Is This Your Life?
Radio Times
26 September 1958
Radio Times Eamonn Andrews article
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Eamonn Andrews

a brief biography

Zsa Zsa Gabor

Eamonn Andrews reintroduces two old favourites, 'What's My Line?' and 'This Is Your Life', which return to television this week.

They say that if people tell you often enough you're not looking well, you'll just die. And by now so many people have said to me 'When is What's My Life? coming back?' or 'Is This Is Your Line starting again?' that I've got to keep checking over to myself, and muttering out loud, just in case the correct titles do die on my lips.

An inconsiderate British Broadcasting Corporation has made accurate articulation even more difficult by programming both these shows to begin again on the same weekend, What's My Line is scheduled for Sunday and This Is Your Life for Monday, so for yours truly it's the most exciting weekend since I scurried away from these shows last May.

Unkind colleagues on Sports Report hint undarkly and openly that I make a practise of running for cover when the Soccer season ends because I want to hide the guilty secret of my appalling ignorance of the game of cricket. They only say it because it's true – or partly.

In fact I head for the U.S.A. on a sort of extra-mural trip to take part in the New York version of What's My Line as a panellist – a sort of penitential exercise to purge myself of the pomposities and know-it-all qualities of show-business chairmen everywhere. They've got, incidentally, a much more diplomatic word for a chairman in the U.S.A. He's called a moderator. There's a certain Dag Hammarskjold dignity about the title, which, when you consider that I've got Gilbert Harding to moderate on, either for or against, is not altogether inapt.

It may even be more appropriate this season. Apart from Gilbert, I have to contend with the practised wiles of Isobel Barnett, who has become so adroit a panellist that the slightest crumb of a clue looms immediately in her brain as a clear and shouting signpost.

Newcomers will be Farmer Moult who, as soon as I turned my back, captivated the country, I hear, with his bewildering but modestly delivered knowledge on Ask Me Another; and Sara Leighton, a twenty-three-year-old actress of partly Irish extraction, who I believe will disprove the loosely held theory that Shape does not go hand in hand with Sharpness. Sign in please...

But back to the U.S.A. In between sessions in New York, I checked with Ralph Edwards in Hollywood, the man who dreamed up This Is Your Life. While I was there, they presented the 'life' of famous hotel impresario Conrad Hilton. But they left out ex-wife Zsa Zsa Gabor... and you should have heard her late that night on the Jack Paar show! Zsa Zsa presents no problem to the This Is Your Life team in London, fortunately.

Camouflage 'Par Excellence'

The really big problem is this: to keep finding people, who not only have stories worth telling but can be brought within camera range and not suspect what's going to happen. Without giving any secrets away, I think I can say this puzzle has been solved.

One of the main aids to solution has been flexibility. You'll just never know where the This Is Your Life cameras are going to be, and even if you did you might not be able to see them. This is camouflage par excellence.

So if some evening your wife, while you're sitting in front of your winter fires, asks you to move slightly to the left, it may just be to get you in the camera shot. Behind the door, up the chimney, on the roof, may be some of your long-lost friends waiting to pay you the greatest compliment of your life.

Because that's just what we're doing – paying a compliment – surprising, exciting, unorthodox though it may be – when, from this Monday, we look straight at some person and say: 'THIS IS YOUR LIFE'.