Secrets of Aspel's Success...
The Mirror
30 August 1997
This Is Your Life Big Red Book
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BYLINE: Chris Hughes

This Is Your Life (BBC1, Monday, 7pm)

Michael Aspel books in for another round of the celebrity ambush show which has notched up 30 years on the box.

And we're promised that some juicy secrets will be revealed.

"This time every effort has been made to provide the show with top-class subjects," a BBC insider says.

Last year more than 13 million people watched as EastEnders star Ross Kemp's life story was told.

And this year producers are aiming for the same kind of ratings in a bid to keep it in the TV top ten.

This Is Your Life researchers are on tenterhooks until the last minute, fearful that they will be found out.

The moment a celebrity discovers he or she is to get the red book treatment the programme is abandoned.

This Is Your Life veteran Eamonn Andrews was the first victim in 1955.

The show ran on BBC until 1964, reappeared on ITV and was hosted by Andrews until his death in 1987.

A year later, with the show back on the Beeb, Aspel took over and has been in charge ever since.

[ editor: The programme didn't actually return to the BBC until 1994]

Sixties model Twiggy was the youngest subject as a teenager.

The oldest was 92-year-old former West End star Cathleen Nesbitt.

[ editor: Actually, the overall record holders appeared in the original BBC period (1955-1964): David Butler, who lost his legs in a mortar bomb explosion, was the programme's youngest subject at the age of 17. He was surprised in his headmaster's study in March 1962. And a 100-year-old cricketer, Joe Filliston, became the show's oldest subject in April of the same year, 1962.]

Embarrassing moments include Warren Mitchell accusing Richard Burton of being drunk on air.

Aspel has used a variety of disguises to sneak up on his victims.

Once he even dressed up as a tramp to fool pop star Phil Collins.