American Feature Arrives
The Manchester Guardian
30 July 1955
The Manchester Guardian This Is Your Life article
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a review of the first series

Eamonn Andrews

Television Notes

This Is Your Life

by our Radio Critic

Ralph Edwards brought his famous American television feature This Is Your Life for the first time into British television last night.

The style so far infected the usually sedate British announcer that he declaimed the introduction with a rather uneasily glaring look; the whole thing, one felt, was going to be stupendous and smart – even though it was to be "our own version of the most-talked-about" programme in America.

But a fair guess would be that, if the show is adapted any further to British tastes, it will settle down more happily in the untidy, chummy, Ask Pickles way than in its present form.

The person chosen from an invited audience for the "chair of honour" and the unfolding of events in his past life was Eamonn Andrews, who bore the ordeal bravely and with a lot of goodwill, sincerity, and very little aplomb. One has never liked Mr Andrews so well.

For the embarrassing thing about the programme was not the unexpected entry of his mother, sisters, brother and various friends and acquaintances but the very glib and mechanical manner of Ralph Edwards, who seemed to be reeling off words with one bit of his mind but without any real personal feeling, almost in an absent-minded way.

Also the continual stream of fulsome compliments could hardly be congenial to their object, even though Mr Andrews is an excellent radio and television performer and an agreeable personality. So if Mr Edwards is to become popular here he will probably have to learn the art of British under-statement and realise that "good show" means more than half a dozen superlatives.

Last night's programme was without any exceptionally embarrassing or sentimental moments: but if This Is Your Life should go in for that kind of thing in a big way it will be one more sign that now battle is joined with the commercials the public will be shot at from both sides with the lowest common denominator of ammunition.