Barry BRIGGS MBE (1934-)

Barry Briggs This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 380
  • Subject No: 381
  • Broadcast date: Wed 27 Mar 1974
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 20 Mar 1974
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 14
  • Edition: 20

on the guest list...

  • June - wife
  • Murray - brother
  • Tony - son
  • Gary - son
  • Philip Rising
  • Reg Luckhurst
  • Rob Jones
  • Neil Cameron
  • Graeme Stapleton
  • Ronnie Moore
  • Ove Fundin
  • Ivan Mauger
  • Johnnie Hoskins
  • Please note: this is an incomplete list

production team...

  • Researcher: unknown
  • Writer: unknown
  • Director: Royston Mayoh
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
related page...

Life at Full Throttle

the lovers of speed

Barry Briggs This Is Your Life Barry Briggs This Is Your Life Barry Briggs This Is Your Life Barry Briggs This Is Your Life

Photographs of Barry Briggs This Is Your Life

Barry Brigg's autobiography

Barry Briggs recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his book, Wembley And Beyond: My Incredible Journey...

Without doubt the biggest thing I ever did on television... was This Is Your Life with Eamonn Andrews in 1974.

Of course, I knew nothing about what was in store for me when Eamonn confronted me with his red book but later discovered a huge operation had been going on, involving researchers from the show, wife Junie, brother Murray and journalist Philip Rising.

Phil takes up the story: "It was fun helping the guys from Thames Television piece together their tribute to Barry and, along with Junie and Murray, suggest who should figure on the actual show. The big problem was that it was live TV and they only had 30 minutes... we could have done a couple of hours at least. Even late the night before Briggs was due back from New Zealand they were still making changes."

"I was in the bath when I had a telephone call from Frank Hayes, who was orchestrating this particular episode to say that the programme was likely to overrun and that they would need to cut out Ivan Mauger. I nearly drowned! Not only was Ivan an integral part of Barry's story, he had made special arrangements to get back to the UK 24 hours ahead of Barry. No way could Ivan be left on the sidelines. A very harassed scriptwriter had to go back to the drawing-board and Ivan's appearance was restored."

"For many weeks we had been able to construct the programme in relative peace. Barry and Junie were away and the chances of him realising what was going on, which would have resulted in his programme being unceremoniously binned, were slight."

"But, as the day beckoned, we all started to get very nervous. This Is Your Life was a huge TV show at that time, with a weekly audience in excess of 20 million. Barry had signed to ride for Wimbledon and the programme was scheduled for a week before the start of the 1974 season. We arranged for a private practice session for the Dons to be held at their Plough Lane stadium on the day BB arrived back."

"With Barry and Junie away, Murray and I devised a plan to keep Barry away from his Southampton home and ensure that he would be at the stadium at the designated time of 5pm. It was planned to shoot some film of sons Gary and Tony that morning and then drive them and Junie, who somehow managed to persuade Barry to let her come home a day early, to the London studio."

"Murray collected Barry from the airport and drove him straight to Plough Lane. Barry is not the sort of bloke you can 'con' into doing things he doesn't want to do. We decided that we needed a very special reason for keeping him at Wimbledon, when he was anxious to get home, and to explain why there were a number of TV outside broadcast trucks in the car park."

"We were banking on the fact that Briggo wanted a run out at Plough Lane before his first meeting as he had already missed the official practice the week before. We also told him that Thames TV wanted to film a preview to the speedway season and that was why the trucks were there."

"Fortunately, he was a little jet-lagged and tired from his long flight and was easier to manipulate than might otherwise have been the case. He did later confess that he was bemused by the TV units around but thought no more of it. The TV people liked the idea of being able to hook Barry in action before springing their surprise. Hayes, director Peter Webb and his assistant Kay Switser and other members of the Thames team came to Wimbledon for the official practice to work out their strategy and where to hide Andrews."

"We had to ensure that Barry stopped at a particular place; it wouldn't have looked very good if Eamonn had to chase him around the track! It was finally agreed that Barry should be brought to a stop by the starting gate. But how? Once on the track he would want to do his own thing; practice starts, as many laps as he felt like... unless he was under the impression that there was a good reason he should stop on cue."

"I told him that Thames needed him to stop for an interview as part of their preview show and that it was going out live. That meant he had to do what we wanted when we wanted."

"By around 4pm everything was ready: Cameras were in position, Briggo was asked to do four laps and then join the rest of his Wimbledon team-mates on the centre green by the start gate. Miraculously, he did exactly as he was told! On the first lap Eamonn Andrews slipped on to the middle, disguised in white overalls."

"Briggo stopped, dismounted from his bike and as he walked to our group, Neil Cameron said: 'Briggo, I would like you to meet our new mechanic'. And, with that, Eamonn walked forward and uttered those immortal words: 'Barry Briggs, this is your life...'"

"The actor Michael Crawford, who at the time was a huge star with his Some Mothers Do Have 'Em series, was the star guest on the night. I had got to know Michael through the Chelsea footballers, brother-in-law Allan, Ron Harris, Terry Venables and so on."

"But the man who closed the show, after Steve McQueen had turned down an invitation to attend, was Johnnie Hoskins. McQueen thought that the UK version of the programme was like the one in the US, which he hated, but it wasn't."

So, I discovered later, Hoskins stepped up to the plate to close the show, which was always a big thing on This Is Your Life.

Johnnie didn't need a second invitation to grandstand it, he hammed away and did a great job for me and, in fact, the show as a whole.

Looking back, it is quite an honour to be the only speedway rider to have been featured on This Is Your Life. I was told later that Thames had received more letters about including me than anyone else at the time, One letter from Sheffield contained over 400 signatures.

The only blemish is that I don't have a video recording of the show. The original tape was destroyed and in those days, of course, video recorders weren't around. I do, of course, still have the famous red book and some precious photographs.

Speedway Star article: Barry Briggs This Is Your Life

Speedway Star 6 April 1974

TV boys caught me napping


Life's full of surprises... but I must admit I was astounded when Eamonn Andrews suddenly emerged to say "Four times World Champion Barry Briggs – this is your life." There I was, putting in a few practice laps at Wimbledon, supposedly for the benefit of a television crew preparing a speedway preview for "World of Sport". Then out popped Eamonn and a few minutes later I was on my way to the Thames television studios in London.

It was a shock, but a happy one. I had only arrived back in England that morning. My brother Murray and Philip Rising met me at the airport with my car and bike – all part of their plan to make sure I didn't go home to Southampton. The TV boys had already arranged to take some film of my two boys at home that morning and it wouldn't have done if I'd turned up.

After dropping our three Polish friends off in London, we went on to Wimbledon. I spent a couple of hours with Murray working on my bike, had some lunch and then felt so tired that I almost decided to go home. Instead, I drove the car to a secluded corner of the car park, climbed into the back seat and grabbed a couple of hours sleep.


Little did I know it, but the rest of the conspirators were gathering. Reg Luckhurst, Rob Jones, Neil Cameron and Graeme Stapleton, some of my new team-mates, were in on the secret. I was told that they were there to add a bit of realism to the practice. If I hadn't been so tired I'm sure I would have twigged something was wrong. But I didn't.

There was so much television equipment around but I didn't really give it a second thought. I did a dozen or so laps before the TV director indicated that he wanted me to do four more and ride into the group of riders and officials by the tapes, with my motor cut. By the time I got there Eamonn had joined the party, dressed up as a mechanic, and I was hooked.

The rest of the programme was terrific. Ronnie Moore was over from New Zealand, Ove Fundin from Sweden... and I then realised why Ivan Mauger insisted that he leave America a day before me and the rest of the boys. It was a lot of fun. I must give a special mention to Johnnie Hoskins... what a guy!

I never did get home that night. Along with Junie and the boys I stayed in town and went straight to Wimbledon the next day.

By the way, on behalf of the This Is Your Life team, thanks to Peter Collins for loaning a bike and trailer to Michael Crawford for his trip round the streets of Manchester.

Series 14 subjects

Jim Dale | Vic Feather | Hayley Mills | Pete Murray | George Sewell | David Nixon | Robert Dougall | Deryck Guyler
Derek Dougan | William Coles | Jimmy Jewel | John Alderton | Patrick Moore | Sam Kydd | John Dankworth
Gordon Ostlere (Richard Gordon) | Lionel Blair | Sheila Scott | Roy Dotrice | Barry Briggs | Christopher Lee
Beryl Grey | Terry Biddlecombe | Don Revie | Robert Morley | David Hemery | Eamonn Andrews