Max BYGRAVES (1922-2012)

Max Bygraves
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That's Entertainment

There's no business like show business


Eric Sykes

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Max Bygraves, entertainer, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews while rehearsing his new show, Do Re Mi, at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre.


Max began his career in show business impersonating Charlie Chaplin and Max Miller - learning his trade touring the country’s variety theatres. By the start of the 1950s he was a regular performer at the London Palladium, and throughout that decade he became more widely known through his various radio appearances.


He appeared with Judy Garland at New York’s Palace Theatre, after which he spent time in Hollywood, returning to the UK to present successful stage shows such as Wonderful Time and We’re Having a Ball.

Screenshots of Max Bygraves This Is Your Life (click images to enlarge)

Max Bygraves autobiography

Max briefly recalls aspects of his of This Is Your Life in his autobiography I Wanna Tell You A Story...


When the BBC were doing This Is Your Life, I was the subject for one of the programmes.


Max Miller came on, he talked about how he admired me, which you really have to do on that sort of programme, but made his exit with one of the biggest laughs in the programme when he said: “Don’t forget, son – always work hard – change your material – and never – never – tell blue jokes.”

Max Bygraves autobiography

And recalls a variation of the same story in his second autobiography After Thoughts...


I got to know Max fairly well; I worked on several variety bills with him and we did a season together at the Palladium. When Eamonn Andrews surprised me with his red book for This Is Your Life, Max came on and when Eamonn asked him if he had any advice to pass on to this young fellow (me) with the same name, Max said, ‘Yes – always be on time – always work hard on your material and never – never – tell a blue joke!’ Coming from the most ribald performer of the day, he walked off to the loudest applause of the night.


That was in 1961, when Eamonn Andrews presented This Is Your Life for the BBC. When he passed away recently, I was reminded of the time when he, Tommy Cooper and I were having a drink after one of the shows, Eamonn said to Tommy and me, ‘Do you know – we three are the most impersonated men in Great Britain today – if anything happens to us, half the impressionists in the country won’t have an act.’

programme details...

  • Edition No: 164
  • Subject No: 165
  • Broadcast date: Mon 2 Oct 1961
  • Broadcast time: 7.55-8.30pm
  • Recorded: Mon 4 Sep 1961 7.30-8.15pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 7
  • Edition: 1

on the guest list...

  • Bessie Braddock MP
  • Mr & Mrs Bygraves - parents
  • 'Blossom' - wife
  • Christine - daughter
  • Maxine - daughter
  • Anthony - son
  • Cecil Landeau
  • Joe Loss
  • Peter Brough
  • Nurse Edith Milbrandt (Mrs Eric Sykes)
  • Val Parnell
  • Pricella the pantomime duck (aka Harry Cranley)
  • Piccola Pupa
  • pupils from Dr Barnardos Naval Training School, Parkstone
  • pupils from St Vincent's Catholic Primary School, Mill Hill
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Max Miller
  • Eric Sykes

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Nickola Sterne
  • Writer: Nickola Sterne
  • Director: Yvonne Littlewood
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 7 subjects: Max Bygraves > Mario Borrelli > Alastair Pearson > Brian Rix > Derek Dooley > Elizabeth Twistington Higgins > Sandy MacPherson > Ronald Menday > Harry Day > Peter Finch > Charlie Drake > Timothy Cain > Isabella Woodford > David Park > Sefton Delmer > Coco the Clown > Jenny Gleed > Arthur E Davies > Tom Evans > David Pelham James > Kenneth Horne > Marie Rambert > David Butler > Glen Moody > Kenneth Cooke > Tom Breaks > Dora Bryan > Bob Oatway > Acker Bilk > Hester Meakin > Joe Filliston > Ellaline Terriss