called Harriot. Harriot happens to be Colman’s great-great-great grandmother. Harriot was born in Kishanganj in 1807.
Once in Kishanganj, Olivia goes to the former British Club in Kishanganj, where she discovers Harriot’s marriage certificate. The strong possibility, Olivia is told, is that Harriot’s mother was not British and was ‘very probably’ a local lady.
When Harriot was three or four years old, her father died. Harriot’s grandmother then paid for her to be taken from India to England.
Olivia then finds out that Harriot had come back to Calcutta from England when she was 24 or 25 years old. Harriot married William Trigg Garrett in 1832, Olivia realises. However, Harriot vanishes from official records after the death of her husband in 1833.
In 1838, Harriot marries again. This time, Charles Young Bazett. Harriot and Charles returned to India in 1838, after their wedding.
Olivia Colman says later, “I thought there was nobody exotic in my family. I was so wrong! … hadn’t got a clue that India played any part of my family. I was very surprised at how much I ended up caring about her [Harriot], someone I’d never heard of before. Then to find out that her mum was a local Kishanganj woman, that’s the most exciting bit.”