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Over 5m viewers tune in for Brendan's historic murder

FROM playing dowdy matriarch Agnes Brown to cold case detective, Brendan O'Carroll's Who Do You Think You Are episode won the BBC show its highest ratings in three years.

The 58-year-old's genealogy journey to discover who shot his grandfather has been declared a massive hit, having raked in 5.3m viewers in the UK and Ireland when it aired on BBC1 on Thursday.

The programme followed Finglas native Brendan's moving experience as he returned to his hometown of Dublin to find out the truth behind Peter O'Carroll's murder during the War of Independence.

And Brendan has proven he's still adored by his fans, as the series recorded its highest ratings since an episode featuring Silent Witness star Emilia Fox aired in September 2011 to 5.4m.


The cameras followed the award-winning comedian as he discovered his grandfather was shot by a British intelligence officer in 1920.

Through researching newspaper reports of the time, Brendan was told of a note pinned to his grandfather's body saying 'This man is a traitor to Ireland - shot by the IRA'.

His family quickly dispelled this idea given that three of his uncles were members of the IRA at the time and records show that his funeral was attended by plenty of IRA activists.

The breakthrough in the research came when Brendan came across records from 1950 containing witness statements of a spy who was working for the British authorities at the time.

His grandfather's killer was revealed to be a former British Army Major, Jocelyn Lee Hardy, who was a decorated officer who lost a leg in combat during the First World War.

During the episode Brendan also recounts how his grandfather and his then nine-year-old dad, Gerard O'Carroll, were shot on the street in front of their home by the Black and Tans, who interrogated them about Brendan's uncles - members of the IRA at the time.

"They said to my grandfather 'then die' and they shot him three times - once in the head, once in the chest and once in the stomach," Brendan said on screen. "And then they shot my father and left him for dead."

Gerard was shot once in the shoulder and was rushed to hospital. "We're beyond justice I think, but at least we got the truth," Brendan added.