Danny LA RUE (1927-2009)

Danny La Rue This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 651
  • Subject No: 644
  • Broadcast date: Wed 18 Apr 1984
  • Broadcast time: 8.00-9.00pm
  • Recorded: Tue 20 Mar 1984
  • Venue: Royalty Theatre
  • Series: 24
  • Edition: 26
  • Code name: Street

on the guest list...

  • Lionel Jeffries
  • cast members of Hello, Dolly!
  • Derek Batey
  • Harold Berens
  • David Berglas
  • Con Cluskey
  • Dec Cluskey
  • Roger De Courcey
  • Billy Dainty
  • Jack Douglas
  • George Elrick
  • Arthur English
  • Alan Freeman
  • Vince Hill
  • Roy Hudd
  • Jimmy Logan
  • Davy Kaye
  • Pete Murray
  • Bill Pertwee
  • Michael Robbins
  • Cardew Robinson
  • Ben Warriss
  • Bert Weedon
  • Bernie Winters
  • Frankie Vaughan
  • Richard - brother
  • Kathleen - sister-in-law
  • Lynne - niece
  • Nancy - sister
  • John - brother-in-law
  • Percy - nephew
  • Mary - niece
  • Tina - niece
  • Jim Ratcliffe
  • Honor Ratcliffe
  • Barbara Windsor
  • Eileen Rowlinson
  • Ted Gatty
  • Alan Haynes
  • Anne Corbett
  • Emma Corbett
  • Sophie Corbett
  • Googie Withers
  • John McCallum
  • Freddie Carpenter
  • Anna Neagle
  • Donald Sinden
  • Marc Sinden
  • Larry Grayson
  • Anita Harris
  • Alfred Marks
  • Lance Percival
  • Sylvia King
  • Noele Gordon
  • Douglas Byng
  • Jimmy Tarbuck
  • Margot Fonteyn
  • Winnie Ratcliffe
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Wayne King
  • Vera Lynn
  • Liberace

production team...

  • Researchers: David Mason, Miriam O'Callaghan
  • Writers: Tom Brennand, Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Michael D Kent, Terry Yarwood
  • Associate Producer: Brian Klein
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...
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Screenshots of Danny La Rue This Is Your Life

Danny La Rue autobiography

Danny La Rue recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, From Drags to Riches...

I think Hello, Dolly! was one of the best things I have ever done and I could live with the part of Dolly Levi for a long time.

When the musical ended its all too brief run in March, the show was playing to respectable houses, after a stuttering start throughout winter. Business had started to pick up and looked very healthy indeed. If the management company had kept faith in us, I think it could have become a sizeable hit. But they had lost a lot of money. We had been due to transfer theatres in March, anyway, as the Prince of Wales had been booked to house Little Me, but there was no other suitable theatres available to take us. So it was the end of a happy road. It had been pure joy appearing with Lionel Jeffries and the rest of a fine company.

Before we finished our run, there was a surprise in store for me when we reached our one hundredth performance. I was taking the final curtain at the end of the show when Lionel stepped forward for no reason at all. I looked puzzled wondering what it was all about.

'No, Danny, I haven't gone stark staring mad,' he said. 'Tonight is a very special night, because, as you know, it is our one hundredth performance of Hello, Dolly! in the West End. And, as a great tribute to you, we have a special bouquet.'

On cue, on to the stage emerged an enormous display of silk flowers. It was beautiful. Lurking behind the man-sized flowers was Eamonn Andrews with his large red book. My face dropped. I knew what was going to happen, but I was absolutely stunned.

'Oh, no, Eamonn,' I babbled. 'Not after all these years.'

He thrust the leather bound book in front of me.

'I don't have to tell you it's not Hello, Dolly!, but "Hello, Danny",' he said. 'Tonight, Danny La Rue, star of this show and many, many others... this is your life.'

I had been well and truly caught. A feeling of horror went through my body. I went cold. Hot. And cold again. I was mortified, dumbstruck. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to say.

Apparently, the people at Thames Television had spoken to Jack and the family on several occasions to try and organise a programme. Each time, they always decided against it. This was the fifth time of asking. In the past, I had maintained that, if I was ever approached by Eamonn Andrews and the book, I would walk out immediately. Yet I knew if Jack had given his agreement for the programme to go ahead, he must have had a very good reason for it, and I respected the man too much. I knew I had to go through with it. Jack had always said he would only agree for This Is Your Life to go ahead if they presented an hour-long show instead of the usual thirty minutes, which was very rare. Thames had agreed.

I had been taken completely by surprise. I knew absolutely nothing about it. And yet, thinking back, there had been several incidents which should have made me suspicious. So that was why Richard, my hairdresser, had insisted on cutting my hair at that particular time. That was why Lionel Jeffries had insisted he take me out to dinner for no apparent reason after that particular show, and he made sure I wore a suit to the show instead of my usual jeans and casual gear. It all made sense.

I didn't panic. I was going to give a performance.

I was actually in a daze for the entire hour-long show as people from my past popped up to pay the most marvellous tributes to me and my work. It was like a conveyor belt of nostalgia and memories. My family and friends from Devon: Winnie Ratcliffe, Ted Gatty, Mrs Hutton, who had all influenced my life. My wonderful colleagues from the Grand Order of Water Rats. It was all very emotional. There were some marvellous comments, too. Margot Fonteyn was glowing, Jimmy Tarbuck was hilarious, and Liberace, on film from America, didn't miss a single opportunity to get a plug in for his restaurant in Las Vegas, as only he knew how.

However, I was saddened when my best friend, Ronnie Corbett, couldn't be there in person, as Eamonn Andrews said, 'through other commitments'. He was under contract to the BBC and had to ask for their permission to appear in the ITV show. He was turned down. I was very much offended by that kind of stupid attitude and pettiness on the part of the BBC. Ron's wife, Anne, came on with the children, while Ronnie had to stay in the audience. He was desolate. But it didn't spoil a marvellous night. We had a smashing party and reunion afterwards and talked long into the next morning, and reminisced about old times. It was a great honour for me, but I didn't recover from the shock for a whole week.

Series 24 subjects

John Mills | Norman Parkinson | Chaim Topol | Pat Jennings | Susannah York | Stuart Henry | George Thomas | Richard Noble
Matthew Kelly | Gloria Cameron | Geraint Evans | Matthew Lethbridge | Liza Goddard | Terry Lawless | Jim Davidson
Chris Gittins | Bob Todd | Nerys Hughes | Mike Spring | Eddie Macken | Freddie Starr | Kathy Staff
Jenny Pitman | Brian Blessed | Laddie Lucas | Danny La Rue