Evelyn GLENNIE (1965-)

Evelyn Glennie This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 804
  • Subject No: 794
  • Broadcast date: Wed 6 Mar 1991
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Fri 16 Nov 1990
  • Venue: Scottish Television, Glasgow
  • Series: 31
  • Edition: 20
  • Code name: Chime

on the guest list...

  • Greg Malcangi - partner
  • Isobel - mother
  • Arthur - father
  • Roger - brother
  • Colin - brother
  • Edna Cadger
  • Isabel Gordon
  • Ron Forbes
  • Ann Rachlin
  • Ezra Rachlin
  • Pamela Dow
  • Patrick Moore
  • James Blades
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Harry Secombe
  • James Galway
  • Richard Stilgoe
  • Jenny - aunt
  • Georg Solti
  • Princess Michael of Kent

production team...

  • Researcher: Sue Green
  • Writer: Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Brian Klein, Terry Yarwood
  • Associate Producer: John Graham
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...
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Photographs and screenshots of Evelyn Glennie This Is Your Life

Evelyn Glennie recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in this exclusive contribution to the BigRedBook website...

It was a horrible rainy day outside but inside we were entertained to a really endearing performance by the youngsters in the primary school. When Michael Aspel came through the door, I turned to Ann Rachlin and said: 'Oh Ann, that's wonderful for you, I'm so happy.' But she said: 'No, it's for you.' I couldn't quite believe it. I thought it was a bit of a wind-up actually. It was amazing. It had been a favourite programme for us to watch as a family so I knew very much about it. But I never thought I would be a subject. You just didn't think things like that happened to you.

I was very pleased with the programme. There was a lot of sensitivity, especially in terms of all the arrangements to get the guests to the studio. Not a single word leaked in any kind of way. I didn't have any clue that something might be going on behind my back. But, looking back, there was something unusual which caught my attention.

I had just started a relationship with my then boyfriend. We were living in separate flats in London when all of a sudden I saw this rather large case down in the cellar of my flat. I thought: 'That's a bit hasty of him. Does he think he's moving in already or something?' I got the wrong end of the stick completely. It turned out that his task for This is Your Life had been to fill a suitcase of clothing because I was just going to have the one set of clothes for the primary school. Of course he hadn't known me long enough to know what I should like to wear for such a programme. He just filled the case with things when I was not looking.

I was still a relatively young person, forging my way as a solo percussionist. But I had already had an autobiography published and had started a long-term record contract. I felt there was a wonderful pool of people and everybody mixed. We all know that success doesn't happen in isolation and I really did feel that we were celebrating together, and that the journey had been a team effort.

I don't like watching myself on television and I can't remember if I saw the transmission the following March. But the reaction to the programme was really, really healthy. I feel that This is Your Life allowed the viewers to get behind who I was as a person, how I do what I do and what my future might be. Along with other chat shows I did at the time, it really opened up an awareness of percussion, with a wide demographic of people coming through the doors of the concert halls.

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...

Just as astonishing was the musical Life of Evelyn Glennie – who had been an acclaimed solo virtuoso percussionist on the concert platform of the world from the time she was twenty-five.

Yet she is profoundly deaf.

This was a unique story of success against all the odds. Evelyn had made history by becoming the first full-time solo virtuoso percussionist ever. And as no fewer than six hundred instruments make up the modern percussion section, that's quite an achievement.

We hit the high road to her native Scotland to surprise her on 16 November 1990. She was at the Glencairn Primary School in Motherwell, presenting musical instruments on behalf of the Beethoven Fund for Deaf Children.

James Galway, Richard Stilgoe, Sir Georg Solti and Princess Michael of Kent were among those waiting to speak to her back at the studios of Scottish Television in Glasgow. What's more, astronomer Patrick Moore was there to re-create a duet of 'The Two Imps' he had played with her on the marimba at a literary dinner.

Confirmation of her international status came when she played Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion with American virtuoso Murray Perahia and Covent Garden maestro Sir Georg Solti, and we had film of this great performance.

What is Evelyn's secret? She 'feels' notes from vibrations – the lower the note, the deeper and stronger the vibration low in the body; the higher notes she detects on the higher body – face, hair, finger-tips.

Her mentor, the world's greatest living percussionist James Blades, then aged ninety, made the journey to Scotland to make a prediction: that Evelyn Glennie will end her days as Dame Evelyn.

Series 31 subjects

Lord Brabourne | Graham Gooch | Norman Barrett | Richard Harris | Tracy Edwards | Stephen Hendry | Robert Pountney
Jimmy Savile | Evelyn Laye | Ernie Wise | Kenneth McKellar | Tom Gleave | Bernard Braden | Barry Foster | Carmen Silvera
Arthur Hailey | Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent | The Bee Gees | John Woodhouse | Evelyn Glennie | David Tomlinson
Dave Willetts | Harry Carpenter | Lionel Bart | Stan Richards | Lonnie Donegan