Canon Edmund ARBUTHNOTT (1909-1998)

This Is Your Life Big Red Book

programme details...

  • Edition No: 104
  • Subject No: 104
  • Broadcast live: Mon 5 Oct 1959
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.05pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 5
  • Edition: 6

on the guest list...

  • Eva Alfert
  • Sid Alfert
  • Freddie Baldwin
  • Eileen Jones
  • Bernie Mahoney
  • Danny Mahoney
  • Seumas Mahoney
  • Joe Mahoney
  • Rev Leslie Fisher
  • Ted Heming
  • Tommy Barham
  • Joyce Moore
  • David Jordan
  • Angela Neale
  • Leslie Hayes
  • Patrick Heffernan
  • Peter Morgan

production team...

  • Researcher: Liam Nolan
  • Writer: Liam Nolan
  • Director: unknown
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
related pages...

Life's Vocation

celebrating the 'men of God'

This Is Your Life

Radio Times feature on the sleuth-like manner of the 'pick-up'

Edmund Arbuthnott This Is Your Life Edmund Arbuthnott This Is Your Life Edmund Arbuthnott This Is Your Life

Photographs of Edmund Arbuthnott This Is Your Life

The Catholic Herald 9 October 1959

'Father Afterthought'

"Father Afterthought" - or more officially Canon Edmund Arbuthnott - got the second surprise of his life when on Monday he was spotlighted as the central figure in the BBC televised This Is Your Life programme. His first surprise was when during the war a German bomb fell on a South London church and he found he still lived.

The Canon was introduced as the man who had a lot to do with the introduction of the Young Christian Workers' movement here 20 years ago; as the priest who was everywhere when bombs fell on Dockside; as head of the Southwark Catholic Rescue Society, where some of his 1000 children could not pronounce his name and called him "Father Afterthought"; and finally as the youth leader who is now back in the YCW movement as its national chaplain.

A Protestant clergyman called to him on the night of a fearful blitz as Fr. Arbuthnott lay buried in the debris "Edmund, don't move," he said, and the minister prayed for him as men struggled for hours to release him. "I'm ready to die," Fr. Arbuthnott replied. But he lived to hear his story retold on the BBC.

Canon Arbuthnott is still wondering who suggested last Monday's telecast. "I've a suspicion Fr. Gordon Albion can explain," he said.

This is the first time that a Catholic personality, particularly a priest, has featured in this popular BBC series.

Research work for the production of this programme was carried out by Mr Liam Nolan, a 28-year-old Irish Catholic who lives in South London and has been nearly two years on the staff of BBC Television as a writer. Fr. Gordon Albion and Fr Agneilus Andrew OFM, were also "in on the secret".

Series 5 subjects

Evelyn Laye | Donald Caskie | Eva Turner | Billy Butlin | James Slater | Edmund Arbuthnott | Louis Langford | O P Jones
Richard Hearne | Francoise Rigby | John Barclay | Thomas Drake | William Merrilees | John Lord | Russ Conway | Stanley Bishop
Leonard Stanmore | Arthur Askey | Robert Oldfield | Alicia Markova | Frederic Morena | Hilda Rowcliffe | Thomas Salmon
Harry Welchman | Harry Webb | Nat Gonella | David Barclay | Richard Todd | Thomas Bodkin | Gracie Fields | Michael Ansell