Frazer HINES (1944-)

Frazer Hines
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THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Frazer Hines, actor, was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of the ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, on the occasion of the soap's 20th anniversary.

Frazer studied acting at the Corona Theatre School and by the age of 10 had appeared in numerous feature films. From 1957 and throughout the 1960s, he performed a steady stream of roles in various television series, including The Silver Sword, Emergency – Ward 10, and Coronation Street.

His Doctor Who debut came in 1966, when he was cast to play the part of Jamie McCrimmon, the companion of the Second Doctor. Originally intended as a one-off guest character, Jamie became a regular member of the cast and Frazer appeared in the series until 1969.

After leaving Doctor Who, Frazer resumed the life of a jobbing actor until 1972, when he was cast in the soap opera Emmerdale Farm as Joe Sugden. In between making episodes of the soap he continued a career in the theatre and made occasional appearances in other television shows.

"What? This is a gag! I don't believe it!"

Screenshots of Frazer Hines This Is Your Life

Frazer Hine's autobiography

Frazer recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Films, Farms and Fillies...

I always thought I would know if my wife was ever having an affair – the secret phone calls, the wrong numbers, the hanging up if I walked in on her, the unexplained absences, the general air of guilt and furtiveness that surrounds it. But when it happens, you don’t always see it in that light. So Liz was behaving a little bit strangely. She would take a phone call and then tell me it had been a wrong number, even though she hadn’t announced our number to the caller. You don’t always leap immediately to the damning conclusion. What I also didn’t know was that she was planning my This Is Your Life.

I almost spoiled it though. I’m a keen traveller – if ever I have three or four days off, I want to go somewhere. (I’ve always thought the best job in television is Wish You Were Here. You see a different place every week. You explore it and talk about it, and tell the viewers what to do and what to see. Sounds grand to me.) Now, I had a week off, so I went to a travel agent on my way home and returned laden with brochures and stuff. Liz said, ‘What are you doing?’

‘In two weeks’ time we’ve got a week off. We could go here…’ I waved a brochure at her, ‘…or here, this looks marvellous…’

I was so full of enthusiasm that I didn’t notice how dismayed she looked.

‘… we’ll have a week’s holiday. We’ve been working hard, and you could do with a break as well, Liz…’

‘You know what,’ she said, ‘I must just pop down to the shops.’ And off she fled.

I later learned that what she had done was to jump into her car, scoot round the corner and phone Morag. ‘Morag, what are you doing? You’ve given Frazer a week off.’

‘Have I?’

‘He’s checked. He’s not on location that week, and he’s booking a foreign holiday!’

‘He can’t. That’s his This Is Your Life.’

‘You know that,’ said Liz. ‘And I know that. But Frazer doesn’t!’

‘And we can’t tell him!’

‘Well exactly.’

‘I see what you mean,’ said Morag, ‘Leave it with me.’

The next morning before I went to rehearsals the production secretary called to tell me that there might be an extra pick-up day during the week I was supposed to have off.

‘What pick-up day?’

‘We’re short on an episode, and you may be required to fill in some extra days.’

Curses! I got to work and there in my pigeon-hole was a revised schedule which noted that on the Friday of that week Frazer Hines was working with Clive Hornby on extra pick-up scenes on location at Esholt. I went home to Liz and said, ‘Unfortunately, darling, we can’t go on holiday because of this extra pick-up day. That’s the bad news.’

‘What’s the good news?’

‘I can go with my old pal John Warren to Doncaster Races.’ I was invited with Claire King to go to the Lauren Perrier Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on Friday.

‘How can you go?’

‘I can go for the lunch and watch the Champagne Stakes, and then be back on location for four o’clock.’

So Liz established that I would definitely be back on location at that time. Again, I didn’t notice that she was more than usually anxious about my punctuality.

This all went pretty much as planned. I left Doncaster on Friday afternoon sober enough to drive and act when I got to Esholt, only half wishing that I had been able to stay for the rest of the meeting and a few more glasses of champagne.

Then, I got stuck in terrible traffic. I phoned Jools, the receptionist with the great sexy voice, at Farsley. ‘It’s Frazer, Jools. I’m stuck in traffic at the top of Esholt Hill. Some poxy road works. Look, I’m going to try and get round the other way. Can you ring them on location?’

I didn’t know that Michael Aspel and his team were all set up outside the Woolpack, ready to interrupt me when I came to film my scene. They heard that I was about to come the wrong way into the village of Esholt. They all had to scarper into the Woolpack and hide.

I dashed out of my car, threw my Joe Sugden clothes on, and ran over the lines with Clive Hornby. Then we were driven up to the Woolpack. We rehearsed the scene a couple of times. Jack and Joe were having a pint, sitting outside at the table and talking. And then we were ready for a take.

The first take was brilliant. But the director wanted to do another one. We embarked on the second take. Halfway through it, Cy Chadwick came out and said, ‘Hello, there.’ Well, one is in character, and one knows the cameras are rolling. So one goes on with the scene. But a part of my back brain was acutely aware that he wasn’t in the first take. Madelaine came out of the pub, followed one by one by more members of the cast. Suddenly we were surrounded. Finally, Michael Aspel emerged from the pub. ‘Frazer Hines,’ he said, ‘This is your life.’

My first thought was: ‘This is the best joke the cast have ever played on me. They’ve tricked the trickster. After all, the practical jokes I have played on them! Michael Aspel must have been in town doing Dickie Bird, or somebody like that, and they’ve mocked up a This Is Your Life to take me in.’ So I didn’t believe him. He showed me the big red book with my name on the front, and it slowly dawned on me that it wasn’t a joke. It was for real.

I had appeared on so many other people’s This Is Your Life, but it didn’t occur to me they’d do me. They’d done Stan Richards. If I thought about it at all, I supposed they’d do Ronnie McGill next, or one of the other old-timers.

I’d often wondered what happened to the victim once they’d been caught – now I was to find out! I was whisked away, back to the studio with Morag and locked in a dressing-room with some sandwiches. I was already wearing a suit from the races, but a clean one, plus shirt, was in my dressing-room, with a note in the pocket from Liz, who’d obviously sent the clothes in: ‘Forgive me darling and have a wonderful evening, you deserve it, love wifey.’

I was so excited. I wondered who would be there. Did I have any skeletons in the cupboard? Of course I did, Charlie the skeleton who toured with me in Doctor in the House and is now in my study at home. He would be there. Anyone else, it all came back to me, Liz would be lying in bed next to me, quizzing me: who did I go to school with? Who was my best friend? Would she allow any ex-lovers to be there? I just couldn’t wait.

The time came and I went on to greet the audience. The show was such fun. A filmed insert from champion jockey. Peter Scudamore, Susie George, Liza, a ventriloquist act with Robin Askwith. Friends, relations and finally my beloved headmistress Rhona Knight – what a day and what a party afterwards.

I was greatly honoured to think that a television company might think I was worth all the time and energy and bother to do my life. It ranks as one of the proudest moments of my life. Thanks everyone!

programme details...

  • Edition No: 839
  • Subject No: 829
  • Broadcast date: Wed 14 Oct 1992
  • Recording date: Fri 11 Sep 1992
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Venue: Yorkshire Television
  • Series: 33
  • Edition: 3
  • Code name: Beans

on the guest list...

  • Cast of Emmerdale
  • Sheila Mercier
  • Stan Richards
  • Clive Hornby
  • Christopher Chittell
  • Liz Hobbs - wife
  • Roy - uncle
  • Mary Whiteford – aunt
  • Richard O’Sullivan
  • Bill Waddington
  • Richard Whittaker
  • Liz Whittaker
  • Myra Nesbitt
  • Susan George
  • Paul Elliott
  • Chris Moreno
  • Robin Askwith
  • Liza Goddard
  • Rona Knight
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Peter Scudamore
  • Deborah Watling
  • Leslie Crowther
  • Members of the Lord’s Taverners team

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Elizabeth Ross
  • Writer: Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Brian Klein, Malcolm Morris
  • Associate Producer: John Graham
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 33 subjects: Barbara Windsor > Dickie Bird > Frazer Hines > Pat Kerr > Juliet Mills > William Tarmey > Ellen Pollock > Tessa Sanderson > Peter Saunders > Anthony Newley > Bert Weedon > Glen Murphy > Les Dawson > John Surtees > Shirley Bassey > Albert and Michel Roux > Anthony Jones > Lynda Bellingham > Frank Bruno > Johnnie Hamp > Honor Blackman > Sister Aquinas > Roddy McDowall > Jimmy White > Peggy Spencer > Jackie Collins > Derek Fowlds > Nat Lofthouse > Ann Miller > George Melly