John Logie BAIRD
28 October 1957
Inventor of television - This Is Your Life's only deceased subject
17 February 1971
1 December 1971
14 February 1973
Founded Batley Variety Club
4 April 1973
6 September 1995
There's no business like show business when the This Is Your Life team shine the spotlight on those talented individuals who found fame entertaining the nation.
So, from music hall to television, via variety, radio, pantomime, cabaret or revue, we take a look at those all round entertainers - plus a producer, an agent and a couple of executives - who kept us all entertained, and were richly rewarded with the Big Red Book* treatment....
| G H ELLIOTT
13 May 1957
George Henry Elliott, popular star of the music hall, was surprised by Eamonn at the King’s Theatre, Hammersmith while he was watching a 14 year old Richard O'Sullivan imitate his act on stage.
Among those paying tribute are actor Finlay Currie and actress and singer Pat Kirkwood.
| Albert WHELAN
30 September 1957
Eamonn surprised the Australian singer and entertainer in the audience of the BBC Television Theatre, having been brought along there by Billy Butlin.
Albert originally found fame in his native Australia as a singer and dancer before emigrating to Britain, where he developed his act in the music halls.
| Harry SECOMBE
31 March 1958
The Welsh entertainer was surprised by Eamonn as he entered the BBC Television Theatre.
With a talent for comedy and a noted fine tenor singing voice, Harry was one of Britain’s most loved entertainers. He is best known as a member of BBC radio’s The Goon Show, along with Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers, who both guest on the show.
2 October 1961
For the first edition of the eighth series, Eamonn surprised the entertainer while rehearsing his new show, Do Re Mi, at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre.
Comedians Max Miller and Eric Sykes send recorded messages, while at the BBC Television Theatre, Max is greeted by bandleader Joe Loss and Pricella the pantomime duck!
19 November 1969
After five years off screen, This Is Your Life returns, and for the very first edition produced by Thames Television, and in colour, Eamonn surprised the entertainer live on air, on the stage of the London Palladium, from where the show is broadcast. A visibly shocked Des was greeted by fellow entertainer Max Bygraves and musician Lonnie Donegan.
26 December 1973
Eamonn almost suffocated while tied inside a sack waiting to jump out and surprise the magician and broadcaster at The Magic Circle Headquarters in London.
All is well in the end, and David is greeted by a host of show business names including entertainer Anita Harris and comedian Arthur Askey.
12 November 1975
Ronnie was surprised by Eamonn at Thames Television's Euston Road Studios, in the very same week he had achieved national fame at the Royal Variety Show. His cabaret act, which features members of his family, was honed through a long and successful career working in clubs. His guests include Larry Grayson and Mike Yarwood.
9 March 1977
The actor, known to television viewers for his elaborate introductions on the BBC variety show, The Good Old Days, was surprised by Eamonn and a bus full of folk - suitably dressed in Edwardian costume - outside London's Horse and Groom pub. The studio audience - also dressed for the occasion - saw Leonard greet actresses Jean Anderson and Patricia Hayes.
22 March 1978
For her first encounter with the Big Red Book Eamonn surprised the well loved comedienne while filming in her home town of Sheffield. Marti began her career as a stand-up comedienne and cabaret singer in working men’s clubs before gaining fame after appearing on the television talent show New Faces. Fellow comedians Bobby Knutt and Little & Large are guests on the show.
|Mike YARWOOD OBE
31 May 1978
To help surprise the impressionist outside London's Hilton Hotel, Eamonn enlists the help of various television personalities - all victims of his mimicry skills. Regular This Is Your Life director Royston Mayoh makes rare appearance in front of the camera as a guest, while former Prime Minister Harold Wilson joins the tribute.
6 January 1982
The actress, singer and entertainer, was surprised by Eamonn at London’s Talk of the Town venue, where she was currently playing to sell out audiences.
Among the guests paying tribute are comedians Jimmy Jewell and Jimmy Tarbuck in the studio, while entertainers Danny La Rue and Leslie Crowther send recorded messages.
3 February 1982
Eamonn disguised himself as a giant emu in order to surprise the entertainer - famous for his aggresive arm-length puppet of the flightless emu bird - at Thames Television's Euston Road Studios.
One of emu's best known 'victims', chat show host Michael Parkinson, is on the guest list, albeit at a safe distance via a recorded message!
14 March 1984
The popular comedian, impressionist and singer - known for his offbeat and unpredictable humour - was surprised by Eamonn at the London Hippodrome.
Joining the tribute at the Royalty Theatre is comedian Billy Connolly and singer Englebert Humperdinck, while one half of the comedy duo, Bobby Ball sends a recorded message.
|Danny LA RUE
18 April 1984
Eamonn surprised the popular entertainer and female impersonator on stage at London’s Prince of Wales Theatre during a curtain call of Hello Dolly!
A host of top names from show business pay tribute to Danny, including Barbara Windsor, Donald Sinden, Frankie Vaughan and Anna Neagle.
5 December 1984
The Welsh entertainer and actress, who began her career in music hall, and was known for her signature tune Two Ton Tessie from Tennessee, was surprised by Eamonn at Teddington Studios.
Among the guests paying tribute are comedians Jimmy Edwards, Nat Jackley and Charlie Drake.
|Bill WARD OBE
10 December 1986
The television executive and former producer was celebrating 50 years in the business with a dinner at London's Hyde Park Hotel when Eamonn surprised him.
Bill was involved with the early days of ITV and his guests include fellow television executives including Bill Cotton in the studio and Lord Grade via recorded message.
2 November 1988
In a rare use of disguise, Michael dressed as a chinaman to surprise the profilic magician at Davenport's Magic Shop in London's Covent Garden.
Among the guests paying tribute to Paul are fellow magicians David Berglas and David Copperfield and entertainer Max Bygraves.
|Harry CORBETT OBE
21 December 1988
Another rare disguise sees Michael dressed in a Sooty outfit to suprise the man behind the popular children's puppet, at London's Mayfair Theatre.
Impressionist Janet Brown is on the guest list, along with comedian Charlie Drake and musician Gerry Marsden.
Roy's tribute includes contributions from comedian Michael Bentine and comedy actress June Whitfield, while impresario Lord Delfont sends a recorded message.
|Sir Harry SECOMBE CBE
7 March 1990
For Harry's second This Is Your Life tribute, Michael suprised him during a book signing session in a London branch of W H Smith.
Fellow Goon Spike Milligan is on the guest list, along with comedy actor Alfred Marks and his wife Paddie O'Neil, Welsh baritone Sir Geraint Evans and singer Dame Vera Lynn.
28 March 1990
Billy - the only theatrical agent ever to be a subject of This Is Your Life - was surprised by Michael at Thames Television's Teddington Studios. He had worked for theatre impresario Bernard Delfont before establishing his own company. Among the galaxy of show business names paying tribute are Bruce Forsyth, Ernie Wise and Norman Wisdom.
11 April 1990
Michael surprised the comedian and impressionist at London's Adelphi Theatre, with the help of Gary Wilmot, following a matinee performance of the musical Me and My Girl.
Bobby was greeted by, among others, singer Elton John via a live link, and entertainers Brian Conley and Bernie Winters in the studio.
25 December 1991
For a Christmas Day broadcast, the magician - one of the first to appear on British television with his own show, first broadcast in 1954 - was surprised by Michael at the Forte Crest Hotel in London's Bloomsbury. Among those paying tribute to David are actor Bill Maynard, magician Paul Daniels and illusionist Uri Gellar.
15 January 1992
Mo is best known to television viewers as The Mighty Atom, the leader of the comedy dance troupe The Roly Polys, who often appeared with comedian Les Dawson. Michael surprised her at the curtain call of the pantomime, Dick Whittington, at the Wimbledon Theatre. Paying tribute via a recorded message is Miss Bluebell, Margaret Kelly.
10 February 1993
The television producer - known as Manchester’s Mr Showbusiness through his work at Granada Television - was surprised by Michael at the city's Victoria & Albert Hotel.
On the guest list is Coronation Street's Elizabeth Dawn, while Barbara Kelly and Bob Holness send recorded messages.
1 June 1994
Michael gate crashed the curtain call of the pantomime at Crewe's Lyceum theatre, in order to surprise the entertainer best known for appearing with his puppet Spit the Dog. Bob, who was part of the Saturday morning television series Tiswas, is greeted by his former colleagues from that show, Chris Tarrant, Sally James and Lenny Henry.
30 November 1994
For the comedienne’s second tribute, Michael enlisted the help of Blue Peter presenters John Noakes and Valerie Singleton and comedian Tom O’Connor, to surprise Marti at Woburn Golf Club.
Helping to pay tribute on Marti’s updated life story are Victoria Wood and Brian Conley.
|Bill COTTON CBE
22 March 1995
The son of the band leader Billy, who as a television excutive, became responsible for some of the BBC’s biggest shows from the golden era of television entertainment, was surprised by Michael at Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire.
Joining the tribute are show business royalty Bruce Forsyth, Ernie Wise and Cilla Black.
29 November 1995
Michael surprised the comedian and actor at the curtain call of the West End musical, Jolson, at London's Victoria Palace Theatre, where the show was then recorded.
Brian is greeted by comedian Bob Hope via a recorded message, while entertainer Max Bygraves pays tribute in person.
21 December 2000
Michael surprised the actress, presenter and former model, during the curtain call of the pantomime, Snow White, at Wimbledon Theatre, where the show was then recorded.
28 December 2001
Michael interrupted another curtain call, this time for the pantomime at the Richmond Theatre, in order to surprise the popular comedian and entertainer.
Joining Julian on stage to pay their tribute are, among others, actor Frank Thornton and actress June Whitfield, while broadcaster Jonathan Ross sends a recorded message.
*obviously the pre-1970 subjects were surprised by a different coloured book - see the Big Red Book feature for full details