This Is Your Life: Timeline
29 July 1955

In the very first edition of This Is Your Life on British television, future host Eamonn Andrews becomes the first subject, when he's surprised by Ralph Edwards, who devised and hosted the original American version

Eamonn Andrews feature        
          Sir John Barbirolli 21 January 1957

Conductor of the Manchester based Halle Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli is the subject of the first edition to be broadcast outside of London - televised from BBC Manchester's Dickenson Road Studios

28 October 1957

The programme’s one and only deceased subject is featured - Scottish engineer, innovator and inventor of the world’s first mechanical television, John Logie Baird - a television set was placed in the chair of honour

Big Red Book      
          John Lord 30 November 1959

The edition featuring Regimental Sergeant Major John Lord, broadcast from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, includes the first reigning monarch ever to appear on live television - His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan

6 February 1961

This edition featuring Somerset GP Dr Robert Fawcus - recorded several weeks earlier - replaced the planned tribute to Danny Blanchflower, which was cancelled after the the Irish and Tottenham Hotspur footballer refused to take part

Robert Fawcus          
          Big Red Book 6 March 1961

Popular concert pianists Maryan Rawicz and Walter Landauer become the programme's first 'double subjects' when Eamonn announces: 'making ready for this moment has been... well, twice as difficult as usual'

9 October 1961

In the first ‘pick-up’ of its kind, the production team travel outside of the UK - to the Italian city of Naples - to surprise the Roman Catholic priest Mario Borrelli before returning to London’s BBC Television Theatre for the live broadcast

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature 23 October 1961

In the first 'sleepover' in the programme's history, the actor Brian Rix is surprised at a friend’s Surrey house party one evening - while the actual show was recorded the following evening

25 December 1961

For the programme's first ever Christmas Day broadcast - which honours the former nurse Isabella Woodford - each guest brings a present, and the tribute ends with all the guests sitting down to a Christmas dinner.

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature 5 March 1962

David Butler - who lost his legs in a mortar bomb explosion - becomes the programme’s youngest subject at the age of 17 when he's surprised in his headmaster’s study at Hemel Hempstead Grammar School

30 April 1962

Former cricketer Joe Filliston becomes the programme's oldest subject - at the age of 100 - when Eamonn surprises him at a cricket club dinner and dance at Motspur Park, in South West London

Joe Filliston          
          Big Red Book 28 November & 5 December 1963

Albert Guerisse - a member of the Belgian resistance who organised escape routes for allied pilots during the Second World War - is the first subject whose story is told over two editions, broadcast on consecutive weeks

30 April 1964

After nine years and 256 editions, the BBC broadcasts its final edition of This Is Your Life - which honours Sister Mary Hawkins, a former nurse who worked in various international war zones

Big Red Book          
          Des O'Connor 19 November 1969

ITV's Thames Television revives the show after a five year break with the first ever colour edition - original host Eamonn Andrews presents a live edition when he surprises entertainer Des O'Connor at the London Palladium

31 December 1969

The popular female vocal trio The Beverley Sisters become the programme's first ‘trio’ to be honoured in a New Year's Eve broadcast

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          Big Red Book 18 November 1970

The Big Red Book with its gold embossed lettering was first seen at the start of the eleventh series – in a two-part tribute for entertainer Bob Hope - ironically though, this edition was transmitted in black and white due to a technicians’ strike!

12 May 1971

Eamonn declares: 'For the first time ever, I'm saying for the second time, This Is Your Life' as Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby becomes the show’s first 'second timer' surprised at Manchester City's Maine Road ground

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature 22 March 1972

The production team travel beyond Europe for the first time ever - 4000 miles to the Bush country of Southern Kenya - to surprise the co-founder of the Flying Doctors Service – Dr Michael Wood

15 November 1972

Pat Phoenix - known to millions of television viewers as Elsie Tanner - becomes the first Coronation Street subject when Eamonn Andrews surprises the actress on the set of the Manchester based soap opera

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature February 1974

In a heart-stopping moment which has become infamous in the show's history, author Richard Gordon refuses Eamonn's invitation to appear - and walks off the set live on air! He changed his mind later and the show was recorded and then broadcast the following week

15 May 1974

It’s a magical moment when guest host David Nixon turns the tables on regular host Eamonn Andrews for his second dose of This Is Your Life!

ITV Eamonn Andrews and David Nixon          
          Series 15 titles October 1974

The production team introduce code names in an attempt to keep the planning of shows as secret as possible - one of the first was 'House' for actor Richard O'Sullivan

October 1974

In an Election night special the subject - politician Jack Ashley - sits unusually, but due to his deafness, on the right hand side of stage

ITV This Is Your Life feature          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature 22 September 1976

A special live two hour edition of This Is Your Life dedicated to ITV itself - celebrating 21 years of independent television

27 April 1977

The only member of the Royal family ever to be featured as a subject had his life story recalled in the programme’s first hour long edition, which included a commercial break – something never before seen during This Is Your Life!

Lord Mountbatten          
          Robert Arnott 14 December 1977

Not the first edition from on board a ship - that was back in 1959 - but this edition honouring Robert Arnott is broadcast from a moving ocean liner - the Queen Elizabeth 2   

19 April 1978

In the first ‘pick-up’ of its kind, Eamonn Andrews interrupts DJ Terry Wogan during his BBC Radio 2 morning show to surprise him live on air

Tery Wogan          
          Jule Styne 24 May 1978

In the first transatlantic edition the production team travel to New York to surprise the British born American songwriter Jule Styne   

25 October 1978

After nine years broadcasting from Thames Television’s Euston Road Studios the show moves to the more spacious New London Theatre

New London Theatre set          
          Michael Aspel 14 May 1980

Future host Michael Aspel is surprised by Eamonn Andrews on the set of the ITV game show Give us a Clue  

15 October 1980

Another change of venue for the new series – this time to London’s Royalty Theatre off the Kingsway in Holborn

Royalty Theatre set          
          Alice Faye 19 December 1984

In the team’s first visit to Hollywood, the subject was the popular star of numerous 20th Century Fox musicals, Alice Faye   

May 1985

Two special one hour-long editions are broadcast on consecutive weeks - featuring the actor Donald Sinden and the Second World War RAF pilot and flying ace Johnnie Johnson

Donald Sinden          
          Series 27 set October 1986

The majority of programmes are now recorded at Thames Television’s Teddington Studios  

March 1987

A rare two-part tribute for a second timer - actor, musician and comedian Dudley Moore - is broadcast over two consecutive weeks

Dudley Moore          
          ITV This Is Your Life feature 5 November 1987

News of the untimely death of Eamonn Andrews leaves the future of the programme uncertain  

January 1988

ITV broadcast three editions of This Is Your Life recorded before the death Eamonn Andrews, including the final one he ever recorded - featuring Crossroads actress Jane Rossington

Jane Rossington          
          TVTimes October 1988

This Is Your Life returns for its 29th series with a new look and a new presenterMichael Aspel

6 December 1989

The actor Alec McCowen would only agree to the broadcast of his tribute on the proviso that a post-credit apology be added for not including mention of his late partner, Geoffrey Burridge, in the programme

Alec McCowen          
          Ken Dodd 7 May 1990

Comedian Ken Dodd is honoured in what is billed as the ‘500th life’ produced by Thames Television, and broadcast as an hour-long bank holiday special   

June 1994

ITV broadcast two editions - recorded in Australia in October 1993 - featuring Australian cricketer captain Allan Border and British born actor - now working in Australian television - Michael Craig

Michael Craig          
          Pat Kirkwood 20 July 1994

The curtain comes down on the ITV years with an edition dedicated to a great British star - Pat Kirkwood

2 November 1994

The programme returns to its former home - the BBC - after an absence of three decades

This Is Your Life titles          
          Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray 19 April 1995

This Is Your Life history is made when Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray, who had each previously received an individual tribute, are honoured with a joint tribute

6 March 1996

Singer Petula Clark becomes the first and only subject to be honoured three times

Petula Clark          
          The Night of 1000 Lives 15 January 2000

Michael Aspel hosts a star-studded celebration of a thousand editions - The Night of 1000 Lives - which includes an audience packed with former subjects, some classic clips and a few very special guests...

3 July 2003

In the final outside broadcast, the edition honouring mountaineer Chris Bonington, is recorded at The Rheged Centre in Penrith, Cumbria

Chris Bonington          
          Aled Jones 8 August 2003

The BBC broadcasts edition number 1130 – the final show in its present form - which pays tribute to former choirboy, now television and radio presenter, Aled Jones

2 June 2007

For one night only This Is Your Life returns to ITV to surprise music executive Simon Cowell - ironically the subject previously surprised by Michael Aspel on his last recorded show.
This one-off edition is co-produced by ITV Productions, STV Productions, TIYL Productions, Click TV and Ralph Edwards Productions.

Simon Cowell Big Red Book