Bob CHAMPION (1948-)

Bob Champion
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Equestrian Life

From horse racing to show jumping


THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Bob Champion, jump jockey, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in Chipping Campden.

At the height of a successful career as a jockey, Bob was diagnosed with testicular cancer in July 1979.

Following successful treatment, Bob won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti – a win viewed by many as a great triumph over adversity.

Eamonn surprised Bob on his wedding day as the bride and groom walked out of St James Church, in the Cotswold market town.

“I’ll kill that Derek!”

Bob Champion recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in March 2010

Screenshots of Bob Champion This Is Your Life

The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book

Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley recalls the experience of this particular edition of This Is Your Life in his book This Is Your Life: The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book...

Few of the nation's jockeys could summon the sheer guts and determination of a National Hunt jockey whose story touched all hearts.

Monday 12 October 1981, saw the Life team smuggled into the pretty Cotswold village of Chipping Camden. Bob Champion was getting married at the parish church of St James. Guests included Terry Biddlecombe, John Francome, Richard Pitman, Fred Winter, Lord John Oaksey, John Rickman and Josh Gifford.

Wedding bells were ringing, confetti was being thrown, when an 'uninvited' guest, Eamonn Andrews, stepped forward outside the church. We recorded the programme in the wedding reception marquee.

That year, Bob Champion had not only won the Grand National, he had won a battle against cancer after being given just eight months to live.

Like something from a film script, his favourite horse, Aldaniti, had 'broken down' twice, having strained a tendon on the same foreleg on both occasions, and, like the jockey, seemed certain never to race again.

But in his hospital bed, fighting the cancer and undergoing the most painful treatments Bob Champion told trainer Josh Gifford, 'Never mind, Aldaniti and myself will just have to make our comeback together.'

From then on, his dream was to win the Grand National on his favourite horse. The odds against them doing it must have been incalculable.

But then so was the depth of bravery and determination of rider - and horse. They made it.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 574
  • Subject No: 570
  • Broadcast date: Tues 13 Oct 1981
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8pm
  • Recorded: Mon 12 Oct 1981
  • Venue: Wedding Marquee!
  • Series: 22
  • Edition: 1
  • Code Name: Wonder

on the guest list...

  • Fred Winter
  • Richard Pitman
  • Jonathan Powell
  • Bob Davis
  • Terry Biddlecombe
  • John Francome
  • Bob & Phyllis Champion
  • Mary - sister
  • John Rickman
  • Howard Thompson
  • Derek Thompson
  • Jim & Sally Hold
  • Ian Watkinson
  • Josh Gifford
  • Burly Cocks
  • Babs Cocks

production team...

  • Writers: Tom Brennand, Roy Bottomley
  • Producer: Jack Crawshaw
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 22 subjects: Bob Champion > Bill Fraser > Wayne Sleep > Ian Botham > Cannon and Ball > Rob Buckman > Angela Rippon > Julia McKenzie > Jackie Milburn > Paul Shane > Peter Adamson > Kiri Te Kanawa > Mickie Most > Anita Harris > Mike Brace > Faith Brown > Robin Bailey > Rod Hull > Bob Monkhouse > John Toshack > Wally Herbert > Joe Gormley > Roger Whittaker > Alan Whicker > Peter Davison > Douglas Bader