Gyles BRANDRETH (1948-)

Gyles Brandreth This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1129
  • Subject No: 1103
  • Broadcast date: Fri 1 Aug 2003
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Sat 22 Mar 2003 11.30pm
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 43
  • Edition: 24
  • Code name: Farmer

on the guest list...

  • cast members of Zipp!
  • Lynda Bellingham
  • David Croft
  • Jennifer - sister
  • Michele - wife
  • Benet - son
  • Saethryd - daughter
  • Aphra - daughter
  • Richard Whiteley
  • Ray Cooney
  • Bonnie Langford
  • Nicholas Parsons
  • Anne Diamond
  • Nick Owen
  • David Willetts
  • Jeremy Hanley
  • Andrew C Wadsworth
  • Rosalind Ayres
  • Martin Jarvis
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Alice - mother
  • Polly - niece
  • Ginny - sister
  • Ann Widdecombe
  • Jim Davidson

production team...

  • Researcher: Ruth Malone
  • Writer: Joe Steeples
  • Director: John Gorman
  • Associate Producer: Helen Gordon-Smith
  • Series Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • Producer: Sue Green
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Gyles Brandreth recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in May 2022

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Screenshots of Gyles Brandreth This Is Your Life

North Wales Live 8 August 2003

Surprise for Gyles as Aspel pounces with big red book

FORMER Chester MP Gyles Brandreth was genuinely surprised when Michael Aspel addressed him with those famous words 'This is Your Life' - but it didn't shut him up!

Mr Brandreth, whose story featured in last Friday's show on BBC1, was 'got' while taking the curtain call after performing in his own musical at London's Duchess Theatre.

'I was gobsmacked,' said Mr Brandreth, who is known as a good talker and was clearly not rendered speechless.

'I was dressed in a frock. I said 'You've caught me, Michael, and you've caught me in a frock!'.'

He added: 'I told the audience that Michael Aspel looked as good close up as he did on television. I also said this happens every night in this show.'

Mr Brandreth's wife Michele, son Benet and daughters Saethryd and Aphra had been sworn to secrecy for weeks and he had absolutely no idea what was being plotted.

The family was whisked off in a car to Thames Television's studios for the recording of the programme which began about midnight and was followed by a party which went on into the small hours.

Mr Brandreth, whose family home is in London, didn't get to bed until 5am.

He said: 'They covered my time as MP for Chester and as a government minister. In fairness, they did quite a bit on my childhood and quite a bit on my time in the theatre in my 20s and quite a lot on television, as you would expect.'

'Anne Diamond and Nick Owen were there from my time on breakfast TV and Richard Whiteley from my Countdown days.'

Inevitably there were references to the colourful woolly jumpers Gyles was known for wearing on TV.

'There were plenty of photographs of me wearing them and footage going back 35 years,' said Brandreth, who was elected Conservative MP for Chester in 1992 and stood again in 1997 but was defeated by Labour's Christine Russell.

Among the guests was Oxford University chum and Tory MP Ann Widdecombe who told a humorous anecdote about her friend.

'She was very funny. We were at university together so we must have known each other for 35 years.'

Comic Jim Davidson had recorded a video-taped message. The final guest was actor and close friend Martin Jarvis and his wife Rosalind Ayres, who had flown in from Los Angeles.

Also in the audience were people connected with the Brandreths' teddy bear museum at Stratford-upon-Avon and old political pals from his days as MP.

'There were members of the Conservative Party from Chester. I'm sure most people in Chester are members of the Conservative Party - they just keep quiet about it!'

It was Mr Brandreth's private member's Bill that led to the 1994 Marriage Act which allowed couples to get married at licensed venues like hotels, castles, town halls and race courses. To his slight disappointment, the achievement didn't get mentioned.

'There were lots of gaps,' he said, and added mischievously: 'Nor did they mention Christine Russell. They said 'Who's she?'

'To be honest it was quite nice seeing it on TV because it reminded me what happened. The whole thing was so fast and furious on the night that I was in a bit of a daze.'

Mr Brandreth's production Zipp! - billed as 100 musicals in 90 minutes - has now come to the end of its run in the West End but he is about to take it on a European tour. He says 'there is talk' of it being taken to New York.

'We open in Glasgow and close in Oslo and there are some of my favourite cities in between like Copenhagen and Milton Keynes,' Mr Brandreth added.

Series 43 subjects

David Dickinson | Mo Mowlam | Gillian Taylforth | Mike Rutherford | John McArdle | Elmer Bernstein | Charles Collingwood
Jonathan Davies | Elizabeth Pescops | George Best | Lisa Maxwell | Roger Cook | Bob Monkhouse | Nicholas Winton
Anthony Andrews | Alex Norton | John Bardon | Simon Cowell | Alec Stewart | Vic Armstrong | Chris Bonington
John Middleton | Bob Harris | Gyles Brandreth | Aled Jones