The Big Red Book - a celebration of This Is Your Life...
Big Red Book

... 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."

New additions...   subjects from the 1981-2 series...            
Douglas Bader   Bob Monkhouse   Kiri Te Kanawa   Cannon and Ball   Angela Rippon
Douglas BADER
A specially extended edition for the World War Two Royal Air Force flying ace
The comedian and entertainer who received the This Is Your Life tribute twice – in 1982 and 2003
The New Zealand born soprano whose tribute was broadcast on Christmas Day
A joint tribute for the popular comedy double act
  Angela RIPPON
Journalist and newsreader who was the first female journalist permanently to present the BBC national television news
Wally Herbert   Joe Gormley   Wayne Sleep   Julia McKenzie   Ian Botham
Explorer, artist and writer, who spent 15 years exploring the wilderness regions of the polar world
The recently retired President of the National Union of Mineworkers
  Wayne SLEEP
The Royal Ballet trained dancer, currently appearing in the West End musical, Cats
Actress and singer, known for several West End musicals and ITV sitcoms


Cricketer who recently led England to the most spectacular and unpredictable recovery against Australia

Recent additions...                
Liza Goddard   Alvin Stardust   Alex Norton   Paul Daniels   Hylda Baker
The actress recalls her 1984 tribute in an exclusive interview
The actor and rock singer - and husband of Liza Goddard – was surprised a year later, in 1985
Scottish born actor who was the last actor handed the Big Red Book in the programme’s final series in 2003
A magical surprise from 1988 for television’s top rated magician
  Hylda BAKER
The comedienne and former music hall performer honoured in 1972
Ranulph Fiennes   Graham Cole   Ian Ogilvy   Frazer Hines   Dale Winton
The explorer was surprised shortly after his return from his three year long Transglobe Expedition in 1982
  Graham COLE
A 1997 edition featuring the actor best known for his role in ITV’s police drama series, The Bill
The actor - currently enjoying success as television's Simon Templer in The Saint - was caught out in 1979
  Frazer HINES
A 1992 edition paying tribute to the actor best known for television’s Doctor Who and Emmerdale
The television presenter was the first subject of the new millennium broadcast in January 2000
This Is Your Life titles   Barbara Windsor   This Is Your Life set   TV Times article   Jenny Seagrove
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
Series 16 titles   Timeline   Series 7 titles   Big Red Book   Behind The Scenes feature
Series 16
The full line up of subjects from the 26 episodes of This Is Your Life produced by Thames Television between 1975-76
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
  A Life Refused:
A look at the names who said 'No' to the Big Red Book.
  Behind The Scenes:
Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley reveals the show's best kept secrets
From the archives:                
Jean Kent   Vince Hill   Sylvia Young   Stirling Moss   Nicholas Parsons
The actress remembered for her roles in many British films of the 1940s - recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in an interview from 2011
  Vince HILL
Popular singer and songwriter interviewed in 2010
  Sylvia YOUNG
In an interview recorded in 2013 the founder and principal of the famous theatre school recalls her appearance on This Is Your Life
  Stirling MOSS
The Formula One racing driver recalls his 1959 tribute in an interview recorded in 2013
  Nicholas PARSONS
Television presenter and actor - best known for presenting the ITV game show Sale of the Century - interviewed in 2015