What goes on behind that Green Door
Acton Gazette
26 April 1957
Acton Gazette article: This Is Your Life
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Producing Life

the producers who steered the programme's success

Venues and Sets

the studio look and locations

Eamonn Andrews

a brief biography

Edwin Madron


Acton Gazette article: This Is Your Life

No, the three mystery characters in this picture are not camera-shy! They are the This Is Your Life investigators, so they must not be recognised by the subjects. Also in the picture are, left to right, assistant production secretary, 30-year-old Miss Audrey Mayers, producer Leslie Jackson, and production secretary Miss Eileen Cornwell. The team is going over details of their next subject

One of a long line of three-storey buildings in Hammersmith Grove, Hammersmith, might be called "The House of Mystery." For behind the faded green-painted door of No. 214 lie the answers to all the Who? How? and Why's? of the BBC Television programme This Is Your Life.

In this programme a celebrity or person famous for public service is tricked into becoming a member of the audience at the King's Theatre, Hammersmith, and then suddenly finds himself led up to the stage in front of television cameras. And there Eamonn Andrews unfolds the story of his or her life.

Now it can be revealed exactly what goes on behind that green door.

Up four flights of stairs and we arrive at the door of the This Is Your Life office, with its producer Mr T Leslie Jackson, of Princes Gardens, West Acton.

Nobody calls him Mr Jackson – simply "Jacko." He sits at his desk in blue sweater and choker neck-scarf. And in between dictating snatches of complicated script instructions to his secretary, he starts right from the beginning...

How they start

How do you become a This Is Your Life subject?

"We wade through a lot of biographies, autobiographies, newspapers – especially the Sundays – and magazines for subjects," says Jacko.

"Contrary to what you might think, most of the people who write in to us recommending that we do a programme on a certain person are of little use. Usually the people concerned are those who happened to have done the writer a good turn."

This does not mean that all the letters are ignored. They are carefully sifted by a member of the team, Miss Nickola Sterne, ex-actress and dancer of Gorton Road, Ealing, who also prepares condensed biographies of potential subjects. ("We never call them victims," Jacko emphasised.)

Miss Sterne often interviews people on the pretext of writing an article on them. But her reports are sent to a fortnightly meeting of the five strong This Is Your Life committee: Jacko, Eamonn Andrews, scriptwriter Gale Pedrick, and the programme's investigators Peter Moore (38) and Nigel Ward (40).


Now we have the subject. Investigators Moore and Ward get down to work. By a lot of hard work and a lot of "sleuthing" they turn in a dossier as comprehensive as any in Scotland Yard. Mainly their information comes from relatives and close friends of the subject.

They have their subject. They know his past. Now, how do they get him to the King's Theatre, Hammersmith, without his "smelling a rat?"

"That is our biggest headache," admits Jacko, "because not only have we to get him to the theatre without arousing his suspicion, but we have to work to a time schedule, we nearly always do a "live" broadcast."

Once they asked a celebrity to go to the theatre for some publicity photographs, another time they invited a lifeboat cox to a lifeboat organisation's "exhibition" and decorated the foyer of the theatre with lifeboat posters to make it look like the real thing.

Jacko's right-hand girl is 26-year-old Miss Eileen Cornwell, of Holland Road, Kensington, his production secretary. She does all the office routine work, fixing hotel accommodation and transport, and a hundred-and-one-other jobs...

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