Elizabeth DAWN (1939-2017)

Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 769
  • Subject No: 760
  • Broadcast date: Wed 10 Jan 1990
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Tue 24 Oct 1989
  • Venue: Granada Studios, Manchester
  • Series: 30
  • Edition: 12
  • Code name: Dusk

on the guest list...

  • William Tarmey
  • Peter Baldwin
  • Thelma Barlow
  • Amanda Barrie
  • Betty Driver
  • Geoff Hinsliff
  • Kevin Kennedy
  • Anne Kirkbride
  • Sally Ann Matthews
  • Alan Moore
  • Jill Summers
  • Michael Le Vell
  • Bill Waddington
  • Sally Whittaker
  • William Roache
  • Don - husband
  • Ann - daughter
  • Julie - daughter
  • Dawn - daughter
  • Graham - son
  • Lynn - daughter-in-law
  • Nigel Pivaro
  • Albert - brother
  • Maisie - sister
  • Ann Harrison
  • Jacqueline Winfield
  • Doreen Hudson
  • Nellie - aunt
  • Alex - uncle
  • Larry Grayson
  • Father Terry O'Meara
  • Luke - grandson
  • Thomas - grandson
  • Andrea - son-in-law
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Julie Goodyear
  • Bernard Manning

production team...

  • Researcher: Tom Wettengel
  • Writer: Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Brian Klein, Paul Kirrage
  • Associate Producer: John Graham
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...
Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Elizabeth Dawn This Is Your Life

Elizabeth Dawn's autobiography

Elizabeth Dawn recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in her autobiography, My Story...

When they got me for This Is Your Life I was waiting to go into hospital for an operation, so I was hardly feeling my best. The programme was in October, and I went in for the operation in December. I put my operation off three times because of the demands of Street storylines.

I had my eyes done at the same time. It was great to get all those horrible lines removed, I felt so much better afterwards. I came out with two black eyes but I felt a lot better. Eyes are special to women. The skin around there is one of those areas that seems to be the first to go. It is the bit of your face that shows all your tiredness.

I said to the surgeon who was doing the operation, 'I just want to look less tired.' I wanted those bags under my eyes unpacking for a while. They looked as though they were ready for a round-the-worid trip when I went in. I didn't want anything drastic. I never regretted it. Since then l have met lots of women who go on and on about all the wrinkles round their eyes. I always say, 'Get them done. You'll feel a lot better.' You can have the operation and go out the same day.

I don't see anything wrong with a bit of cosmetic surgery here and there to keep you looking your best. Some women save up and have a new three-piece suite. I would rather make do with the old suite and be happier with what I could see in the mirror. Anyway it's very common now. I saved up to get my eyes done, and I've never looked back! I hope you'll excuse the dreadful pun.

But that was why I was hardly looking my best when Michael Aspel approached me with that big red book. I felt so down and weak.

Don dropped me off in town that morning. He had to go to Granada, and I went shopping. He had been behaving so strangely with all the preparations that I had started to suspect he had another woman. He seemed to be putting the phone down on some mysterious call every time I walked into the room.

They had told me I was required to do a promotional programme about the Street for Canada. They had offered to send a car for me, and that was the only thing I thought was a bit odd. When they realised I had gone off shopping they started to panic that I would turn up too soon while they were still setting up the catch, because Bill Tarmey who knows me pretty well said, 'She's liable to just jump in a taxi and turn up.' They had people following me round Kendal's. I was there ambling around the lingerie department and they had a couple of women following me radioing back about my whereabouts.

They must have been good at shadowing because I never knew. Don had liaised with the researchers all the way through and I never smelt a rat.

As it happens I arrived at the studio on time. I was really a bit put out to be dragged in on one of my days off to do this thing for Canada. I was feeling a bit down and I had a little cry in my dressing room. The wardrobe lady came in and asked me what the matter was. I said, 'I am just so tired. Why have I had to come in on my day off?'

Then in the scene where they caught me it seemed strange because I had to shout 'Jack' when he wasn't even in the Rovers. I said, 'How can he hear me through the doors?' and they assured me they would time it so he was just coming in.

I had made six This Is Your Life appearances as a guest before, so I knew the format pretty well. It would have felt completely different if I had never been on one. I knew exactly about the spot on the stage where people had to stand, and how Michael kept it all going so well. Once I had been surprised, which was a big shock, I wanted everything to run smoothly. I knew my children were comlng and I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them while I still didn't want to make a fool of myself.

I knew that my family and friends would have all had a really long day because television studios can be very hot and boring places when you're being ordered about through all the endless rehearsals. I was worried about my daughter-in-law with her baby, and it was actually my grandson Thomas's birthday that day.

I was so worried about how everyone else was feeling that when Don's voice was booming behind the screens I didn't recognise it at first. Michael Aspel looked really worried for a minute. I think he was wondering if the researchers had got the wrong man!

It was wonderful to see all my family and friends together. Nearly all the cast were there and even people who weren't in it at the time, like Nigel Pivaro who plays my screen son Terry, I was delighted he had made it. The producers liked it because there was a big family to be the centre of it all.

Bernard Manning gave a tribute to me, which was nice, even if he did call me a Lancashire lass instead of Yorkshire. Maybe Vera sounded so Lancashire that had convinced him.

It is a terrific honour because they only ever do so many of them. I just wish I had felt healthier while it was happening. I was on my last legs when I did it.

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...

Elizabeth Dawn – that great character Vera Duckworth – also proved to have a past in the entertainment business, starting as a club singer in her native Yorkshire between jobs in a toffee factory, as a shoe-shop assistant and in a real-life 'Mike Baldwin'-type clothing factory.

Michael Aspel came to give her the surprise of her life – Vera would giggle at that – in the Rover's Return as a result of a 'white lie' script I wrote to promote Coronation Street in Canada.

Vera was sitting at the bar and called out to husband Jack (Bill Tarmey) to take a telephone call. All went fine on the first 'take' but we needed another to be certain. This time the urbane Aspel, in cloth cap, took Jack's place.

For the first time in a long time, Liz Dawn was at a loss for words. And that is saying something of a lady whose husband, Don Ibbetson, told us his impression on first meeting her in a pub: 'I reckoned she'd been vaccinated with a gramophone needle.'

Julie Goodyear's hysterically funny contribution was memorable, even though she wasn't there in person. She was on holiday in Cyprus, where we had filmed her. When we saw the film, we howled, and so did Liz Dawn. Julie, typically mischievous, had surrounded herself by what could only be described as the local 'Chippendales'.

'Big lads, aren't they?' said Julie, dead-pan. Then she added, 'You know that bit at the end of This Is Your Life where they fly you in?' A slow-burn glance at her 'Chippendales'. 'Well, I'm not coming!'

But there were a few tears that weren't of laughter. This went back to when Liz had been asked for her autograph by a group of deaf people. She had been so touched that Father Terry O'Meara, who runs a deaf choir (they 'sing' the words in sign language), told us Liz was now fund-raiser in chief, and was even learning sign language herself.

Series 30 subjects

Omar Sharif | Sarah Brightman | Yvonne Cormeau | Cyril Smith | Jean Boht | Zsa Zsa Gabor | Alec McCowen | Barbara Cartland
Douglas Fairbanks Jr | William Shatner | Barbara Taylor Bradford | Elizabeth Dawn | Billy Wright | Trevor McDonald
Stephanie Beacham | Simon Weston | Peter Scudamore | Peter Cushing | David Shepherd | Harry Secombe
Nigel Kennedy | Eluned Williams | Billy Marsh | Bob Holness | Bobby Davro | Michael Baldock | Ken Dodd