John GRIFFITHS (1886-1966)

John Griffiths This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 74
  • Subject No: 74
  • Broadcast live: Mon 24 Nov 1958
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.05pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Studio Cardiff
  • Series: 4
  • Edition: 9

on the guest list...

  • Frank Griffiths
  • Dai - brother
  • Gwilym Howells
  • Gwilym Thomas
  • Betty Rees - daughter
  • Geraint - son
  • David Thomas
  • Robert Richards
  • Dorena Thomas
  • Ann Samuel
  • Jennie Thomas
  • Sydney Charles
  • Filmed tribute:
  • James Griffiths MP

production team...

  • Researchers: Ken Smith, Liam Nolan
  • Writers: Ken Smith, Liam Nolan
  • Director: Vere Lorrimer
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
related pages...

Jack of all Trades

from domestic cleaner to teacher

This Is Your Life

Radio Times editorial

John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life John Griffiths This Is Your Life

Photographs of John Griffiths This Is Your Life

Llanelli Star article: John Griffiths This Is Your Life

Llanelli Star 23 February 2011

MEMORY LANE STAR: Llanelli down the decades

Television surprise for tinplate worker

THE Glanymor and Tyisha History Group was formed in February 2004 to preserve the area's history.

Here they kindly share another extract from their A People's History series.

Town kept 'TV life' secret from well-liked Alderman, by John Williams, is taken from the third book in the popular seven-book series.

On a night in November 1958, Alderman John Griffiths was not in the council chamber at Llanelli Town Hall.

He was in a TV studio in Cardiff, having been invited by the BBC to take part in a programme they said they were preparing about early tinplate-making techniques.

As he sat in a studio watching grainy footage of tinplate workers from long ago, there was a tap on his shoulder. He turned and was astonished to see the famous TV presenter, Eamonn Andrews, clutching a book with an equally famous title, This Is Your Life.

The secret was so well-kept that the 72-year-old ex-tinplater had no idea his invitation to Cardiff was just a ruse to get him on what was, at the time, one of the most popular programmes on television. As he told a newspaper afterwards, "It was really staggering. I can't make out how people kept it a secret from me."

The BBC was fascinated by how his story spanned generations in one industry. He was born in Machynys in 1886, one of nine children and entered tin-plating at just 14.

He stayed through thick and thin for 53 years, became an alderman (a civic title now abolished) and mayor of Llanelli. When he entered the industry, Queen Victoria was still on the throne. The year he retired, 1953, saw the coronation of Victoria's great-granddaughter, Elizabeth. It was a remarkable evening as Eamonn Andrews took viewers down memory lane.

His daughter, Beti Rees, twice mayoress of Llandovery, and son Geraint Griffiths, of Birmingham – along with colleagues from the council and a fellow deacon from Capel Triniti, David Thomas – were brought on stage in succession to talk about this tall, imposing man and the impact he had made on them and on the town. Jenny Thomas told of how they sang together in charity concerts.

From their accounts, Mr Griffiths was warm and humorous. An opposition councillor, Robert Richards, praised his lack of rancour and his ability to "pour oil on troubled waters" in the council.

Back home in Llanelli, meanwhile, Mr Griffiths' wife, Gertrude, had to watch the programme from their home in Westbury Street. She had had a spell in hospital and was not fit enough to travel. Even she did not know about the programme until two hours before the broadcast and even then didn't really believe it until she saw her husband sitting in the This Is Your Life studio. She was quoted as saying, "It was a wonderful surprise. I've never seen my husband so tongue-tied but he will probably have plenty to say when he gets home."

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