Producing Life
T Leslie Jackson credit

roll call of producers...

T Leslie JACKSON

Executive Producer – Series 9

Producer - Series 1 - 8


Vere LORRIMER

Producer – Series 9

Director – Series 3 - 8 (various)


Robert TYRRELL

Producer – Series 10 - 11


Malcolm MORRIS

Producer – Series 12 – 14 / 23 – 36

Co-Director – Series 31 - 33 (various)

OB Director – Series 34 - 35 (various)


Jack CRAWSHAW

Series Producer – Series 38 – 43

Editorial Consultant - Series 37

Producer – Series 15 – 22

Programme Editor – Series 14

Writer – Series 10 - 14 (various)

Researcher – Series 10 - 11 (various)


John GRAHAM

Producer – Series 37

Associate Producer – Series 30 – 36

Programme Associate – Series 23 - 24

Researcher – Series 19 - 22 (various)


Sue GREEN

Producer – Series 38 – 43

Associate Producer – Series 37

Researcher – Series 26 – 36 (various)


related pages...

This Is Your Life: The show that can never be fully rehearsed

TV Mirror goes behind the scenes of the first series


What goes on behind that Green Door

Behind the scenes with the production team


This is Leslie Jackson’s Life

Interview with This Is Your Life’s first producer


This is Your Life

Producer Leslie Jackson discusses the aim of the programme


Life Is Full Of Surprises

Producer Robert Tyrrell reveals some ‘cloak and dagger’ tactics


Life Is What They Make It...

New producer Malcolm Morris reveals more behind-the-scenes secrets


Being gentlemen solves many of Life’s problems

Brief interview with new producer Jack Crawshaw


Mr Crawshaw ... This is your nightmare

An interview with This Is Your Life producer Jack Crawshaw


The deuce of a job getting Ginny’s jigsaw to fit

The story of ‘piecing’ together the ‘Life’ of tennis star Virginia Wade


Royalty plans future as opera-dance venue in Thames TV tie-up

A feature on This Is Your Life's new home!


This is the secret life

Jack Crawshaw looks back on his years working on This Is Your Life


How they asked Aspel

Michael Aspel tells of the ‘cloak and dagger’ way he became the new presenter


Secrets Of 'Life': The ones who got away

Producer Malcolm Morris exposes some production secrets


The day we lost The Big Red Book

Further secrets revealed by producer Malcolm Morris


Obituaries: T Leslie Jackson

Press obituaries for This Is Your Life's first producer


The Night Gary Glitter Fans Nearly Killed Me!

Malcolm Morris reveals some heart-stopping moments


Vere Lorrimer

The Stage obituary for This Is Your Life's former producer

“...more people watch This Is Your Life standing up than sitting down - they walk in through the room and they see This Is Your Life and they say 'I wonder who it is', and they stay and watch it - and that's where it gets it's audience from...”


So said Leslie Jackson - the first producer of This Is Your Life. A television producer oversees all aspects of a television programme – they control the look, feel and content of the show – and in the case of This Is Your Life, are involved with selecting subjects, planning research, finalising the guest list and tweaking the final script – as well as dealing with a million other things.


It’s a credit to those who held the post of Producer of ‘Life’ that it maintained its position as a television institution over such a long period of time – almost 50 years. The style of presentation changed but the format essentially remained the same, ensuring the basic idea of telling a good story and celebrating a worthy life remained constant.


Here then, we discover more about those who had final credit on each show…

T Leslie JACKSON


T Leslie Jackson

Born in Stretford, Manchester, in 1910, of non-theatrical parents, Leslie attended a local school before moving to Ireland with his family. The fact that he left school at the age of 14 caused consternation when later noted at BBC boards. He worked in a flour mill, then had a short career as a professional boxer, before joining the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and then the Manchester Repertory Company, as an actor, later becoming a stage director.


During the summer the company played Oldham, Macclesfield and Rhyl. The producer was James Bould, later to become one of the first outstanding television designers. Also in the company was a young drama student, Joanne Spoonly, who became Jackson's wife in 1944. He volunteered for the Royal Navy during the Munich crisis of 1938 but was not called up until 1940. When theatres closed in 1939, he joined the Manchester Fire Brigade.


Alf Draper, a naval colleague and later a scriptwriter on This Is Your Life, met him after D-day when he was a naval lieutenant in charge of Tank Landing Craft. He describes Jackson as ''a fly-away- looking chap with the tenacity of a heavyweight'', adding, ''we sailed from Liverpool to go out East in a convoy of tank landing craft, we hit a tempest-like storm and only four out of 12 ships survived. He literally stayed on the bridge day and night and had no doubts that we would survive. He was planning what he would do in the theatre. He went to war with a prompt copy of Sean O'Casey's Juno And The Paycock.''


Jackson served in the Russian convoys, meeting James Bould again in Sevastopol and on his return to England in Falmouth. When discharged from the Navy in 1945 he joined John Fernald's Reunion Theatre, a company of ex-servicemen that included Kenneth More.


Jackson joined BBC Television in 1946 as a studio manager. Contemporary definition describes this as ''the producer's representative on the floor'', and in that capacity ''Jacko'', as he was known to the post-war staff and artists at Alexandra Palace, had charge of every kind of production in the studio from London Town, an early magazine programme with Richard Dimbleby, to musicals with West End stars like Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge and Leslie Henson.


Television was not strictly departmentalised in the late Forties, and news was largely the province of radio. In television, drama and light entertainment were of prime importance. In the 1947-48 issue of British Television T.L. Jackson has a single line entry: ''Is a studio manager at Alexandra Palace''. By May 1950 he was the subject of a two-page article, entitled ''Jacko of the Shirt''.


Pre-war studio managers had worn a collar and tie, and Jackson's open-necked red shirt was unorthodox. But there was a practical purpose behind his dress - he could easily be identified on the studio floor, where live television frequently lived up to the term ''organised chaos''. In the heat of the studio there were frequent breakdowns of equipment and often of tempers. Jackson had the reputation for dealing with trying situations with humour and good grace.


In July 1948 the then Princess Elizabeth, together with the Duke of Edinburgh, visited Alexandra Palace to watch a production of Hulbert's Follies. Jackson was sent to wardrobe for a more appropriate outfit. He emerged wearing a white jacket and gloves.


Although capable of dealing with any production, his first love was for drama and he often worked as part of a team comprising James Bould as designer, and Eric Fawcett as producer, on pioneer productions of stage classics.


When promoted to producer - the equivalent today is director - his first programme was An Evening At Home With the Bradens (1951). It ran for six episodes.


Television was expanding, and Eamonn Andrews described meeting Jackson at Lime Grove Studios in 1951. Both men shared an interest in boxing and both had boxed at St Andrew's Club in Dublin. They met to discuss a new programme, What's My Line?. The original plan was for Andrews to alternate as chairman with Gilbert Harding. Jackson chose the first team of Gilbert Harding, Marghanita Laski, Jerry Desmonde and, at his wife's suggestion, Elizabeth Allen, an English actress who had acted in Hollywood films in the late Thirties. The show was a huge success with viewers. It went out live on Sunday evenings and Harding's comments together with the fashions worn by the female members of the panel, provided topics of conversation among commuters around London. Many famous people participated as the mystery guest who had to be identified behind a blindfolded panel. Although the panel changed for various reasons, Andrews became the regular chairman, leaving Harding to attract viewers with his unpredictable behaviour. After two highly successful series, What's My Line? was handed over to another producer, Dickie Leeman.


Andrews, like Harding and many of Jackson's colleagues, became a personal friend. In the summer of 1955 Jackson saw a recording of an American programme brought back by Ronnie Waldman (head of Light Entertainment for BBC). It was This Is Your Life.


Leslie JacksonJackson was enthusiastic about the programme in spite of the BBC's official reservations about its suitability for British audiences due to the intrusion into private life. The show was thought to be in bad taste, but in Jackson's hands it ran for nine series with high viewing figures. The subjects (Leslie strongly objected to the term ''victim'') were always treated with tact and dignity.


The show had an enormous range. Unknown war heroes, showbusiness types, people like Sue Ryder, who had devoted their lives to the service of others. The people paying tribute were often unsophisticated and uneasy about appearing in front of the camera, but Jackson always put them at ease and encouraged them to tell their story with confidence and sincerity.


While each programme had a different scriptwriter, Jackson supervised each script and production with infinite care. Obviously there was no proper rehearsal as the subject had to be unaware of the preparations. Great efforts were made to surprise the subject, but an introduction to the television theatre and some simple rehearsal with a ''stand-in'' took place on Sunday before the normal programme on Monday night. For nine years, Jackson was never home for Sunday lunch.


In 1965 Jackson produced for the first time Call My Bluff, another long-running popular success. Robin Ray was its first chairman, followed by Robert Robinson. Jackson continued with the programme until BBC regulations forced him to retire in 1970.


After such a hectic life it was unlikely that Jackson would take a well-deserved rest. He worked voluntarily for an eye charity benefiting Moorfields Hospital, and only a war in Pakistan prevented his going to advise on television under the auspices of the Ministry of Overseas Development. He spent a year in Trinidad for the same organisation, training staff for their television service. For three years he worked at the National Coal Board liaising between them and BBC and ITV on such productions as The Corn Is Green and How Green Was My Valley. A great deal of his time was devoted to the Catholic Stage Guild, and for many years he worked for the Holy Family Church in Acton where he died suddenly after attending mass in 1992.


He had the support of a wife who shared his theatrical background and three children who gave him a great deal of pleasure. He saw his son Paul perform at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter, as a student, and later followed him into the BBC as an Assistant Floor Manager, leaving as a light entertainment producer to further his career in commercial televison. The only daughter Ceri is now a professional actress. Sean, the only musical member of the family, kept his Spanish guitar playing as a hobby and opted for a successful career in catering and hotel management.





Vere LORRIMER


Vere Lorrimer

Vere Lorrimer was born on 8 June 1920 and, after starring in a school play, trained at Fay Compton School of Dramatic Art before entering the theatre, thanks to a friend of his father's, as an assistant stage manager and small part player at the Palace Theatre, Watford. However, his career was soon interrupted by the war. He joined the Royal Signals and had reached the rank of Major by the time he was helping to organise transport for D-Day. During the last year of the war he joined Stars in Battledress, for which he directed and acted in several revues.



After the war, he worked haphazardly as a stage manager, actor and pianist, often returning to Watford. Soon his aspirations turned to directing. He was appointed artistic director of the Royal Artillery Theatre, Woolwich, where he remained for several seasons before going on to present a number of tours as a freelance Producer / Director.


In the late fifties Vere joined BBC Television, where he made his directorial debut with Sooty. He went on to direct the BBC’s first soap opera Compact, as well as innumerable episodes of Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars and Softly Softly. Other drama credits include Doom Watch, A Life of Bliss and The Brothers.


He directed many editions of This Is Your Life between between 1958 and 1963, including those featuring Barbara Cartland, Kenneth More and Hattie Jacques; and when longtime producer T Leslie Jackson was promoted to Executive Producer, Vere took over the producer role for the programme's ninth and final BBC series in 1963-4.


He was responsible for Dark Side of the Sun, filmed in Greece; Maelstrom, filmed in Norway; and the second series of Tenko, filmed in Malaysia.


After he retired from the BBC, Vere embarked on a new career teaching film and television at a number of drama schools. He died in 1998.





Leslie Jackson and Malcolm Morris discuss This Is Your Life in a documentary broadcast in 1986 - The Story of This Is Your Life




Malcolm MORRIS


Malcolm Morris

Malcolm Morris was born in 1932 and grew up in North London. His family owned and ran a hairdressers salon – 'Maison Morris' in the Caledonian Road, which may well have played a part in Malcolm’s showbusiness and creative aspirations. On leaving school at the age of 14, Malcolm trained in hairdressing at Morris International School of Hairdressing. While working at an exclusive salon in Hampstead, his father was taken ill, and he was obliged to return home to help run the family business for a while.


Malcolm enjoyed dabbling in photography and soon made the decision to move away from hairdressing, and try to make a career out of his hobby. He signed up with a Fleet Street agency and his early assignments included covering the regular film premieres which were regularly held in London’s West End. Through these glitzy assignments Malcolm came into contact with many Hollywood movie stars, including Robert Mitchum and Olivia de Havilland.


In the mid 1950s the respected journalist Edward Bishop invited Malcolm to go into partnership with him and together they established a television news press agency, with Malcolm concentrating on the photography side of the business. He spent many hours in the BBC studios at Lime Grove and Alexandra Palace, and it was during this time that he first met Eamonn Andrews, while photographing broadcasts of What’s My Line? and, ironically, This Is Your Life.


However, it would be some sixteen years before Malcolm would be professionally involved with This Is Your Life. In the meantime his career took him in several directions. In 1956 he accepted an offer to move to the newly established commercial television station, ABC TV, as a trainee director, where once trained and based in Manchester, his first directing job was on an entertainment programme entitled Can Do fronted by future Dr Who, Jon Pertwee.


Malcolm would spend five years, from 1959 to 1964, with the newly created Tyne Tees Television as a director - a period he would describe as ‘without doubt the happiest of my life’.


Meanwhile, back at the BBC, This Is Your Life, in a surprising move, was axed in 1964 after nine series, and with What’s My Line also now off-air, Eamonn Andrews left the corporation and took up residency with rival broadcaster ABC Television. Malcolm was invited to produce Eamonn’s new late night series – The Eamonn Andrews Show - for the commercial station, where he met and worked with the writing team of Tom Brennand and Roy Bottomley, who would later form a vital part of the production team on This Is Your Life. Eamonn’s show proved to be a ratings winner and attracted such diverse star guests as Muhammad Ali, Noel Coward and The Beatles.


Malcolm’s next move was a return to Tyne Tees Television – this time as programme controller. Although his time there was productive, the atmosphere was not quite as happy as his previous time in Newcastle.




The Stage article

The Stage 3 June 1971


Tyne Tee’s Controller of Programmes Malcolm Morris has resigned and is to join Thames in August to produce the next series of This Is Your Life. At Thames he will succeed Robert Tyrrell, another former Tyne Tees man.


The departure of Mr Morris comes after criticism of Tyne Tees for a decline in the amount of its locally produced material. Following a report that the ITA would consider taking away the Tyne Tees franchise unless the company returned to its expected amount of local programming, the ITA said that there had been no such threats to Tyne Tees.




This Is Your Life returned to viewer’s screens in 1969 when Eamonn Andrews resurrected his old BBC show with Thames Television. The first two series had been produced by Robert Tyrrell, an old colleague of Malcolm’s at Tyne Tees. When, in 1971, Tyrrell announced he was leaving the show, Brian Tesler, Director of Programmes for Thames, offered Malcolm the vacant position. Malcolm would steer the show for three series, during which time it regularly topped the ratings, and would feature such subjects as footballer George Best and singer Shirley Bassey. He ended his first tenure as producer by surprising, for a second time, the man who had been the programme's very first subject back in 1955 - Eamonn Andrews!


Jack Crawshaw took over the reins as This Is Your Life producer in 1975 to allow Malcolm to take up the rather grand sounding role of Controller of Administration for the Programme Department at Thames, a role with a responsibility of a 30 million pound budget.


Malcolm MorrisMalcolm returned to produce This Is Your Life in 1982 and would stay with the programme until 1996, overseeing the show through some challenging times – notably the death of presenter Eamonn Andrews in 1987, and the move back to BBC Television in 1994.


The programme itself continued to capture the imagination of the viewing public as the television institution it had become, and Malcolm played his part in that success with the introduction of a new presentation style in the shape of new host Michael Aspel, and a broader choice of subjects, with shows recorded in Hollywood and Australia, with names ranging from Alice Faye, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Omar Sharif and Barbara Cartland.


Malcolm retired to Los Angeles, California. He died in February 2016.






Jack CRAWSHAW


Jack Crawshaw

Series Producer Jack Crawshaw was a stalwart of This Is Your Life, working with both Eamonn Andrews and Michael Aspel in two spells totalling 20 years. A former Fleet Street journalist, he was a researcher and writer for Eamonn when the programme was first aired by Thames Television on ITV in 1969.


After four series, interspersed by summer breaks as a founder writer working with Judith Chalmers on the holiday series Wish You Were Here..?, he was appointed Editor of the 'Life' and in 1974 promoted to Producer, leading the team as the programme consistently topped the ratings with audiences of up to, and sometimes more than, 20 million viewers, paying tributes to the likes of Lord Mountbatten, Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Douglas Bader, Sir Garfield Sobers, Eric Sykes and Muhammad Ali.


After a series combining his role as Producer of the Life with that of Editor working with Eamonn on Top of the World, a satellite quiz programme linking London, Miami and Sydney, he moved on to Sport and Outside Broadcasts in a new role as a Producer / Director, where his credits included ITV Sport’s Midweek Sport Special, with Steve Rider, Fatima an Olympic Story with Brian Moore and International Gymnastics, including the World Championships from Montreal and the World Cup from Beijing, with Dickie Davies, John Taylor and Monica Phelps.


In 1989, he left Thames to set up home in Spain as a new base to pursue a freelance career. His first commission brought him back to London to produce LWT’s Arts Festival 1990 with Melvyn Bragg, followed by Live from Telecom Tower with Michael Aspel. Next stop was Stockholm, when he was invited by Lars Noren to produce Aldrig i Livet, a studio debate on the future of Swedish health care for Nordic Channel 5, fronted by John Chrispinsson.


Back in Britain he was invited by ITV’s new franchise holder in the south to produce Meridian The First Year, with Fred Dinenage, followed by a one hour commemorative special for the ITV network, as Writer and Producer of D-Day Remembered, which won an award at the New York TV Festival in the Best International News / Documentary category. Another New York award winner, he produced for Meridian, was Doing It Up, a DIY series, with Pattie Coldwell and Tony Kerner.


Jack Crawshaw with Michael AspelIn August 1996, with Thames now an independent company, part of the Pearson group, and about to enter the final year of a three year contract to produce This Is Your Life for the BBC, he was asked to return to the programme to work with Michael Aspel, first as Editorial Consultant and then, for a further six years up to its final run, as Series Producer. In his two spells on This Is Your Life, spanning 34 years, he was involved in more than 500 editions and co-wrote, with Eamonn Andrews, the book ‘Surprise of Your Life’.


Between television assignments Jack, who began his working life as a teenage sports reporter on his hometown newspaper the Oldham Evening Chronicle, covering Manchester’s famous football clubs, United and City, in the days of Busby, Charlton, Law and Best, wrote personality features for the PFA magazine Footballer’s World and scripts for the opening ceremonies of the 1991 Rugby World Cup at Twickenham, presented by Cliff Morgan, and UEFA’s Euro ’96 at Wembley, with John Inverdale.


He has also worked as a Radio Interviewer, contributing feature interviews for the UK independent network with Bobby Charlton on World Cup Soccer, Jim Meadowcroft, World Championship Snooker, Nicky Horne, US Superbowl, Jimmy Greaves, on his book “It’s a Funny Old Life” and Gordon Taylor, Chairman of the PFA, on Football in the Community.


Jack Crawshaw

Jack has recently made regular appearances as a Guest Speaker on cruise ships, informing and entertaining his audiences with stories and anecdotes from his days as Producer of This Is Your Life.


Jack is married and lives with his wife Lynne and children, Ellie and Charlie, in Hampton Wick, Surrey.