... 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."
Jennifer Jankel remembers her father, the musician and band leader – and recipient of two Big Red Books in an exclusive interview
The actress - and wife of John Alderton - featured in a 1972 edition
The actor - surprised two years after his wife Pauline Collins
Former Barnardos boy who became a succesful author featured in a 1979 broadcast
The popular entertainer and comedienne honoured with two Big Red Books - in 1978 and 1994
A 1983 programme paying tribute to the naturalist, zookeeper and conservationist
The first true global superstar of rugby union in an edition broadcast in 2002
The teacher turned comedian and television personality surprised in 1977
A 1989 edition spotlighting the classical soprano, actress, musician and dancer
Another edition from 1972 featuring the actor, known to millions of TV viewers as Alf Garnett
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
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 comedy actor - surprised in 1986 - who died in January 2017
|Behind The Scenes:
Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley reveals the show's best kept secrets
|From the archives:|
The actress remembered for her roles in many British films of the 1940s - recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in an interview from 2011
Popular singer and songwriter interviewed in 2010
| Sylvia YOUNG
In an interview recorded in 2013 the founder and principal of the famous theatre school recalls her appearance on This Is Your Life
The Formula One racing driver recalls his 1959 tribute in an interview recorded in 2013
Television presenter and actor - best known for presenting the ITV game show Sale of the Century - interviewed in 2015