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This Is Your Life (UK TV series)

This is Your Life is a British biographical television documentary, based on the 1952 American show of the same title. It was hosted by Eamonn Andrews from 1955 until 1964, and then from 1969 until his death in 1987 aged 64. Michael Aspel then took up the role of host until the show ended in 2003. It returned in 2007 as a one-off special presented by Trevor McDonald, which to date was its most recent airing.

This is Your Life
This is Your Life (2007) title card.jpg
Title card of 2007 revival.
Genre Documentary
Biography
Presented by Eamonn Andrews (1955–1964, 1969–1987)
Michael Aspel (1987–2003)
Trevor McDonald (2007)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 43
No. of episodes 1,130
Production
Running time 30–60 minutes
Production company(s) BBC Productions (1955–1964)
Thames Television (1969–2003)
Click TV (2007)
Ralph Edwards Productions (2007)
STV Productions (2007)
ITV Productions (2007)
TIYL Productions (2007)
Distributor Fremantle Media
ITV Studios
STV Group plc
Release
Original network BBC One (29 July 1955 – 30 April 1964, 2 November 1994 – 8 August 2003)
ITV (19 November 1969 – 20 July 1994, 2 June 2007)
Original release 1955–1964, 1969–2003, 2007
Chronology
Related shows American version
New Zealand version
Australian version

In the show the host surprises a special guest, before taking them through their life with the assistance of the 'big red book'. Both celebrities and non-celebrities have been 'victims' of the show. The show was originally broadcast live, and over its run it has alternated between being broadcast on the BBC and on ITV.

The surprise element was a very important part of the show; if the guest heard about the project beforehand, it would be immediately abandoned.

Contents

HistoryEdit

The British version of the show was launched in 1955 on the BBC and was first presented by Ralph Edwards to the first "victim", Eamonn Andrews, who was the presenter from the second show. The scriptwriter for the first 35 episodes was Gale Pedrick.[1] It ended in 1964 when Andrews moved to Associated British Corporation, but it was revived on ITV (produced by Thames Television) in 1969.

 
The big red book for fireman Tom Breaks, Mon 26 Mar 1962

The only other occasion during Andrews' presentational run where he was not the presenter was in 1974 when he was the subject a second time, and the show was presented by David Nixon. Michael Aspel (himself, a "victim" in 1980) became presenter after Andrews died in 1987. The show returned to the BBC in 1994 but was still produced independently by Thames Television. The programme was axed again in 2003.

At first, the show was always broadcast live; later, programmes were sometimes pre-recorded. Live broadcasts ended in 1983 when boxer Alan Minter could not stop swearing during his appearance, but newspapers were able to find out which star was to be featured and ratings dropped as people no longer watched it just to see who was on that week.[citation needed]

The show returned in June 2007 on ITV for a one-off special programme hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald with guest Simon Cowell. The new edition was co-produced by ITV Productions, STV Productions, TIYL Productions, Click TV and Ralph Edwards Productions.

Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway featured a return of This is Your Life to celebrate Ant & Dec's 25 years together, quizzing them on their 25 years as part of "Ant vs Dec" in episode 6 of Series 11. Michael Aspel returned as host alongside Ashley Roberts.

GuestsEdit

Lynn Redgrave, in December 1996, was caught while taking her bow in her one-woman show on stage at the Haymarket Theatre, the only time the Redgrave clan was seen together on stage at the same time. Bob Hope and Dudley Moore have been the only subjects of two-part editions of the programme, in 1970 and 1987 respectively. Both were broadcast over two weeks. Clive Mantle's profile included a post-credits sequence where he thanked the audience for coming.

Footballer Danny Blanchflower turned down the "red book" in February 1961. Author Richard Gordon (of Doctor in the House fame) was asked in 1974 and, like Bill Oddie (of The Goodies) in 2001, he initially turned it down, but changed his mind and appeared on the show. Actor Richard Beckinsale was a feature on the show shortly after his 31st birthday, eight months before his death.

In 1996, the Sunday Mirror reported that a planned show for Cockney comedy actor Arthur Mullard was pulled after researchers contacted his eldest son. The same report featured claims that Mullard had terrorised his family and had sexually abused his daughter for many years.[2]

The series originally included non-celebrities who had done extraordinary things in their lives. In later years, following a persistent criticism of only deeming celebrities worthy of being featured on the show, non-celebrities were featured again. These included businesspeople, military personnel, the clergy and those that had performed outstanding community or charity service but who were not well known to the general public. Examples include: paramedic Allan Norman; Group Captain Leonard Cheshire; Cromer lifeboatman Henry "Shrimp" Davies; Colonel Tod Sweeney; Mary Ward, community nurse to the boat people of the canals; Chay Blyth; Sir Nicholas Winton; Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader; and Sir Fitzroy Maclean. The series never profiled serving politicians, although retired politicians were occasionally featured, e.g. Lord Brabourne.

Forty-two celebrities have appeared on the show twice — including Honor Blackman, Bob Monkhouse and Eamonn Andrews himself.

David Butler was 17 when he became the youngest ever subject of This is Your Life. He was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in the headmaster's study of Hemel Hempstead Grammar School. David lost both his legs and a hand when, aged 11, he found an unexploded bomb on Ivinghoe Beacon.

When snooker player Stephen Hendry was surprised with the red book in 1990, aged 21, he remarked that he had "hardly had a life".

Theme musicEdit

The theme tune used from 1969 was called 'Gala Performance' and was composed by Laurie Johnson for KPM.

TransmissionsEdit

BBC1Edit

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 29 July 1955 6 May 1956 15
2 1 October 1956 27 May 1957 19
3 30 September 1957 5 May 1958 31
4 29 September 1958 11 May 1959 33
5 31 August 1959 28 March 1960 31
6 19 September 1960 8 May 1961 34
7 2 October 1961 7 May 1962 32
8 2 October 1962 14 May 1963 31
9 3 October 1963 30 April 1964 30

ITVEdit

Series Start date End date Episodes
10 19 November 1969 27 May 1970 26
11 18 November 1970 12 May 1971 26
12 17 November 1971 10 May 1972 26
13 15 November 1972 9 May 1973 26
14 21 November 1973 15 May 1974 27
15 10 October 1974 7 May 1975 27
16 12 November 1975 5 May 1976 26
17 27 October 1976 27 April 1977 27
18 23 November 1977 31 May 1978 27
19 25 October 1978 3 May 1979 27
20 28 November 1979 21 May 1980 26
21 15 October 1980 15 April 1981 26
22 13 October 1981 31 March 1982 26
23 20 October 1982 13 April 1983 26
24 26 October 1983 18 April 1984 26
25 7 November 1984 8 May 1985 27
26 16 October 1985 30 April 1986 26
27 15 October 1986 8 April 1987 26
28 14 October 1987 20 January 1988 7
29 19 October 1988 1 March 1989 20
30 25 October 1989 7 May 1990 27
31 17 October 1990 17 April 1991 26
32 16 October 1991 15 April 1992 26
33 30 September 1992 21 April 1993 30
34 12 January 1994 20 July 1994 26

BBC1Edit

Series Start date End date Episodes
35 2 November 1994 17 May 1995 28
36 6 September 1995 6 March 1996 27
37 20 September 1996 24 March 1997 26
38 1 September 1997 23 February 1998 26
39 7 September 1998 1 March 1999 26
40 1 November 1999 29 May 2000 28
41 9 November 2000 7 June 2001 26
42 17 October 2001 23 May 2002 26
43 2 January 2003 8 August 2003 25

SpecialEdit

  • 2 June 2007 (ITV)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Mr Gale Pedrick". The Times. 24 February 1970. p. 10. Retrieved 29 August 2014.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ Woodward, Ian (May 12, 1996). "ARTHUR MULLARD WAS THE COCKNEY COMIC MILLIONS LOVED ...AND A MONSTER WHO RAPED HIS DAUGHTER AT 13; 'Behind his TV smile lurked an evil pervert who made me his sex slave, drove my mum to suicide and destroyed my life'.". www.thefreelibrary.com. Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 2017-01-23. 

External linksEdit