The Return Of This Is Your Life
Radio Times
28 August 1959
Radio Times This Is Your Life article Radio Times This Is Your Life article
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LIAM NOLAN reminds viewers that this week sees... THE RETURN OF THIS IS YOUR LIFE

On Monday This Is Your Life returns to television for the beginning of its fifth series. No doubt the old controversies will rage as before, and the programme will still have its critics. But critics or no, This Is Your Life remains one of the most compelling half-hour programmes ever screened in this country.

Once again there will be the old snags – the battles against the clock, the searches for subjects, and the problems of thinking up water-tight 'cover stories' to get our subjects unsuspectingly before the cameras.

Writers will travel thousands of miles during the series, going by every means of transport into all sorts of odd corners of Britain and the Continent.

There will be glittering occasions when the famous will appear, and moving moments when 'unknowns' will have their stories unfolded before the weekly audience, which numbers anything up to ten million.

Sometimes our cameras will leave London and go out into the quiet places, to the villages and the quaysides. If we are not able to bring the story to us, then we'll go and get the story wherever it may be.

This Is Your Life has been called many things, from 'an accolade' to 'a form of canonisation.' Occasionally the descriptions have been far from flattering but adverse criticism has never stopped people from watching the programme.

Of course viewers have their own favourite type of subject, and they never hesitate to write in telling us that we show the lives of too many celebrities, or else pointing out that 'unknowns' should be shelved in favour of the big names. We try to cater for all tastes by bringing adventure stories, stories of kindness and human effort, and the success stories of the famous.

If some of our critics claim that the programme is an unpleasant ordeal for those 'in the chair,' read what Alfred Southon, that very brave Londoner who survived a nightmare burial in Alpine snow, had to say after his appearance:

'I was engulfed by a feeling of great happiness and elation. I became oblivious of the cameras, and only the applause reminded me that there was an audience; but the awareness of this caused me not the slightest embarrassment. In fact their ovation made me feel very proud that I had been honoured to appear as the subject in that edition of This Is Your Life.'

Alfred Southon's reactions are typical of those of all subjects who have appeared.

And now the programme starts again. Any ideas about the identity of the person to whom Eamonn Andrews will say the magic words on Monday night?

You never know – it might be YOU!