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Who Do You Think You Are? fans in tears as David Walliams reflects on great grandfather’s ‘terrifying’ past

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David Walliams reflects on great grandfather’s past (Picture: BBC)

Who Do You Think You Are? left viewers all emotional as tonight’s episode saw David Walliams take a deep dive into his great grandfather’s ‘terrifying’ past.

The Britain’s Got Talent star adopted a whole new domineer than the comedian we know and love, as he researched his dad’s grandfather John George Boorman, who was admitted to an asylum with shell shock after fighting in the First World War.

In 1916, the hero left his wife and their three children to fight in the Battle of the Somme.

However, after going missing for a year, he eventually turned up at Napsbury Military hospital – where he confessed to hearing voices.

It was then he was transported to Cane Hill Hospital, where he lived out the rest of his life before he died from heart failure.

Meeting up with the historian Alice Brumby, David explored what his great grandfather would have been getting up to in the 43 years that he spent at the hospital.

She explained: ‘Every aspect of his life would have been regimented. Breakfast would have been at this time, he would have been eating this food, and he would have gone out to work.

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He spent 43 years at the institution before dying of heart failure (Picture: BBC)

‘So it strikes me that your granddad would have been a hero in the First World War, into a military hospital, following that into a lunatic asylum. But you can see they tried to make life here a little bit more fun.’

David then listed off the ‘general weekly programme of entertainment’ which included the likes of quizzes, a day at the cinema, a session listening to the radio.

But the one that stood out to David was the art class, and Alice actually had some of his great grandfather’s work to hand.

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John George Boorman turned to painting when he was admitted to an asylum (Picture: BBC)

‘It’s such a sad story,’ the children’s author said while looking at a picture of John before he went to war. ‘He looks proud and he’s smiling, he has no idea what horrors are about to face him.’

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Fans were left saddened by the story of David’s great grandfather (Pictures: Twitter)

‘There is one positive part to the story, and that’s the paintings, because the paintings make me think that his life here couldn’t have been terrible,’ he added.

‘He had a creative outlet and something that he cared about.

‘In my own life I’ve gone through nothing like him, but times when I felt down I found grateful to be creative because it’s an escape. I’m glad he had the paintings and I’m glad I’ve got them.’

Fans were saddened at the story and took to Twitter when one revealed she just wanted to give David a hug.

‘So sad,’ someone said while another wrote: ‘Just been watching your #wdytya, utterly emotional, I was sitting in tears, thinking how we treated our heroes.

‘One of the best episodes I’ve ever seen. Thank you for sharing your families story with us, David. @MindCharity was truly needed then.’

Others felt the same, adding: ‘David Walliams #WDYTYA with typically incredible testimonials of WW1 and beyond. Terrifying.’

Who Do You Think You Are? airs on BBC One.

 


Credit: Original article published here.

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