Bob CHAMPION (1948-)

Bob Champion This Is Your Life
  • The second This Is Your Life subject to be surprised on their wedding day!

programme details...

  • Edition No: 574
  • Subject No: 570
  • Broadcast date: Tue 13 Oct 1981
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.00pm
  • Recorded: Mon 12 Oct 1981
  • Venue: Wedding Marquee, Chipping Campden
  • Series: 22
  • Edition: 1
  • Code name: Wonder

on the guest list...

  • Jo - wife
  • Fred Winter
  • Richard Pitman
  • Jonathan Powell
  • Bob Davies
  • Terry Biddlecombe
  • John Francome
  • Bob - father
  • Phyllis - mother
  • Mary - sister
  • Richard - brother-in-law
  • Nicky - nephew
  • Emma - niece
  • Margaret Neesham
  • David Anker
  • John Rickman
  • Howard Thompson
  • Derek Thompson
  • Arthur - uncle
  • Eileen - aunt
  • Jim Old
  • Sally Old
  • Ian Watkinson
  • Carol Blackmoor
  • Josh Gifford
  • Burly Cocks
  • Babs Cocks

production team...

  • Researcher: unknown
  • Writers: Tom Brennand, Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Paul Stewart Laing, Terry Yarwood
  • Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Equestrian Life

from racing to show jumping


the show's fifty year history

Terry Biddlecombe


Bob Champion recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in March 2010

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Photographs and screenshots of Bob Champion This Is Your Life

Roy Bottomley This Is Your Life book

Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, This Is Your Life: The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book...

Few of the nation's jockeys could summon the sheer guts and determination of a National Hunt jockey whose story touched all hearts.

Monday 12 October 1981, saw the Life team smuggled into the pretty Cotswold village of Chipping Camden. Bob Champion was getting married at the parish church of St James. Guests included Terry Biddlecombe, John Francome, Richard Pitman, Fred Winter, Lord John Oaksey, John Rickman and Josh Gifford. [ editor: Lord John Oaksey does not appear in the broadcast version]

Wedding bells were ringing, confetti was being thrown, when an 'uninvited' guest, Eamonn Andrews, stepped forward outside the church. We recorded the programme in the wedding reception marquee.

That year, Bob Champion had not only won the Grand National, he had won a battle against cancer after being given just eight months to live.

Like something from a film script, his favourite horse, Aldaniti, had 'broken down' twice, having strained a tendon on the same foreleg on both occasions, and, like the jockey, seemed certain never to race again.

But in his hospital bed, fighting the cancer and undergoing the most painful treatments Bob Champion told trainer Josh Gifford, 'Never mind, Aldaniti and myself will just have to make our comeback together.'

From then on, his dream was to win the Grand National on his favourite horse. The odds against them doing it must have been incalculable.

But then so was the depth of bravery and determination of rider - and horse. They made it.

The Times article: Bob Champion This Is Your Life

The Times 13 October 1981

This is your wife... and This Is Your Life: Bob Champion (centre) this year's Grand National winner and his bride, Jo Beswick, aged 25, who is also a jockey, waylaid by Eamonn Andrews after their marriage yesterday.

The couple's plans for a quiet wedding night at a secret destination were thwarted as they left the church at Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, near the bride's home, when a television team arrived to make a programme for the famous television series about the jockey who conquered cancer.

Among those taking part in the programme were the jockeys Terry Biddlecombe, who married earlier this month, John Francome, and Bob Davies. Josh Gifford, who trained this year's National winner, and Fred Winter also took part.

Mr Champion said his wife's steeplechasing days were over. "One jockey in the family is enough", he said. "I do not approve of women jockeys and I do not want Jo to hurt herself."

The couple, who met seven years ago at a race, have no time for a honeymoon. Mr Champion, who recently rode his 400th winner, will be riding again tomorrow at Plumpton or Wetherby.

The Guardian article: Bob Champion This Is Your Life

The Guardian 13 October 1981

BOB Champion, who rode this year's Grand National winner Aldaniti married a woman jockey, Jo Beswick, at Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, yesterday.

The couple who said they had planned a quiet wedding found themselves waylaid as they left the church by Eamonn Andrews and the This Is Your Life team. Bob Champion's riding career was interrupted by cancer. But he recovered and went on to win the National.

Best man was the ITV racing commentator Derek Thompson and the 25-year-old bride was given away by her brother Philip.

The couple are having no honeymoon. Bob, who recently rode his 400th winner, will be out again tomorrow.

Series 22 subjects

Bob Champion | Bill Fraser | Wayne Sleep | Ian Botham | Cannon and Ball | Rob Buckman | Angela Rippon
Julia McKenzie | Jackie Milburn | Paul Shane | Peter Adamson | Kiri Te Kanawa | Mickie Most | Anita Harris
Mike Brace | Faith Brown | Robin Bailey | Rod Hull | Bob Monkhouse | John Toshack | Wally Herbert
Joe Gormley | Roger Whittaker | Alan Whicker | Peter Davison | Douglas Bader