... 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 actor and television and radio presenter recalls his This Is Your Life experience in an exclusive interview
The comedian, writer and actor and recipient of two Big Red Books from 1973 and 1995
The three times World Heavyweight Champion surprised for the 1978 Christmas Day broadcast
Yvonne - a Special Operations Executive during the Second World War - was surprised in 1989
In the show's first transatlantic edition, the songwriter - known for his Broadway musicals - was surprised in New York’s Time Square in 1978
The nursing sister - known as Sister Mac - was surprised at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in 1986
The actor - surprised in 1989 - requested a post-credit apology for not including mention of his late partner, Geoffrey Burridge, in the programme
The tennis player surprised in 1977 - the year she won the women's singles championship at Wimbledon
In the production team’s first visit to Hollywood, the popular star of numerous musicals was surprised in 1984
The internationally popular recording star is the only person to receive the This Is Your Life tribute THREE times - in 1964, 1975 and 1996
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 1974 tribute to the versatile screen actor who passed away in 2015
A feature on the individuals who steered the show over the decades - the producers
The actress - created a Dame in the recent New Year's Honours list - was surprised in 1992
|From the archives:|
The show’s youngest ever subject - surprised at the age of 17 - recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an interview from 2009
Northern Irish comedian recalls his tribute - which was broadcast on the eve of Eamonn Andrews's death - in an interview from 2010
| John McArdle
The actor - interviewed in 2012 and best known for his roles in television's Brookside and Mersey Beat - was surprised in the show's final series
Television producer - responsible for over 2000 television productions - including comedy shows such as The Comedians, interviewed in 2011
In an interview recorded in 2013, writer and historian Stephen Bourne remembers the American singer and actress