Bill PERTWEE (1926-2013)

Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1021
  • Subject No: 996
  • Broadcast date: Mon 1 Feb 1999
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Thu 21 Jan 1999
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 39
  • Edition: 22
  • Code name: Raid

on the guest list...

  • Ian Lavender
  • Mollie Sugden
  • Pearl Carr
  • Teddy Johnson
  • Judi Spiers
  • Carol Hawkins
  • Jonathan - son
  • Marion - wife
  • William Moore
  • Peter Goodwright
  • Pamela Cundell
  • Hugh Hastings
  • Frank Williams
  • David Croft
  • Jimmy Perry
  • Clive Dunn
  • Mary Law
  • Pat Castle
  • Jean Sadler
  • Yvonne Mully
  • Nina Griffin
  • Bill Maynard
  • Marguerite Patten
  • John Chapman
  • Bernard Cribbins
  • Liza Goddard
  • Donald Hewlett
  • Brenda Cowling
  • Yvonne Marsh
  • Barbara New
  • Paul Shane
  • John Wallace
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Roy Hudd
  • Brian Murphy
  • Spike Milligan
  • Su Pollard

production team...

  • Researchers: Ben Farrell, Sue Venables
  • Writer: Joe Steeples
  • Directors: John Gorman, Paul Kirrage
  • Associate Producer: Helen Gordon-Smith
  • Executive Producer: John Longley
  • Series Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • Producer: Sue Green
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Bill Pertwee recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in March 2010

Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

Bill Pertwee's autobiography

Bill Pertwee recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, A Funny Way To Make A Living...

In the later 1990's, Marion's health was causing all of us some concern. However, there were certainly some really happy and jolly moments which she was able to enjoy. One of those moments took place one day in 1999, and began with my having been asked by my agent to introduce a film about the 1940's at The Imperial War Museum in London. I was driven up to town after lunch, and was told the driver would wait and drive me home, as I wouldn't be there too long.

Well, time went on, with not much happening, other than people offering me cups of tea. I was getting quite cross at this stage, as I only had a few lines to say to camera. Eventually, I was wired up for sound and taken into one of the museum's re-creations of an air raid shelter, where there were quite a few people dressed in 1940s clothes, who were going to be milling around behind me. There was a lot of business going on with the camera crew, and I was by now annoyed about all this time-wasting, for what seemed a straight-forward bit of filming. Eventually, they were ready to go, with the usual words 'Turn over', but before I could start my first line, I was slightly jolted by someone behind me. Thinking it was someone trying to get his or her face in the shot, I stopped and turned round, and to my amazement, it was Ian Lavender, my Dad's Army colleague, dressed in a '40's coat and hat. I said 'What the hell are you doing here?' and he said 'Someone wants to meet you,' or words to that effect, and pointed to my left. I turned round, and there was Michael Aspel with his big red book, who immediately said, the fatal words, 'Bill Pertwee, this is your life'.

Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

Well, I was speechless. Eventually I think I said something like 'Bloody Hell!' and from that moment and through the rest of the afternoon and evening, I was in a sort of daze.

Naturally, it had been in the planning stage for several weeks, all of which I'd been oblivious to. A large car was waiting to take me to the studios at Teddington, and it even had a small bar in it. I do remember saying to my lady companion in the car, 'What about my driver? He'll be waiting for me,' but she said, 'Don't worry: as soon as he dropped you off, he went home.' So he was in on the secret as well.

I was also anxious about Marion, and again the lady told me that she was already at the studios with Jonathan, along with several car-loads of friends from our village. When I arrived at the studios, I was put in a dressing room complete with a plateful of nice snacks and a bottle of scotch. I was then told a couple of ladies would be taking it in turns to stay with me until I was called to make my entrance on stage with Michael Aspel. I asked why it was necessary for the girls to stay, as I was quite OK, but I was told the reason was that a previous guest had got very nervous and, obviously deciding he didn't want to go ahead with his This Is Your Life, had jumped out of the window and made a run for it, so the programme had to be cancelled.

When I did make my entrance, it was just amazing. The first person I saw was Marion, sitting in a comfy armchair and her brother Johnny was nearby with Jonathan, my nephew James and his son Richard, and behind them, was a whole host of friends, some from our village, and in a fairly prominent position was my old mate and publicist, Tony Mulliken, who had set up the whole event.

Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

I looked to the left-side and there were many of my dear show business friends: Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, Mollie Sugden, writer John Chapman, my agent, Linda Ronan, broadcaster Judy Spiers, an old school chum from the 1940's, actress Mary Law, and another actress, Carol Hawkins. Then further surprises started, as more chums were brought on. I just couldn't believe how it had all been organised, and of course, all the folk who were already there had been rehearsing while I was sitting in my dressing room with my ladies-in-waiting, a plateful of eatables and a bottle of scotch.

Peter Goodwright was followed by Liza Goddard, Bernard Cribbins, cookery expert Marguerite Patten, and Bill Maynard; and then there were some more memories from friends who were on tour at the time via a TV link-up - Brian Murphy, Roy Hudd, and Su Pollard, and from his home deep in the Sussex countryside, Spike Milligan. All of them had stories concerning me when we worked together, as you might imagine!

As if I wasn't flabbergasted enough at all this, on came a group of 'Burberry girls': chums I'd worked with way back in the later 1940's at that famous London store in the Haymarket. What a joy it was to meet up with them again! Then Michael Aspel introduced the Dad's Army gang, led by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, with Clive Dunn last, who'd just arrived from his home in Portugal. We had a good laugh together, but he always made me laugh a lot, and following on were my mates from You Rang M'Lord?

And then Michael Aspel sprang the surprise of a lifetime. He introduced someone I hadn't seen for well over fifty years. His name was John Wallace and all those years ago he'd saved me, when I'd had my accident in the school swimming pool. He was then a little tubby boy who we used to call 'Fluge', from the song The Flat Foot Fluge With The Floy Floy: goodness knows why? Anyway, Fluge was the one who had seen I hadn't pulled out of a dive and realised I was lying on the bottom of the pool, out for the count. Although he didn't swim himself, he jumped in and brought me to the surface, shouting for help, which arrived pretty quickly, I'm told.

Bill Pertwee This Is Your Life

Here now, standing next to me, was John (Fluge) Wallace from all those years back, and do you know, he still had that cheeky chubby look I remembered! You can imagine my feelings on seeing him again – if it hadn't been for his quickness of thought, and bravery, well...!! John had done very well at university, and become a teacher at a very high level. How they traced him, I can't quite remember, but I'm very glad they did.

We had a super party in the studio restaurant after the show, which seemed to go on forever, I'm happy to say. Everyone seemed to have a good time: I certainly did, and it was a great night to remember, aided by a lot of photos and the video.

The production department were kind to Marion and arranged a wheelchair for her up to the party, and I cannot thank Michael Aspel enough for his relaxed and professional handling of the whole proceedings. He was so kind and thoughtful to Marion, knowing of her disability, and she had a great evening too and as a result, became a life-long fan of Michael's. This was Marion's last social appearance, because of her arthritis, but as she said, 'How could you follow that anyway? A wonderful day!'

Series 39 subjects

Charles Stewart | Carol Smillie | Roy Walker | Sharron Davies | Christopher Chittell | Barbara Dickson | Frank Thornton
Phillip Schofield | Alastair Stewart | Bob Wilson | Frankie Dettori | Elizabeth Spriggs | Rick Wakeman | Sue Johnston
Lord Deedes | Sylvia Young | Anne Kirkbride | Christopher Biggins | Damon Hill | George Layton | Floella Benjamin
Bill Pertwee | Mark Cook | Gary Mabbutt | Suzi Quatro | Ian Bannen