Biggest night of all for the big red book
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The Evening Standard 14 January 2000

Biggest night of all for the big red book - Essential weekend viewing

By: Kate Crockett

THIS weekend Michael Aspel opens the big red book on This Is Your Life in The Night Of 1000 Lives (Saturday, BBC1, 8.55pm) to celebrate the show which has turned the pages on more than 1000 people in the past 45 years.

His studio audience is made up of members of that very exclusive book club, some of whom also join him onstage to recall their feelings about the night of their life.

Archive highlights include original presenter Eamonn Andrews in the first programme, Sir Matt Busby and a shocked Richard Gordon exclaiming: "Oh balls, it can't be me," and hurrying off. From the colour years, there are crimson faces all round - from the moment Ian Botham's mother tells the nation about his ballet lessons to when a university lecturer spills the beans about Carol Vorderman's penchant for thigh-high boots. However, the best character analyses always seem to come from the guests' primary school teachers. One informs David Frost he was "a precocious child and a positive nuisance", while another recalls how he told little Richard Branson: "You'll either become a millionaire or you'll go to prison." A third, a 90-year-old woman, tells Ken Dodd: "Now I'm older than some of your jokes".

Contributions from the studio guests, who include Martin Kemp, Barbara Windsor and Noddy Holder, aren't particularly inspiring, but the original clips are wonderful. There's dirt-dishing and cringing in abundance, and in the end it's all good, clean and, in parts, hilarious entertainment.

Birmingham Post 15 January 2000


Previews By Karen Pagett

Stunned, surprised, hysterical - all these responses and more have been witnessed by viewers over the last 45 years as the 'big red book' was presented to the subjects of 1000 This Is Your Life's.

Occasionally the recipient has run a mile - such as author Richard Gordon when Eamonn Andrews tried to nab him - and often the audience has run a mile as soon as they've discovered the guest is some awful egomaniac who shouldn't be indulged or someone under 30 who hasn't had a life to speak of yet.

But there is much to celebrate in This Is Your Life Presents: The Night of 1000 Lives (BBC1, 8.55pm), a unique television experience in spite of the odd problem. An audience made up of previous Lifers - both famous and the 'who-the-hell-are-they?'s - join Michael Aspel to take a trip through the archives and share a few secrets. There's a hugely emotional moment when Sir Harry Secombe (who, bizarrely if you think about it, has been Lifed twice) receives a standing ovation.

THE JOURNAL (Newcastle) 22 January 2000

It really was a wonderful Life


I got through six tissues, could have sat through it twice over and enjoyed every moving moment. No, not An Officer and a Gentleman [I'd love to know how many times that film has actually been shown on television] but the This is Your Life special, celebrating 1,000 editions of the Red Book show and offering tantalisingly fleeting glances of old favourites such as David Nixon, Arthur Askey, Harry Corbett with Sooty, Frankie Vaughan and so on. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to see more of the star-studded audience and hear their reminiscences or watch more of the old clips from the first shows but when stroke victim Sir Harry Secombe limped on, I couldn't see anything for tears. Corny and contrived it may have been but this was one nostalgic celebration that should have been served up on Millennium Eve.

There was Twiggy, still gorgeous, saying she couldn't understand how she could have been chosen as a subject when she was still so young - and colour film of affable Eamonn Andrews honouring Sir Matt Busby in front of the Old Trafford crowd with a second Red Book programme.

There was everyone from the legendary Bob Hope to the brave Simon Weston.

It was wonderful stuff - and a great way to introduce the first This Is Your Life show of a new century.

So who did we get? Dale Winton. Thanks for nothing.