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...                
                 
Nicholas Winton   Dudley Moore   Susannah York   Peter Shilton   John Peel
Nicholas WINTON
The recently knighted humanitarian was honoured in 2003
  Dudley MOORE
A rare two-part edition from 1987 - filmed in Hollywood - featuring the actor and comedian
  Susannah YORK
The leading actress was handed the Big Red Book in 1983
  Peter SHILTON
The Southampton FC goalkeeper was caught out in 1986
  John PEEL
A 1996 edition celebrating the BBC Radio 1 disc jockey
                 
                 
Arthur English   John Bardon   Reg Gutteridge   Elmer Bernstein   Jim Davidson
Arthur ENGLISH
The comedian turned actor was surprised for a 1978 broadcast
  John BARDON
The EastEnders actor was caught out for a 2003 edition
  Reg GUTTERIDGE
A 1994 edition features the boxing journalist and commentator
  Elmer BERNSTEIN
The American film composer was honoured in 2003
  Jim DAVIDSON
The comedian was surprised in 1984
                 
                 
                 
Recent additions...                
                 
Charlie Drake   Ranulph Fiennes   David Berglas   Noel Purcell   Lulu
Charlie DRAKE
Chris Drake remembers his father, the comedian and recipient of two Big Red Books in an exclusive interview
  Ranulph FIENNES
In another exclusive the explorer recalls an aspect of his 1982 surprise
  David BERGLAS
The illusionist looks back at his 1991 tribute which was broadcast on Christmas Day
  Noel PURCELL
The Irish character actor was surprised in 1958 for a St Patrick's Day special
  Lulu
The singer and actress was caught out in 1972
                 
                 
Ted Heath   Barbara Taylor Bradford   Thomas Salmon   Mary Chipperfield   Adam Faith
Ted HEATH
The musician and big band leader was surprised in 1959
  Barbara TAYLOR BRADFORD
The novelist was celebrated in a 1990 edition
  Thomas SALMON
The award winning humanitarian was surprised in 1960
  Mary CHIPPERFIELD
The circus performer and animal trainer was honoured in 1977
  Adam FAITH
A 1971 edition celebrates the pop singer turned actor
                 
                 
                 
Contents:                
                 
This Is Your Life titles   Diana Dors   This Is Your Life set   TV Times article   Anita Harris
SERIES
Check out the subject lists year by year - from series 1 to 43
  SUBJECTS
Search the full A-Z list of 1104 subjects from Abbot to Zarb
  FEATURES
Discover more about the show and lives of those it featured
  ARTICLES
Delve into the archives for more insight into the show's history
  INTERVIEWS
An expanding online archive of exclusive interviews
                 
                 
                 
Spotlight:                
                 
This Is Your Life Big Red Book   This Is Your Life Timeline   US This Is Your Life title card   Richard Gordon This Is Your Life   This Is Your Life Behind The Scenes feature
The Big Red Book:
The life and times of the book that became the show's icon.
  Timeline
A chronology of the show's fifty year history, including highlights, achievements and a few surprises
  Birth of Life
A look back at the genesis of the programme - how it all began as a small segment on American radio
  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:                
                 
Paddie O'Neil   Sylvia Young   Lynda Bellingham   Googie Withers   Wendy Toye
Paddie O'NEIL
Actor Gareth Marks recalls his mother - actress, singer and wife of Alfred Marks, surprised in 1980
  Sylvia YOUNG
Founder and principal of the famous theatre school - surprised in 1998 and interviewed in 2013
  Lynda BELLINGHAM
In an interview recorded in 2012, the actress, broadcaster and author, who was a subject in 1993
  Googie WITHERS
Actress Joanna McCallum remembers her involvement with the 1971 show that honoured her mother, in an interview recorded in 2012
  Wendy TOYE
Wendy’s nephew Peter recalls the 1992 show that paid tribute to the versatile dancer, choreographer, actress and director, in an interview from 2010