Life's awkward moments
TV Times
23 October 1982
TV Times: This Is Your Life article TV Times: This Is Your Life article
Getting comedy actor Paul Shane on to the programme involved some blushing miners in the showers
TV Times: This Is Your Life article
Andrew Lloyd Webber's brother Julian came close to having his valuable cello smashed to smithereens
TV Times: This Is Your Life article
The researcher on the trail of Russell Harty's story ran up against some very suspicious stallholders in Blackburn
TV Times: This Is Your Life article
Alan Whicker was denied his usual view-of-the-street hotel room in case he spotted the TV vans in the street below
TV Times: This Is Your Life article
Angela Rippon. Her favourite horse gave a very friendly greeting to the researcher's brand new trench coat – it bit it
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Life's awkward moments

Eamonn Andrews is back springing surprises with his Big Red Book, but sometimes things can nearly go wrong as the programme's producers strive for the total secrecy so necessary for the programme to reach the screen at all...

Paul Shane

Comedy actor Shane, (code name Extra) got into showbusiness when he had to give up being a miner. His story goes that he slipped on a bar of soap in the pithead showers and permanently injured his back. The This is Your Life team wanted to film a reconstruction of this scene at a Yorkshire pit, but the film crew included two girls – a camera assistant and a producer's assistant. When the miners came in for their showers, they blushed with embarrassment as they saw they were being watched by two young ladies. But after a few uneasy moments, they took it all in good humour and the crew got their film.

Andrew Lloyd Webber

It was decided to film Julian Lloyd Webber, Andrew's brother (code name Joseph), playing the cello at the Orient football ground in east London (both are great Orient fans). To round off the film, Orient players would jokingly blast footballs at Julian. The idea ran into difficulty when it was discovered that his cello was worth tens of thousands of pounds, so a dummy instrument was ordered to take its place. On the way to the ground, the lorry carrying the spare cello broke down, so the film proceeded with Julian Lloyd Webber praying gently that none of the balls would damage his cello. Luckily, he got away with it.

Russell Harty

A programme researcher was dispatched to Blackburn in Lancashire, to find some of Russell Harty's (code name Hale) old friends in the market where his father had run a greengrocer's stall. The researcher didn't want to reveal that Harty was to be the subject of This Is Your Life, but he hadn't counted on the market 'grapevine', which started to get suspicious when he asked too many questions. He said he was a weights and measures inspector – and retreated.

Alan Whicker

Alan Whicker (code name Bamboo), was to have a big surprise sprung on him in a London hotel, where a reception was being held to launch his latest book. But it was known that Whicker, who was staying at the hotel, always took his favourite room looking out over the street. If he stayed there this time, he may have become suspicious on seeing the Thames Television vans outside, so a plan was hatched. The manager told Whicker that his room was being decorated, and asked him if he'd mind taking a room at the back of the hotel. Whicker agreed, and the big secret was safe.

Angela Rippon

A This Is Your Life researcher bought a brand new trench coat before heading for the West Country to introduce Angela Rippon's (code name Reader) favourite horse on the programme. Cameras rolled for a quick rehearsal and, as the reporter leaned inside the horse's stable to give his head a friendly pat, the animal said hello by biting a large piece out of the arm of his spanking new coat. When the programme was screened, the reporter hid his tattered arm behind his back.

Secret Identity

Each This Is Your Life subject is given a code name by researchers, while investigations are going on to piece together the programme. The subject is never referred to by name, just in case eavesdroppers or a crossed line could lead to the secret being let out of the bag. Here are some of the ingenious code names given to past subjects of the programme.

Code name:- Subject

Wonder:- Bob Champion (He's known as 'Champion the Wonder Horse')

Bamboo:- Alan Whicker

Reader:- Angela Rippon

Extra:- Paul Shane

Joseph:- Andrew Lloyd Webber

Hale:- Russell Harty (as in Hale and Hearty)