This Is Your Life, 1955
This Is Your Life, the show famous for it’s big red book, was the British biographical television documentary, based on the 1952 American show of the same name.
Looking back this was one of the earliest British TV shows running for almost 50 years. There are few shows since that have that kind of record (we know, Last of The Summer Wine ran for 37 years and Doctor Who technically for over 50 )
The show was launched on the BBC on July 29th 1955, presented by Ralph Edwards it’s first guest was none other than Eamonn Andrews.
From the second show Eamonn Andrews would become the host, a job he would do until his death in 1987. There was one exception to this and that was in 1974 when Andrews became the featured guest for a second time, on this occasion TV magician David Nixon took up hosting duties. The show ran until 1964 when Eamonn Andrews moved to Associated British Corporation. However it was revived on ITV (produced by Thames Television) in 1969.
When Eamonn Andrews died in 1987, the show was still on ITV and Michael Aspel became the new host. Thames were still producing This Is your Life when ITV axed the show in 1994, the BBC took up the show where it ran until 2003 before finally being axed.
Since it’s axing in 2003 the show has made only one re-appearance and that was in 2007, the guest was Simon Cowell and it was hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald. This one off was independently produced by ITV Productions, STV Productions, TIYL Productions, Click TV and Ralph Edwards Productions.
In the early days, the show would always be broadcast live; later, programs were sometimes pre-recorded. Live broadcasts ended in 1983 when Alan Minter could not stop swearing during his appearance. However once newspapers were able to find out which star was to be featured, ratings dropped as people no longer watched it just to see who was on that week.
Each week a famous person it could be a comedian, actor, anybody well known or who had achieved somthing outstanding in their lifetime, would be surprised by Andrews who would appear from nowhere or be disguised and utter those immortal words “Tonight…..This Is Your Life”
The guest would then make their way back to the studio where a number of friends and family would be waiting. As Eamonn Andrews read their life stories, he would be aided by guests who would usually be friends or family popping in with their own stories about the guest. When on occasions someone couldn’t be there they would appear on screen.
Who else would you expect on an extended edition..
Episodes can be found in full on You Tube.
BBC, 1955 – 1969
ITV, 1969 – 1994
BBC1, 1994 – 2003
Original Transmission Dates:
25th July 1955 – 6th February 2003