Lynda BELLINGHAM (1948-2014)

Lynda Bellingham
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THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Lynda Bellingham, actress, was surprised by Michael Aspel on the set of the television sitcom Second Thoughts, at London Weekend Television's South Bank studios.

Lynda has appeared in many theatre, film and TV roles, including the television drama series All Creatures Great and Small. She is fondly remembered as the head of the family in the Oxo television adverts during the 1980s.

“Best offer I’ve had all year!”

Lynda Bellingham recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in March 2012

Screenshots of Lynda Bellingham This Is Your Life

Lynda Bellingham's autobiography

Lynda recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in her autobiography Lost and Found, reproduced here with the kind permission of the author...

During one season of Second Thoughts, in 1993, I was caught by Michael Aspel and the big red book. I had often said to Nunzio if ever they ask you whether I’d like to be on This Is Your Life, to please say yes. He always said he would refuse because: ‘I don’t want to sit on the television while they introduce all your fucks!’ I tried to explain it was not quite like that, but to no avail. Thank God my mum got to hear about it and helped organise the guest list.

It was the last programme ever to be made at Thames Television Studios at Teddington. I had been to several sessions of This Is Your Life for other people over the years, some when it was still Eamonn Andrews, the original host, and a few with Michael Aspel. What the audience see in terms of surprise guests who appear on the screen is nothing to the party afterwards, where the studio is full of everyone who has ever been in your life. It was fantastic. What a night we had. It didn’t finish until 6am.

We didn’t start filming until after midnight because they surprised me while I was recording an episode of Second Thoughts. We had been told we had to do a retake and Jimmy was going to come in and start the scene again with the line, ‘I just went to the pub to get a bottle of wine.’

I had my back to him on the sofa so I couldn’t see him. The director shouted ‘Action!’ and in came Jimmy. I heard him say: ‘I just went to the pub and you would never believe who I met.’ I didn’t really take in what he was saying because I thought he had gone wrong and was about to have a wobbly. I swung round nervously to see Jimmy standing there with Michael Aspel. The audience in the studio were all applauding and cheering. I thought it was Jimmy’s This Is Your Life and I was thinking, ‘Oh dear, he won’t like this,’ because he’s a very private man, but then suddenly Michael was talking to me and handing me the big red book. It was so wonderful.

I was driven from the studios at Waterloo to Teddington studios. All the way down in the car, I swigged champagne and mentally ran through everyone I could remember in my life. I didn’t want to let the side down and not know who anyone was: it was always so awful on that programme when they introduced someone and it was obvious that the star didn’t have a clue who it was! I had to be kept isolated because the producers do not want anyone to spoil the surprise or talk to you about anything. But in my case, they had to let me phone my mum because she was going to be unable to appear as she was very ill with pneumonia. Poor dear Mum, she was so upset – she would have loved so much to have held court! My dad spoke in his usual reserved way and also my sister Jean, who was brilliant and gave a lovely account of the family.

They have a policy with This Is Your Life that you are allowed a couple of guests from overseas. Budget permitting, obviously. When I was waiting in the room to start the show I was thinking of two dear friends I hoped might fly over. Wally Michaels from Canada and Bryn Lloyd from California. No such luck. What Nunzio had done was use the flights available to bring over his mates from Italy for a freebie. As usual it was all about him.

When I came on and sat down next to him in the studio, I could feel the waves of tension emanating from him. This was going to be a nightmare. If anyone came on that I had slept with what was I going to do? I just crossed my fingers and prayed that Mum, Dad and Nik Grace all knew what he was like, and had arranged things accordingly. Michael Aspel told me years after the event that he had never seen a man so like a coiled spring. He said people were phoning in asking why Lynda Bellingham’s husband never smiled. I was so nervous and so aware of everything I said. But we got through it OK and I had a fabulous time.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 854
  • Subject No: 843
  • Broadcast date: Wed 27 Jan 1993
  • Broadcast time: 7-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Sun 13 Dec 1992
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 33
  • Edition: 18
  • Code Name: Cube

on the guest list...

  • Nunzio Peloso - husband
  • Donald Bellingham - father
  • Jean - sister
  • Barbara - sister
  • Julia Sawalha
  • Belinda Lang
  • Christopher Biggins
  • Jack Tinker
  • Michael & Robert - sons
  • Nickolas Grace
  • Chris Beetles
  • Leo Dolan
  • Gareth Hunt
  • Sheila McIntosh
  • Joanna Dolan
  • Luke Dolan
  • Jimmy Jewel
  • Michael Redfern
  • Alison Reynolds
  • Blair McKihan
  • Colin McCoy
  • Joan Kemp-Welch
  • Peter Moffatt
  • Christopher Timothy
  • Jean Heywood
  • Peter Davison
  • Litz Pisk
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Colin Baker

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Elizabeth Ross
  • Writer: Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Brian Klein, Malcolm Morris
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • Associate Producer: John Graham
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