This Is Your Life's creator dies
BBC News Online
17 November 2005
Ralph Edwards
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Ralph Edwards

the man who created it all

Birth of Life

the genesis of the programme

The Big Red Book

the programme's icon

Eamonn Andrews

a brief biography

Michael Aspel

a career review

BBC harks back to a previous life

The Guardian reports on the return to the BBC

Eamonn Andrews

Bob Hope

Stanley Matthews

TV pioneer Ralph Edwards, who launched This Is Your Life in the US, has died of heart failure in Hollywood aged 92.

Edwards first created This Is Your Life for radio in the 1940s, before bringing it to television with NBC in 1952.

The format was picked up around the world, with the show airing on both BBC and ITV in the UK for almost 50 years.

Edwards, who won three Emmys during his career, also hosted and produced US shows such as The People's Court and Truth or Consequences.

Stars featured in the US version of This Is Your Life included Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Buster Keaton and Jayne Mansfield, although early editions did not feature celebrities at all.

Edwards appeared on the UK's first edition of the show after a newspaper revealed that footballer Stanley Matthews was to be the first guest.

Big red book

With the surprise ruined, Edwards travelled to the UK, and he confronted BBC host Eamonn Andrews with the programme's big red book, before leading him to the studio to discuss his life with friends and family members.

The series ran until 1964, before being revived on ITV five years later. There, it found a home until 1993, before it moved back to the BBC until 2003. Michael Aspel replaced Andrews as host when Andrews died in 1987.

TV company SMG bought the British rights to the format from Edwards' company last month and is working on a pilot show with a new presenter.

Among Edwards' achievements was persuading the citizens of the town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, to change its name to Truth or Consequences in 1950. In return, he agreed to broadcast the radio show from there.

Half-a-century on, the town still bears that name, and Edwards was a regular visitor.