... 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."
The boxer's family recall his 1972 This Is Your Life appearance in an exclusive interview
|Zsa Zsa Gabor
A 1994 edition featuring the glamorous Hollywood actress and socialite
A tribute to the cabaret entertainer - surprised in 1975
The Australian born disc jockey celebrated in a 1987 programme
The entertainer - who was honoured with two Big Red Books - in 1973 and 1994
Broadcast in 1984 - a tribute to a courageous and award winning lifeboatman
The actress - whose career spans seven decades - surprised in 1980
Irish businessman and founder of Eddie Jordan Grand Prix celebrated in 2000
A 1995 edition pays tribute to the character actor - Q in the James Bond films
The Leeds United manager surprised at the city's Queens Hotel for a 1974 broadcast
The actor recalls his 1982 This Is Your Life experience in an exclusive interview
The ballerina - and recipient of two Big Red Books from 1960 and 1995
The snooker player – surprised in 1981 – affectionately known as the ‘People’s Champion’
Film producer honoured in a 1990 edition - billed as Thames Television’s 501st, in front of an audience of past subjects
A 1982 edition paid tribute to the former model who became a popular television personality
|The Beverley Sisters
The first edition to honour three subjects – in a New Year’s Eve broadcast from 1969
Retired Labour Party politician and Speaker of the House of Commons – surprised in 1983
The popular novelist celebrated in a 1993 edition recorded in Hollywood
The character actor of stage, screen and television – surprised in 1976
A 1984 edition honouring the Royal Air Force officer, left-handed golfer, author and Member of Parliament
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
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
The 1978 tribute to the much loved broadcaster who passed away in January 2016
|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