Belfast Telegraph

Emma Willis discovers relative tortured Irish men on Who Do You Think You Are

Big Brother presenter Emma Willis is shocked to discover one of her ancestors tortured and attempted to kill two Irish men during the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are.

The genealogy programme will air on the BBC on Thursday night and will follow The Voice UK host as she traces her roots from her home in Birmingham to Ireland.

Before trailing through her family history, the 41-year-old admits that she doesn't want to find anything unsavory about her ancestors.

She says: "I come from a kind family and I hope that has been history repeating itself.

"I know nothing past my grandparents on either side and I think I've got to a point in my life where I want to know more. I want to know more about me. I want to know more about where I came from.

"I don't know what's about to unfold. Hopefully it's a positive outcome."

However Emma soon discovers that is not the case as she finds out her five times great grandfather Richard Fowler tortured and attempted to kill an Irish blacksmith and his son in the late 18th century during a time of religious tensions.

Emma Willis (front L) with her paternal grandparents Edna & Bill Griffiths, her mother Cathy and her sister Sharon - circa 1980s. (C) Steve and Cathy Griffiths

Fowler, who was a Protestant, broke into Catholic man Michael Egan and his son Thomas' home and stabbed them with a bayonet before torturing them.

It is said he believed they were making weapons in the fight against British rule.

The pair were eventually rescued after a local man heard them screaming and chased Fowler and his accomplices away.

A tearful Emma says of the discovery: "That’s horrific. How can you defend doing that to somebody? That was exactly what I didn’t want to find out.”

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on BBC1 at 9pm on Thursday, August 3.

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