RTE axe Nathan Carter chat with alleged paedo

Nathan Carter
Nathan Carter

RTE yesterday revealed that they have dropped an interview with the father of American family group The Willis Clan on Nathan Carter’s new TV show, following this week’s shock revelation that he has been arrested and charged with child rape.

Nathan, along with Irish fans and friends of the Nashville-based group, including Darren Holden of The High Kings, have been left reeling by the news that father-of-12 Toby Willis (46), was arrested last Saturday and charged in Tennessee with child rape 12 years ago.

Toby Willis

Willis is accused of raping a nine-year-old relative.

His wife Brenda issued a statement on Thursday saying: “I was shocked and devastated by the revelation of events leading to Toby Willis’s arrest. As these are very trying times for the Willis family, I kindly ask all to respect our family’s privacy.

“As a mother of 12, my first priority remains with my children.”

The Willis Clan, who are from Chicago and of Irish descent, were among a string of acts recorded over four nights at the Knocknarea Arena in Sligo in recent weeks for Nathan’s RTE TV series.

Sunday World columnist Carter also interviewed many of the guests on his show, including Toby and Brenda Willis.  

Although the interview with Toby Willis has definitely been canned, no decision has been made in relation to the live performance of the group, which features 11 of the Willis siblings.

RTE press officer Sarah Neville yesterday told the Sunday World: “The interview with Toby Willis will not be featuring on the show.”

Asked if the performance of The Willis Clan will go ahead, she added: “A number of performers were filmed for the series, but not all of them will make the final series. No decision has been made yet on what performances will make the final version of the show.”

The Willis Family shot to fame through their reality show on American TV, and they also reached the quarter-finals of America’s Got Talent.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said they began investigating Willis on August 29 after agents “developed information Willis had a sexual encounter approximately 12 years ago with an underage female.”

Yesterday Darren Holden of The High Kings, a friend of the Willis Clan, told the Sunday World that he is “shocked and saddened” by the charge against Toby Willis.

“I never met Toby Willis as he was never around when I met the group, but I know the kids’ mother, Brenda, who is a lovely woman,” Darren revealed.

“Our hearts go out to Brenda and the kids. They’ve been to see The High Kings in America several times as they’re fans of our group. 

“The first time they came to see us in Nashville they didn’t even ask for complimentary tickets. The owner of the venue told us they had booked two rows of seats for the show.

“I was aware of them at the time from their reality TV show. And when I met them after the show they were lovely. The father wasn’t with them. I remember that they were well mannered and well behaved and eager to learn from us. They are a lovely, lovely family.”

The Willis Clan, who were taught Irish dancing in Chicago growing up, have a huge following throughout Ireland. They did a nationwide tour during the summer and also performed in Croke Park during half-time at the 1916 Commemorative matches on Sunday, April 24.