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Summary

Comedian Mark Steel's hilarious and heartbreaking exploration of his own adoption.

Growing up in humdrum Swanley in Kent with loving parents, Mark Steel had never been bothered about being an adopted child. But in later life, established as a successful comedian and writer, he decided to search for his biological parents.

What he uncovered was a story so strange, a cast of characters so eccentric and far-fetched that he was transported to social and cultural divides that spanned half the world. His mother had at first refused to have Mark adopted, while his father later went on to become a key player in Mayfair’s Clermont gambling club and reached the pinnacle of high society. What happened when Mark finally contacted both his parents is as moving as it was entirely unexpected. 

As well as his own story, told in his uniquely endearing and hilarious voice, Mark delves into the more serious aspects of adoption, single motherhood and the brutality of the social attitudes of the time. He surveys the testimony of mothers and those adopted and tries to find reasons for his own mother’s crucial and agonising decision. Who Do I Think I Am is one of the funniest, most heart-breaking stories you’ll ever encounter.

©2021 Mark Steel (P)2021 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Who Do I Think I Am?

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Steel on Steel!

Could not give anything other than 5 stars, Mark Steel has entertained and educated me for years. I really enjoyed the 1hout show that is at the heart of this book and frustrated to not be able to find the audio of it, but this book covers so much more. Hope Mark keeps coming up with new shows and more material as I’m not done yet!

11 people found this helpful

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Fascinating Adoption Story

Mark's reading of his adoption story is both funny and full of emotion. A fascinating tale of family values and how they have changed.

7 people found this helpful

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Nor to be missed

Even better than I anticipated, an honest appraisal of Mark's life experience and a fascinating comparison between nature and nurture that his research into his biological origins reveals.

5 people found this helpful

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An utter joy

I could listen to Mark Steel talking all day long. This is laugh out loud funny, poignant, fascinating and unremittingly weird. Absolutely excellent from start to finish.

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Like the stage show

Just longer more interesting and just as funny... now I have to add some extra words to pad out to the word limit.

4 people found this helpful

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Superb

Excellent in all ways, Mark Steel has a remarkable story to tell and lessons to be learned.

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Brilliant story

Brilliant story, very funny, moving and insightful. I've always enjoyed listening to Mark but never imagined he had such an amazing background.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

a fascinating story narrated with passion and humour by the author himself. Brilliant. Mark Steel is passionate and funny as always.

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Great story and funny too.

I'm so glad Mark read this himself, somehow I don't think it would have worked so well otherwise. A great story, well researched and funny too.

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Nature vs nurture debated compulsively

I’m a big Mark Steele fan, so picked this book to learn more about him. I could never have predicted moments when I gasped out loud through a dropped jaw!! It’s a wonderful story! I’ll listen again sometime to understand more about 20th Century history, but for now, I’m content to enjoy the joyous warm-heartedness of the man!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Norma Miles
  • 09-05-22

"The drummer or the drum?"

Mark Steel's loud and furiously cheerful stage presentation bursts from this Audiobook as he recounts his journey of discovery in looking for his birth mother. Always having known that he was adopted, he had never felt the need to know about his biological parents until his own daughter was born. Then began his twelve year search which finally brought some surprising results and unexpected characters. Although occasionally repetitious, but always amusing, the author is both articulate and forceful in his sharing of opinions of ideas and people, both past and present, and is an excellent witness in summing up life, especially for most women, in the mid twentieth century.I

For all who enjoy Mark Steel's radio series or stage performances, this book is a must. Similarly, for anyone interested in life as a working class youth in the 1950's. The book is funny, moving and sometimes thought provoking, as well as sad in considering the plight of women with little choice in deciding their future. But most of all, it's filled with the author's great optimism and embracing of life.
Highly recommended

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  • soltex41
  • 26-03-22

despite its flaws, life is good

touching story, thoughtful. Shows the importance of treating others with dignaty and respect. also shows the need to forgive and not to judge others more harshly that you would want to be judged . well acted.

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  • R. Craig
  • 24-02-22

Amazing

Wonderfully surprising, poignant at times, and of course, often irreverently funny. Absolutely effing amazing. Hated for it to end, hope there’s a follow up one day. Have always loved and admired Mark Steel, and now am left feeling that I know him personally, and like him all the more. Get this book, it’s an unforgettable ride.

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  • Len
  • 11-02-22

Mark Steel telling his own story...Excellent!

I assumed this would be funny because Mark is so funny. It was funny. It was also thought-provoking, moving, and authentic which really made it a great story.

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  • Bridget
  • 24-12-21

Fantastically interesting and funny

The first 18 chapters are hard to stop listening to at night when you should be sleeping. Chapter 17 is hard to keep listening to if you have even the slightest scrap of human empathy and absolutely if you have a small baby.

The second half is perhaps not quite as snappy but Mark's performance is consistent throughout. Still very worthwhile. Some of the funniest single lines are in the back half.

The conclusion is satisfying and genuine despite the obstacles the world put in Mark's way. I slightly wish that his son Elliot had read his small part but that's a tiny detail that in no way takes from the experience.