John SURTEES MBE (1934-2017)

John Surtees
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THIS IS YOUR LIFE - John Surtees, Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver, was surprised by Michael Aspel, with the help of Nigel Mansell, at London's Grosvenor House Hotel, at a gala dinner arranged by Autosport.

John - the son of a south London motorbike dealer - was a teenage prodigy on racing bikes. After making his name in national races, he raced in the 500cc motorcycle world championships with the MV Agusta factory team, for whom he scored 22 wins at the top level before switching to cars. He made his debut for Lotus and later joined the Ferrari team.

He was a four-time 500cc motorcycle World Champion – winning that title in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 – and the Formula One World Champion in 1964, and remains the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels.

He founded the Surtees Racing Organisation team that competed as a constructor in Formula One, Formula 2 and Formula 5000 from 1970 to 1978.

“I just hate to think what's in there!”

Screenshots of John Surtees This Is Your Life

The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book

Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley recalls the experience of this particular edition of This Is Your Life in his book This Is Your Life: The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book...

Nigel Mansell turned up as Michael Aspel’s ‘chauffeur’ to drop him at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane on the evening of 6 December 1992. The occasion was the annual ‘Autosport’ dinner, and we had a surprise for a man who has been world champion first on two wheels, then on four – John Surtees.

We flew in Barry Sheene from his home in Brisbane. Former world champion on four wheels Jackie Stewart was also there.

And we had a greeting from Argentinian motor-racing legend Juan Fangio, who spoke to John in Italian, the language they learned when they both raced for Ferrari.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 850
  • Subject No: 839
  • Broadcast date: Wed 30 Dec 1992
  • Broadcast time: 7-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Sun 6 Dec 1992
  • Venue: Grosvenor House Hotel
  • Series: 33
  • Edition: 14
  • Code name: Flag

on the guest list...

  • Jane - wife
  • Dorothy - mother
  • Dorothy - sister
  • Barry Sheene
  • Raymond Baxter
  • Sammy Miller
  • Bill Lomas
  • Arturo Magni
  • Ken Tyrrell
  • Derek Bell
  • Jackie Stewart
  • Willie Green
  • Edwina - daughter
  • Leonora - daughter
  • Henry - son
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Stirling Moss
  • Jack Brabham
  • Eric Broadley
  • Juan Fangio

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Sarah Ann Cockcroft
  • Writer: Norman Giller
  • 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