A Dancer's Life
A Dancer's Life

also honoured...

Lionel BLAIR

6 March 1974

Actor, choreographer, tap dancer and television presenter

related pages...

This Is Your Life regularly paid tribute to those professionals who achieved fame and fortune in their particular field, including the many creative endeavors and disciplines of culture and the arts.


Here is a look at those from the world of dance - classical, contemporary and modern - who have received the Big Red Book* treatment...

Louie Ramsay Louie RAMSAY
27 January 1958
Eamonn interrupted the pantomime at the King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, to surprise the actress and dancer who had recently recovered from Reiter’s syndrome, which left her paralysed for some time, but from which she had made a full recovery.
Guests include Jimmy Logan, Hattie Jacques and a recorded message from Wilfred Pickles.
Alicia Markova Alicia Markova Alicia MARKOVA CBE
11 January 1960
In the first of her two tributes, the ballerina was surprised by Eamonn at London’s Royal Festival Hall during a prize giving ceremony. Markova was handed the This Is Your Life book, which had been ‘disguised’ as a present.
Guests include Marie Rambert, Margot Fonteyn and a recorded message from Jessie Matthews.
Madame Vacani Madame VACANI
23 January 1961
Marguerite Vacani - founder of the Vacani School of Dancing - England’s foremost social dancing school for children - was surprised by Eamonn at the BBC Television Theatre.
Vacani held private classes for the Royal Princess and future Queen, Elizabeth, and her sister Margaret Rose.
Elizabeth Twistington Higgins Elizabeth TWISTINGTON HIGGINS
6 November 1961
Elizabeth was surprised by Eamonn at London's Middlesex Hospital. At the height of her career as a classical ballet dancer she was struck down by polio. Despite being almost totally paralysed from the neck down, she established her own dance troupe and became a successful painter by mouth.
Marie Rambert Marie Rambert Dame Marie RAMBERT DBE
26 February 1962
The influential dancer, teacher and founder of Ballet Rambert was surprised by Eamonn at the Mercury Theatre, after arriving before the production team were ready for her!
Guests include the famous Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina, noted as Principal Artist with the Imperial Ballet and Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.
Ninette de Valois Ninette de Valois Dame Ninette de VALOIS DBE
9 April 1964
The founder of The Royal Ballet was surprised by Eamonn in the home of her longtime collaborator Sir Frederick Ashton.
The tribute is recorded at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and includes performances from former students of The Royal Ballet, as well as guests Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolph Nureyev.
Beryl Grey Beryl Grey Beryl GREY CBE
10 April 1974

The ballerina was surprised by Eamonn, in her role as director of the London Festival Ballet, at the company's Donmar rehearsal theatre in London’s Covent Garden. Beryl - who became the first Western guest artist to dance with Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet - was greeted by Dame Alicia Markova and Dame Ninette de Valois.

Anton Dolin Anton Dolin Anton DOLIN
12 April 1978
The ballet dancer and choreographer, known for his work with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, and his own Markova-Dolin company, was surprised by Eamonn during a rehearsal at the Royal Academy of Dance.
Guests include founder of the Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois, and Princess Antoinette of Monaco.
Margaret Kelly Margaret Kelly

Margaret KELLY
3 May 1979
Broadcast as a ‘special’ on Election Night, this edition featured the Irish dancer who became known as Miss Bluebell after establishing the Bluebell Girls dance troupe.
Eamonn surprised Margaret at the Paris Lido and the tribute was recorded in a Paris television studio on a set adorned with feather-clad dancers.
Wayne Sleep Wayne Sleep Wayne SLEEP
28 October 1981
Eamonn surprised the dancer at the curtain call of the then new musical Cats, at the New London Theatre, a previous home of This Is Your Life.
Guests include three former ‘dance’ subjects - Dame Alicia Markova, Anton Dolin and Dame Ninette de Valois, and flown in especially as the final guest - Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Gillian Lynne Gillian LYNNE
15 February 1989
Michael became the Phantom of the Opera in order to surprise the celebrated West End choreographer on the stage of Her Majesty’s Theatre, London – current home to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which Gillian had choreographed. Gillian’s lively show includes high kicks, top hats and canes, and tributes from Dame Beryl Grey and Moira Shearer.
WendyToye WendyToye Wendy TOYE
29 January 1992
The dancer, choreographer, actress and film and theatre director, was surprised by Michael onstage at the Wimbledon Theatre following a performance of her production of The Sound Of Music.
Wendy is greeted by, among others, singer Cleo Laine and former ballet dancer Dame Alicia Markova.
Peggy Spencer Peggy Spencer Peggy SPENCER MBE
17 March 1993
The ballroom dancer and choreographer - long associated with television's Come Dancing - was surprised by Michael at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls.
Guests include former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes and Eric Morley - who introduced ballroom dancing onto BBC Television.
Alicia Markova Alicia Markova Dame Alicia MARKOVA DBE
4 October 1995
For her second This Is Your Life tribute, Alicia - now Dame Alicia - was surprised by Michael in the crush bar of London's Royal Opera House.
A diverse range of guests include comedian Jimmy Tarbuck, dancers Wayne Sleep, Dame Beryl Grey and Freddie Franklin, and a personally written message - read by Michael - from Princess Diana.
Babs Powell Babs Powell Babs POWELL
15 November 2001
The ‘dancer turned daredevil’, and wife of actor Robert Powell, was surprised by Michael at a lunch held in her honour at London’s St Katharine’s Docks.
The former dancer with Pans People - who regularly appeared on BBC television's Top of the Pops - is now an active charity worker who recently completed the BT Global Challenge - a round the world yacht race.

*obviously the pre-1970 subjects were surprised by a different coloured book - see the Big Red Book feature for full details