This Is Your Life
Radio Times
27 September 1962
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Producing Life

the producers who steered the programme's success

Venues and Sets

the studio look and locations

David Butler

Rupert Davies

Bob Oatway

When Eamonn Andrews walks on to the stage of the Television Theatre tonight it will be the 195th time he has introduced This Is Your Life, the programme which began in July 1955 with a startled 'Blimey!' from its first subject – Eamonn Andrews.

It was the only recorded occasion when Eamonn's calm confidence has been shaken. As he says, 'Finding yourself on the "Life" has a tremendous impact, no matter how seasoned one may be. I remember that I didn't focus properly until the show was nearly over, and you'll notice that most of our subjects don't do much until the last ten minutes or so, when they begin to realise what's happening. It's all rather like a dream, because you're so unprepared for it.'

The strict secrecy has long been one of the most controversial elements in the programme. But, says Eamonn: 'I regard it as a surprise party of the kind you might plan for some popular character – inviting a lot of his friends and asking them to keep it under their hats. The reason we spring the programme on people is simply that there is always more pleasure in a surprise.'

There is pleasure, too, for the This Is Your Life team in the warm-hearted response so often shown by viewers. Looking back over the last series, Eamonn recalls particularly David Butler, the disabled boy who was sent a £500 cheque which enabled him to buy a car. Then there was Bob Oatway, who raises funds to provide children with seaside holidays. The morning after his appearance, a viewer arrived at producer T Leslie Jackson's office with a trunk full of clothes, blankets, and toys – and he was only the first of many people eager to help.

Who will be Subject No. 196 tonight? The secret is closely guarded. One thing is certain: that when it is all over someone will be holding a hard copy of a script which he – or she – will always treasure. For, says Eamonn: 'In seven years I've never known a subject who was disgruntled after the programme, no matter how he may have felt about having it sprung on him at the start. After all, when you've had half an hour listening to people saying nice things about you, you're bound to feel pretty good!'