Mr Eamonn Andrews
TV Mirror
20 October 1956
TV Mirror article: Eamonn Andrews
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Eamonn Andrews

a brief biography

The Legend That Was Eamonn Andrews

a celebration to mark the presenter's centenary year

Eamonn Andrews

Barbara Kelly

Sammy McCarthy

Bob Monkhouse

Six people try to explain what makes him Television's most popular personality

The personality of Eamonn Andrews is probably one of the best-known in the world of Show Business, but do viewers really get to know Eamonn – Eamonn the man, not Eamonn the celebrity? Perhaps you will forgive us, Eamonn if we pry a bit and find out what you are really like – from your wife, from those who work with you, and those who work for you. So here goes – by your friends and acquaintances you shall be known.

GRAINNE ANDREWS (Eamonn's wife) Home is where he is happiest

You're a nice sort of person to live with – we know, your charming wife Grainne told us. You never forget birthdays and anniversaries, you're kind and considerate, you're always punctual, and you shave as soon as you get up every morning.

Perhaps Grainne (pronounced Groin-ya, by the way) is biased, so we pressed her to give us your vices rather than your virtues. It appears that you rise every morning at seven, and though Grainne pretends not to hear you, you make so much noise she has to wake up. Tut-tut, Eamonn.

The skill in your hands is limited to washing, shaving and writing, and if a picture needs hanging you have to get a man in to do it. But you're a home-loving man, so much so that it doesn't often occur to you, to have an evening out.

When Grainne met you, you gave the impression of being a bit of a rake, debonair and gay. Now you're so practical that you think things out much too precisely and logically.

You're doing a lot of work now, Eamonn – Crackerjack and Playbox on children's TV, What's My Line? This Is Your Life, The Eamonn Andrews Show coming up in December, three sports programmes every Saturday, and two weekly newspaper columns. You always get your wife to give you her approval of what you're doing – but be warned. Your remote ambition to play a gangster in a film is not to her liking.

When do you really annoy your wife? That question nearly stumped Grainne, but she recalled one occasion that she hasn't quite forgiven you for yet. On the panel game Know Your Partner you told millions of people that the thing which worried your wife most was her hip measurement. Really, Eamonn, bringing everyone's notice to those few inches. Shame on you.

(Incidentally, Grainne doesn't mind TV MIRROR readers being reminded now – those inches have disappeared.)

TV Mirror article: Eamonn Andrews
DRESSED TO KILL: Though noted more for casual comfort than sartorial elegance in dress, Eamonn looked good in topper headed – not for Ascot – but for a wedding in Ireland
STRIPPED FOR ACTION: No mere spectator, Eamonn was once called upon to fight, AND provide a round-by-round commentary on a further match, in the course of one evening!

BOB MONKHOUSE: It took one year for Eamonn to tell his funny story!

From Bob Monkhouse we learned that there was an unexpected side to you, Eamonn. You're a frustrated comic, and delight in button–holing comedians to tell them funny stories. This is an account that Mr Monkhouse gave us:

You and Bob were doing a charity show together in Ireland, and you were telling one of your stories in the wings. "A ship was in mid-Atlantic when the captain came on the bridge shouting, 'The ship's sinking! Abandon ship!' Everyone started jumping over the sides, life-boats were launched, and then a sailor came up to the captain and said, 'Excuse me, sir, but the ship isn't sinking,'"

At that point in your story a minor fire started at the theatre. It was soon put out, but you didn't get the chance to finish, and a year passed before you and Bob met up again. It was Bob's first time on the What's My Line? panel and he was in the wings watching the warming-up of the audience before transmission started. You tapped him on the shoulder and said, "So the captain replied, 'I know. I just wanted them to see who was boss.'"

Now anyone who had that joke on his mind for a whole year must be a frustrated comic. At least, that's Bob Monkhouse's theory.

TV Mirror article: Eamonn Andrews
Eamonn has a fellow-feeling with This Is Your Life victims, for his life was featured in the very first of the series. This happy reunion with his mother came during the show

MRS SYLVIA BRITTENDEN (secretary) What happens to business letters

Eamonn is a very busy man and he employs a secretary, Mrs Sylvia Brittenden. She just can't speak well enough of you, Eamonn. You're so kind and understanding, as shown in little ways every day. Such as when you accidentally found out it was her birthday and immediately sent a long greeting telegram to her home address.

Again, do you remember the time when you were late leaving the Crackerjack show and had to rush to the airport for a plane to Dublin? You took time off to sign some children's autographs and then to explain to the others why you had to rush away. You nearly sent your secretary grey, but it was nice of you, all the same...

You always ask advice, and never make those who work for you feel like outsiders. You have the happy knack of cheering up your employees if they're feeling depressed.

"I even sound enthusiastic about him to my husband," said Mrs Brittenden apologetically. "He's that sort of person."

Could she then give you a perfect reference, Eamonn? Yes, but for one thing. Mrs Brittenden brings you important letters from the office where she works to your home, and you have an alarming tendency to lose them. "I gave them back to you," you tell her, but all the same she knows she'll find them if she has a surreptitious search through your desk.

W BARRINGTON DALBY: Eamonn, like the Greeks, always has a word for it

From W Barrington Dalby, your ringside companion over many years, came glowing tributes to your professional skill as a communicator – your alert mind, your wide vocabulary, your good working knowledge of the boxing game and your personal charm.

It's not an easy job, it appears. Barrington Dalby told us of the time you said a casual "Cheerio, and good luck" to Sammy McCarthy before his fight against your compatriot Billy Kelly.

As a result of that remark you had to face insults from nationalist boxing fans when you covered the fight in Belfast.

ANGUS MacKAY: You can't fool him. He's almost telepathic...

Perhaps your greatest professional triumph has been in running the Sound programme Sports Report, claimed to be the fastest-moving show ever. Minutes after events have finished you are on the air. You are in one building and producer Angus MacKay is in another, which doesn't make things easy, but Angus gives you credit for seeing the show through. Listen to what he says:

"Six years ago I gave Eamonn a trial broadcast. As soon as it was over I told him he was with me as long as he liked. He is genuinely interested in the people he interviews, and isn't just trying to do a job well, but above all he has the quickest mind of anyone I know."

"We communicate by headphones. He can be in the middle of a cue to bring someone from, say Blackpool, and I just have to say one word into the inter-com. He can immediately switch to bring in someone from Arsenal instead, without even a pause or a change in his voice. It seems as though he's almost telepathic."

Another point Angus made was that you are today exactly the same person he met when you were out looking for work six years ago – it's true to say you are completely unspoiled by success.

(We hope we're not making you blush, Eamonn, but with your experiences on This Is Your Life you know what to expect from this sort of thing.)

TV Mirror article: Eamonn Andrews
Two programmes set Eamonn off along the golden trail toward "Personality" status. Not then familiar to television viewers, his voice was known to millions through "Sports Report" (above, he poses with some of his quick-talking team) and "Ignorance is Bliss"

BARBARA KELLY: He's just the nicest kind of ordinary guy

Barbara Kelly is just as enthusiastic about you:

"He has no eccentricities, he never has an axe to grind, and he never uses his own personality to overshadow anyone else," she said. "He's an ordinary guy and because of that he'll keep going long after the 'fad' personalities have faded away."

"You get the feeling that he's always doing people kindnesses – but you don't hear about it."

In the sometimes back-biting world of Show Business we found no one to make any serious criticisms of you, Eamonn. We get the feeling that even your unwarranted and unsought opponents of the Irish boxing world would say, "Begorrah, but he's a nice enough fellar, really."