Who Do You Think You Are?

Emma Willis

Series 14 - Episode 5 Emma Willis



Big Brother and Voice presenter Emma Willis is immensely proud of her working-class Birmingham roots and reckons she comes from a long line of honest grafters. A photo showing her grim-faced great-grandmother with her family seems to confirm her ancestors were ordinary folk, although she bursts out laughing, “That makes me think of Peaky Blinders! You wouldn’t want to mess with her.”

Willis’s main concern is that her forebears are “good” people – and most are, so she seems genuinely excited (and occasionally emotional) about what she discovers. However, it’s when she traces another branch of her family that the surprises start. She’s thrilled to find a relative who was not only a respected and highly skilled stonemason but was also active in the campaign for the rights of Irish workers. Conversely, she’s horrified to learn that in 1790 her five times great-grandfather was a Protestant landowning gentleman in Ireland who, on one occasion at least, did not behave in a very gentlemanly manner.


Emma Willis is the latest to take part in the popular genealogy documentary, in which famous faces trace their family trees. The TV presenter, who considers herself a true Brummie, is keen to learn more about her family in Birmingham, tracing back to Victorian times and her hard-working ancestor James Gretton, a local merchant. The Big Brother host then learns that her father's grandmother was born in Ireland. Surprised to hear of this new line of ancestry, Emma heads across to Dublin to find out more - but she is disturbed by what she learns.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Emma Willis
Director Rosie Schellenberg
Series Producer Sarah Feltes