Harry HILL (1964-)

Harry Hill This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1040
  • Subject No: 1015
  • Broadcast date: Mon 21 Feb 2000
  • Broadcast time: 8.30-9.00pm
  • Recorded: Thu 9 Dec 1999
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 40
  • Edition: 15
  • Code name: Fruit

on the guest list...

  • Al Murray
  • Burt Kwouk
  • cast members of The Harry Hill Show
  • Jan - mother
  • Alan - stepfather
  • Michele - sister
  • Rodney - brother
  • Keith - father
  • Magda - wife
  • Keith Harris
  • Todd Carty
  • Adam Starkey
  • Robert Mills
  • Jennie Bond
  • Geoff Balaam
  • Matt Bradstock-Smith
  • Sam Ulla
  • John Hayter
  • Nigel Tunstall
  • Gyles Dunhill
  • Brenda Gilhooly
  • Alistair McGowan
  • Steve Bowditch
  • Ronnie Corbett
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Frank Skinner
  • Elizabeth - sister
  • Alice - grandmother
  • Caroline - sister
  • members of Caroline's family
  • Wendy Craig
  • David Soul
  • Kitty - daughter
  • Winnie - daughter

production team...

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

It's a Funny Old Life

it's all about the comedy

The Audience

the applause, laughter and tears

Todd Carty

Ronnie Corbett

Wendy Craig

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Screenshots of Harry Hill This Is Your Life

Harry Hill's autobiography

Harry Hill recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Fight!...

At the last recording of Harry Hill, I was joined on stage by a man carrying a big red book under his arm. No, it wasn't my accountant - it was Michael Aspel.

I took one look at him and said, 'I thought you were dead!'

I wasn't lying, I honestly did.

'Harry Hill...' he said in that slightly disinterested way of his, '...this is your life.'

That was a pretty surreal moment - for a start, I was only thirty-six years old.

I was immediately taken through to a sort of holding they set up for the TV recording. I'd been a big fan of the show growing up - it was must-see TV. I remember seeing Lewis Collins from The Professionals on it and wondering why Martin Shaw hadn't made it to the studio! * Was there some beef we didn't know about? Shaw had recorded a video, which was played into the studio, but he was only in Devon, which was a mere two and half hours on the train.

As I sat there, waiting to be called, I wondered who on earth they were going to bring on for mine. I didn't know any celebrities - the most famous person I knew was Burt Kwouk, and I'd seen him just twenty minutes earlier.

* I never liked the ones where it wasn't celebrities, but people of high standing like Douglas Bader or a sporting icon.

Then Mrs H turned up and boy, was I glad to see her - it turned out it had been a very stressful couple of months. Initially, she'd been in two minds whether to agree to it, but claims she remembered me saying early on in our relationship that 'If This Is Your Life call, make sure you say yes.'

I don't remember saying that - but it does sound like just the sort of cocky thing I might have said back then. Having said yes, she'd also had to struggle to keep the thing a secret from me - she reminded me that at one point I'd become so suspicious of the various phone calls she'd been making that I'd asked her if she was having an affair.

After an hour or so, I took my place next to her on the familiar set of TIYL and Aspel started to work his monotone magic.

First through the doors was my old school friend and co-founder of Staplehurst Chemical Industries Adam Starkey. Then one by one they all trooped through - Matt, Rob from The Hall Brothers, my mum and dad and other family members - even my old biology teacher. One by one they each stepped up to deliver their pithy anecdotes.

The weird thing was that whilst I recognised the stories, there was something odd about the way they told them. They didn't sound like themselves at all. Mrs H explained later that a researcher had interviewed each of the guests on the phone and then written up their version of the anecdote, which they delivered back to them in script form for them to learn. That way the production knew what they were getting. Hence the android effect. Celebrity-wise Keith Harris was there with Orville who'd both been guests on the show - it turned out that when Matt had sat down, he'd noticed a high cushion and because of his short stature he sat on it so he could get a better view of the proceedings, until a runner from the production moved him on explaining that the cushion was 'for Orville'.

Wendy Craig made an appearance by video link - a bit of a stretch as I'd never met Wendy, but my sister and I had a long-running joke about her which involved us sticking photos of Wendy Craig in various odd places in each other's room for a reason that now escapes me. The then BBC royal correspondent Jennie Bond turned up - a lovely lady, but I'd never met her either - I'd merely made a few jokes about how I fancied her because she was 'more attractive than Virginia Wade and more accessible than Valerie Singleton'.

Burt was there, of course, and Stew who had been told they were cutting his anecdote the day before via an answering machine message.

The big surprise at the end was Ronnie Corbett - which, whilst it was nice to see him, only really served to remind the audience at home of what a proper star looked like and how far This Is Your Life had gone downhill.

I had a real laugh during the taping; I was on good form, wisecracking and gently undermining the whole thing and enjoying watching my friends squirm in front of the cameras. When it was aired, all my stuff was cut out and it looked like I hardly said a word. My friends sounded like robots and I looked like a stuffed dummy.

There was a big buffet afterwards - which was probably the best bit of the night. The producer told Mrs H that she'd done quite well because 'Harry looked at you three times and held your hand once.'

I thanked Michael Aspel, and he told me that on the night he'd sprung it on Bernie Winters, Schnorbitz - the fourteen stone St Bernard bitch he replaced his brother Mike with - had broken free of her lead and got to the buffet first, bolting down two thirds of it before any of the VIPs could get near and coating the remaining third with dog saliva. [Bigredbook.info editor: Mike and Bernie Winters were surprised by Eamonn Andrews in December 1970]

If you're on that show, you do get to keep the big red book - not immediately - because it's full of photos and screen grabs from the night itself. I used to think it contained a detailed history of the person being 'done' but there's no text whatsoever, just the screen grabs. So you had to wait a while for them to print them off. In my case, I didn't get the book until over a year later and only after several requests from The Agent to the production company asking where it was.

Series 40 subjects

Roger Black | Hewitt Clark | Martin Kemp | Denise Welch | Rudolph Walker | Martin Jarvis | Stuart Hall | Rita Tushingham
Len Vale-Onslow | Dale Winton | Ian Wright | Marguerite Patten | Eddie Jordan | Dave Lee Travis | Harry Hill
David Vine | John Craven | Richard Dunwoody | Tom Baker | Laurie Holloway | Kay Mellor | Mark Wingett
Christopher Timothy | Suggs | Jason Leonard | Desmond Wilcox | Roger Kendall | Daniel O'Donnell