John MCARDLE (1949-)

John McArdle This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1110
  • Subject No: 1086
  • Broadcast date: Thu 30 Jan 2003
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Mon 2 Dec 2002 10.30pm
  • Venue: Granada Studios, Manchester
  • Series: 43
  • Edition: 5

on the guest list...

  • Edie - mother
  • Sharon - sister
  • Colleen - sister
  • Trisha - sister
  • Rory - brother
  • Terry - brother
  • Kathy Jamieson - wife
  • Justin - son
  • Katie - daughter
  • Joseph - son
  • Chris Walker
  • Joanna Taylor
  • Josie D'Arby
  • David Hargreaves
  • Eileen O'Brien
  • Paul Bown
  • Julia Haworth
  • Bernard Merrick
  • Bridget Fry
  • Sean Arnold
  • Simon Merrells
  • Haydn Gwynne
  • Leslie Ash
  • Tony Booth
  • Laurence Yates
  • Kate Williams
  • Seamus O'Neill
  • Michael Starke
  • Dean Sullivan
  • Noreen Kershaw
  • Jason Hope
  • Kay Mellor
  • Phil Atkinson
  • Helen Harris
  • Ian Harris
  • Sue Johnston
  • Martin Banks

production team...

  • Researchers: Kate Greer, Deborah Cowan
  • Writer: Ian Brown
  • 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...

John McArdle recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in May 2012

John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life John McArdle This Is Your Life

Screenshots of John McArdle This Is Your Life

John McArdle's autobiography

John McArdle recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his book, You Never Said Goodbye, reproduced here with kind permission of the author...

Something was about to happen that I'd dreamt about and imagined many times but never thought would happen. The year was 2002. I got home from work at 'Merseybeat' after a very busy week. It was Friday night and I was looking forward to having a few drinks and relaxing with my family.

At about 8pm, I got a phone call from our production manager to say that I had to come into work on Sunday as the episode was running short. We needed a two-minute scene and I had to lead the scene. They said they were sorry but it had to be done. They emailed me the scene, which was set in the control room of the police station, with nearly every member of the cast involved, so I wasn't the only one who had to come in on their day off. I had the most of the dialogue in the scene so I would have to stay in and learn it.

I got to work on Sunday at around 11am so it wasn't too early a start. As I said, the scene was set in the control room and the whole cast was in it, so it was going to be a long shoot. I felt good because I was on top of the scene and it was going very well apart from a couple of cast members forgetting their lines. We shot this scene from so many angles; I thought the director was really milking it. After about the eleventh take I was getting a bit cheesed off.

Chris Walker was forgetting his lines all the time, and I said, "Come on Chris, I want to go home."

We were in the middle of the twelfth take and it was going well, but there seemed to be some noise coming from behind me. I decided to ignore this: if the director cuts then I will stop. Then Chris dried again and started smiling and looking over my shoulder. I turned to see what he was looking at and to my surprise I saw Michael Aspel carrying a big red book. Wow, I thought, he's come for Lesley Ash. She was standing just in front of me (she had joined the cast after Haydn had left).

But no, he passed her and came to me and said the immortal words: "John McArdle – This is Your Life."

I couldn't believe it! Everyone started clapping and cheering and Michael Aspel told me that I would be whisked away somewhere nice until they were ready to film later on. In fact they had booked me a room at the V&A hotel in Manchester, next to Granada Studios where it was to be filmed. I had a lovely room with lots of food and drink and flowers. No alcohol though; they wanted me sober for the time being. I was being kept at the hotel so I would not see any of the guests arriving. It was a long wait but it was going to be worth it. I was so excited about this event, not nervous at all; I couldn't wait for it to begin. Kathy had got together a couple of shirts and suits for me to wear for the show. Kathy had kept this whole thing a secret for the past three months. She had had to liaise with the researchers and production staff on This is Your Life to plan who would be on the show, and she had to keep this from me all that time. She'd done a wonderful job because I never had a clue this was going to happen. She told me later that there were times that she'd nearly been caught; she would have to ring off many a time when I would walk in on her conversations with the researchers. She thought I might think she was having an affair! I had never suspected a thing.

I had been sitting on my own in this luxurious cell for about four hours waiting for them to start the show. At around 7pm they led me out of the hotel to a dressing room just off the studio we were to film in. The floor manager came to collect me to lead me onto the stage to start This is Your Life. I was standing in the wings waiting for my introduction, excited and feeling great. Michael Aspel made his introduction and I stepped out onto the stage. The studio was packed with friends and relatives and they gave me a fantastic welcome. Michael gave me a short speech about my early life and showed some clips of the work I had done throughout my acting career. The first guest to come through the curtain was Kathy and she looked more beautiful then ever. My love for her grew more. Then my lovely children Justin, Katie and Joseph came on. I was so proud of them, and so would you be, Dad.

On one side of the stage sat my close family and friends. Everywhere I looked I could see familiar faces and friends old and new. My mum was beaming with pride and so were my brothers and sisters. Then my old Brookside friends came on. The individuals that followed were so well chosen by Kathy, each person someone I liked and cared about, especially Sue Johnston, Tony Booth, John Henshaw, my old mate Seamus O'Neill and Kate Williams from Drama School. All great people, actors and good friends. What a privilege and pleasure to be able to share stories about my life not just with my friends and family but with a huge TV audience as well. It felt like wonderful recognition of my work and life.

The biggest surprise of the night was when my old mate Loz Yates turned up all the way from Australia. I hadn't seen him for 29 years and it was so great to see him; we relived our time in Mount Eden Prison. The last guest to come on was my old drama teacher from Northampton College of Further Education, Martin Banks – the man responsible for me becoming a professional actor. This evening was one of the most special moments of my life. I wish you could have been there, Dad.

After the show there was a big party, it was like being at a big wedding. The BBC did a wonderful job, and I thank them for it. After the party in the studio we all went back to the hotel and carried on the party until about 5am. I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

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