Sir John BARBIROLLI (1899-1970)

Sir John Barbirolli
related pages...

Stories Behind This Is Your Life

A review of the show’s second series

Classical Life

A symphony of subjects from the world of classical music

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Sir John Barbirolli, cellist and conductor of the Halle Orchestra in Manchester, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the BBC’s Dickenson Road Studios in Manchester.

This edition was the first ‘outside broadcast’ for the show.

“intense pleasure to me and particularly my dear mother,..... a memory I shall treasure for many years to come”

Sir John Barbirolli briefly recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in the show’s Flashback programme broadcast in June 1957

Eamonn Andrews presents Sir John Barbirolli with his This Is Your Life book and Sir John Barbirolli on This Is Your Life - from Lady Barbirolli’s collection, courtesy of The Barbirolli Society (click images to enlarge)

Newspaper article

Manchester Guardian 23 September 1955


“This is Your Life” by our Television Critic

Our London Correspondence note yesterday about Abram Chasins, who was brought over from New York by the BBC to greet Sir John Barbirolli in “This is Your Life” on Monday, asked whether some day the victim of one of these programmes may walk out on the viewers and leave Eamonn Andrews with a problem. This is what some television critics have been wondering for a long time; they have also been wondering just what it is that makes people suffer surprise, bewilderment, and occasionally annoyance without protest.

First, it is obviously that they do not like to upset a whole programme and refuse to play, because the thing has started before they realise. So except for some few who really do not mind, the programme is mainly carried through on the good manners of the victim, however much he dislikes it. One can feel very well, sometimes, the amount of nervous strain that is in the air, while Mr Andrews is exerting the kind of soothing control that a good nannie applies to a nervous or awkward child. Then again, it must be remembered that the close relations and friends of the victim are in the plot and that if they did not co-operate, the subject could never be brought to the cameras.

That the BBC is finding it increasingly difficult to trap people into “This is Your Life” is shown by the devices they use; obviously no one will now go into the theatre or studio where the programme is done, lest they should be picked out of the audience. Whatever the entertainment value, the deceptions involved are unpleasant and questionable.

One would not go so far as Lord Lucas of Chilworth, who said in the House of Lords on Wednesday that “almost all“ television programmes were deplorable. The BBC does some good things, especially in drama and in “documentaries.” But it is in programmes like “This is Your Life” and “Is this your problem?” that it tries to compete with independent television, and in doing so drops its usual standards. Of the two “Is this your Problem?” is the more discreditable, for here, under the excuse of helping people is an unashamed exploitation of private lives and emotions for mass entertainment..

programme details...

  • Edition No: 25
  • Subject No: 25
  • Broadcast live: Mon 21 Jan 1957
  • Broadcast time: 7.15-7.45pm
  • Venue: BBC Manchester
  • Series: 2
  • Edition: 10

on the guest list...

  • Yvonne Arnaud
  • Walter Pepper
  • Winifred Small
  • Lady Barbirolli (Evelyn Rothwell) - wife
  • Andre Mangeot
  • Cynolwyn Pugh
  • Abram Chasins
  • Mrs McNab
  • Kenneth Crickmore
  • Fred Roberts
  • Messages from:
  • Arthur Rubenstein
  • Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Fritz Kreisler
  • Mrs Barbirolli - mother

external links...

production team...

  • Researchers: Peter Moore, Nigel Ward
  • Writer: Gale Pedrick
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
with special thanks to Paul Brooks of the Barbirolli Society for his contribution to this page
Series 2 subjects: Peter Scott > Ada Reeve > Peter Methven > Susan Ryder > Harry S Pepper > Compton Mackenzie > Maud Fairman > Billy Smart > Brian Hession > John Barbirolli > Duncan Guthrie > Esmond Knight > Sammy McCarthy > Edwin Madron > Diana Dors > Parry Jones > Percy Flood > G H Elliott > Stuart Hibberd