Jimmy EDWARDS (1920-1988)

Jimmy Edwards This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 67
  • Subject No: 67
  • Broadcast date: Mon 6 Oct 1958
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.05pm
  • Recorded: Mon 22 Sep 1958 5.00pm
  • Venue: BBC Piccadilly Studios
  • Series: 4
  • Edition: 2

on the guest list...

  • Harry Secombe
  • Billy Walsh
  • Charles Groves
  • Alan - brother
  • Roy Huckridge
  • George Groom
  • Christopher Day
  • Max Homan
  • Sir Robert Ricketts
  • Sigvart Godeseth
  • Albert Clamp
  • Charles Maxwell
  • Frank Muir
  • Denis Norden
  • Dick Bentley
  • June Whitfield
  • Roland - brother
  • John - brother
  • Patricia - sister
  • Margaret - sister
  • Elizabeth - sister
  • Hugh - brother
  • Billy Randall
  • Johannes van Berlo
  • Jos Verbeeck
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Joy Nichols

production team...

  • Researchers: Nigel Ward, Michael Williams
  • Writers: Nigel Ward, Michael Williams
  • Director: unknown
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...
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Photographs of Jimmy Edwards This Is Your Life

Gus Smith biography of Eamonn Andrews

Gus Smith recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, Eamonn Andrews His Life...

When Eamonn was asked for his definition of the ideal Life subject, he said thoughtfully, 'The basic requirement is a good story, a varied story, and if you can add to that a pleasant, bubbling personality then you have something else going.'

He could not have looked for a more bubbling subject than comedian Jimmy Edwards. Regarded as a larger-than-life individual, and a healthy mocker of false emotions, he posed an undoubted challenge to Eamonn. Would the presenter try to match his ebullience? Or would he be content to stick to his script and let the irrepressible Edwards poke his wicked fun without provoking him?

The comedian had been born in Barnes in 1920 and served as a pilot in the war with the RAF and was awarded the DGFC. It was a gamble whether he would become a school teacher or go on the stage. Deciding on the stage, in 1946 he made his debut at London's Windmill Theatre, the famous training ground for most of the country's comics. However, it was in the radio series Take It From Here that he eventually made his name. Eamonn made no secret of the fact that he was a fan of the programme.

It was now 1958. Jimmy Edwards was being described as 'a gruff bachelor, whose prowess on the hunting, shooting and polo fields were as well known as the shape of his moustache.' When not working, he liked to retire to his 400-acre farm in Sussex and keep an eye on the dairy herd and horses.

The fun began as Eamonn led the comic, protesting loudly, to the stage of the Shepherd's Bush Theatre [Bigredbook.info editor: The actual venue was the BBC's Piccadilly Studios]. As his friends in the business were paraded before him, Edwards ran his fingers lightly through his moustache and poked fun at all and sundry. Eamonn kept resolutely to his prepared script and refused to be drawn into verbal combat. It seemed the only course he could take, otherwise his words would be lost in the welter of audience laughter.

Meanwhile, the real drama was taking place behind the scenes.

The Life team had been experiencing considerable trouble in locating Jimmy Edwards' sister in Australia, but eventually contacted her. When they explained to her the reason for the call, she said enthusiastically, 'I'd love to be a guest in the show. I know Jimmy would love it also. But how do I get over at such short notice?'

'We'll fly you over.' The Life researcher told her. It meant some hectic, last-minute flight arrangements, and when she eventually arrived it was only hours before the show, or just enough time for flowers to be delivered to her hotel room in Lancaster Gate. When Eamonn introduced her at the climax of the show there was spontaneous applause from the audience. Even Jimmy, a compulsive talker, was almost lost for words.

At the outset, he said he had anticipated a programme of such sentimental impact that there wouldn't be a dry eye between Land's End and Val Parnell. He was wrong. As one critic observed, 'There were no dry eyes last night. They were wet with laughter.' And he added, 'Edwards made wicked fun of Andrews. Andrews, playing himself, saw his programme ripped to shreds.' Leslie Jackson disagreed. He felt that Eamonn, as presenter of the show, coped admirably with the comedian's non-stop wise-cracking. 'It was a fun programme and Eamonn helped to make it so by refusing to take on Jimmy.'

Off-stage, Eamonn and Jimmy were friends. Eamonn, a radio man to his finger tips, admired the comedian's technique and how he disguised it so cleverly behind his large moustache. To radio listeners he came across, as one critic put it, 'with the subtlety of a battering ram, flattening resistance and sweeping the audience on wave after wave of hilarity,' but to Eamonn, Jimmy knew how to make an audience laugh and sound extremely funny on radio.

Series 4 subjects

Jo Capka | Jimmy Edwards | Andrew Milbourne | Bella Burge | Tommy Steele | Ronald Shiner | James Edward Wood
Margaret Rowena Jones | John Griffiths | Freddy Bloom | Bransby Williams | Miriam Moses | Elsie Mullock | John Vidler
Florence Desmond | Noel Duckworth | Alfred Daniel Wintle | Ted Heath | Andrew Macdonald | Harriet Cohen
Willie Hall | Reginald Blanchford | Kenneth More | Hugh Llewelyn Glyn Hughes | Miriam Jowett | Ted Willis
Alfred Southon | Tiger Sarll | Mary Ward | Roy Gill | Stirling Moss | Ethel Goldsack | Tommy Trinder