... a simple premise for a television show. A surprise encounter and an unexpected reunion. The host reveals the life story of the unsuspecting ‘subject’ with the help of a Big Red Book and a gathering of family and friends.
That formula became one of the most popular programmes on British television ever, running almost 50 years, producing over 1000 editions, and, in the process, becoming a British institution.
At the peak of its popularity, in the 1970s and 80s, millions of television viewers regularly tuned in every Wednesday at 7pm with excited anticipation of whose name would be embossed on that week’s Big Red Book...
This website is a celebration of the show and the lives it honoured. Open the Big Red Book to reveal a record of every UK edition from 1955-2003 and learn about the series, the subjects and the sets as we turn back the pages of one of the best loved television treasures of all time.
So, as the man said ... “if you look at that screen over there...”
Jack Crawshaw - former researcher, writer, and producer of This Is Your Life:
"Big Red Book is a living archive - a unique and illuminating document, which combines a mass of historical data with a fund of fond memories of our much loved programme.
A well researched, and conscientiously collated, This Is Your Life, This Is Your Life."
In an exclusive interview the explorer recalls his 1976 appearance on This Is Your Life
The actor's nephew, Neil Hendry remembers his uncle's tribute from 1978 in an exclusive contribution to the Big Red Book website
The actress - Britain's blonde bombshell - honoured with two Big Red Books - in 1957 and 1982
The West Indian cricketer surprised for an edition broadcast in 1975
The youngest lifeboat subject featured on This Is Your Life in a 1980 edition
The World Champion Grand Prix motorcycle road racer surprised in 1978
A 1973 programme featuring the actor currently starring in television's Special Branch
The articulate and eloquent globe trotting journalist rendered speechless in 1982
The Commonwealth Games gold medal winner surprised in 1991
The entertainer and puppeteer surprised by Michael Aspel dressed as Sooty in 1988
The entertainer recalls his This Is Your Life appearance from 1986 in an exclusive interview
In an exclusive contribution to the Big Red Book website the writer remembers her tribute from 2000
A Royal surprise for the portrait and fashion photographer in a 1983 edition
A 1971 broadcast honouring the comedian who began his career in music hall
|Douglas FAIRBANKS Jr
The Hollywood actor surprised on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1989
Hero of the Battle of Arnhem surprised in 1977
Record breaking yachtswoman featured in 1979 following her round the world voyage
|Richard MADELEY and Judy FINNIGAN
Husband and wife television presenters surprised live on air in 1997
Gold medal winning Paralympian surprised in 1981 - the International Year of the Disabled
Eccentrically styled television chef and restaurateur caught out in 1991
Check out the subject lists year by year - from series 1 to 43
Search the full A-Z list of 1104 subjects from Abbot to Zarb
Discover more about the show and lives of those it featured
Delve into the archives for more insight into the show's history
An expanding online archive of exclusive interviews
The full line up of subjects from the first 26 episodes of This Is Your Life produced by Thames Television between 1969-1970
A chronology of the show's fifty year history
|The first BBC period
There's now an entry for every one of the 256 subjects featured between 1955 and 1964
The heavyweight boxer - widely considered the greatest - who died in June 2016
|Behind The Scenes:
Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley reveals the show's best kept secrets
|From the archives:|
Paralympian, life peer and noted champion for causes related to disability - recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in an interview from 2007
Popular television and radio broadcaster and former presenter of the BBC children's programme Blue Peter interviewed in 2010
| Charlie CAIROLI
In an interview recorded in 2012 Charlie's son Charlie Jr recalls his father's career as Britain's most famous clown and his appearance on This Is Your Life
The actor and television presenter recalls his 1983 tribute in an interview recorded in 2013
Nick Wisdom - interviewed in 2012 - recalls his father and his involvement with Norman's second This Is Your Life tribute