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Radio Times
27 June 1963
Radio Times Eamonn Andrews article
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Eamonn Andrews

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Eamonn Andrews


Only once has Eamonn Andrews been seen at a loss for words – on the night eight years ago when he was tricked into becoming the first subject of This Is Your Life. It was an improbable sight, for as his mother confided during the programme, she had known from the moment he uttered his first cry that her son's tongue was set for wagging.

Even among the Irish Eamonn was acknowledged a formidable talker, long before his brogue was heard on the air in this country. An amateur boxing champion himself, he did his first ringside commentary for Radio Eireann while still a nineteen-year-old Dublin insurance clerk, and when he turned freelance broadcaster he soon built a reputation as compere and sports commentator.

But it took time for the Andrews brand of blarney to break into British radio. At first jobs were few and far between. There were days when he walked the three miles from his London 'digs' to Broadcasting House to save the bus fare. It was on Sports Report, appropriately enough, that he got his first real chance in 1951. Then came What's My Line? and the headline-hitting clashes with Gilbert Harding – and Eamonn talked himself to fame.

His virtues as a broadcaster are not of themselves unique. There are plenty of professionals who combine the gift of the gab with a classless, unaffected voice; who always keep a level head, never dry up, and can 'ad lib' their way through a studio crisis. But Eamonn Andrews adds to these essentials a quality which if it is simpler is also rarer.

A television camera in close-up shows with complete frankness a man as he is – and it shows Eamonn as a friendly, unassuming character more concerned to bring out the best in others than parade his own personality. He sees himself not as a performer but a presenter of people. His sympathies are on the side of the shy and nervous; but in his kindness there is no condescension, while equally in his firmness with an unruly panellist there is no arrogance.

On and off the screen he is the same thoroughly likeable person; genuinely modest, happier at home with his wife and adopted daughter than in the show business haunts of the West End. It is no small tribute that one believes he means it when he says: 'I'm just an ordinary chap. I try my best with what I've got.'