Kenny BALL (1930-2013)

This Is Your Life Big Red Book

programme details...

  • Edition No: 298
  • Subject No: 300
  • Broadcast date: Wed 3 Mar 1971
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 10 Feb 1971
  • Venue: unknown
  • Series: 11
  • Edition: 16

on the guest list...

  • Betty - wife
  • father
  • Ted - brother
  • Joe Brown
  • Lonnie Donegan - live link
  • Please note: this is an incomplete list

production team...

  • Researcher: unknown
  • Writer: unknown
  • Director: Margery Baker
  • Producer: Robert Tyrell
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

All that Jazz

covering all the notes

The Night of 1000 Lives

a celebration of a thousand editions

Life Is Full Of Surprises

Producer Robert Tyrrell reveals some 'cloak and dagger' tactics

Joe Brown

This Is Your Life Big Red Book
Kenny Ball's autobiography

Kenny Ball recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Musical Skylarks, A Medley of Memories...

In 1971 Eamonn Andrews caught me on This Is Your Life. Unbeknown to me, for weeks there'd been TV people in touch with my wife Betty and all the band, gathering information for the show. On the day in question we were returning to London on the train from Glasgow. At the time I thought, this is very nice. The stationmaster in Glasgow had seen us onto the train in person, which made me feel very important. Anyhow, as far as I knew I had a gig at the Dorchester Hotel in London. It was put to me that this would be a private function, and I was prepared for that. Even so, I was a bit worried: it looked as if we were going to get there only just in time. On the train, every time I looked for the guys in the band I'd find them propping up the bar and looking a little shifty. This seemed a bit odd, so I said, "Look here, chaps, I'm all for having a drink or two, but we've got a very important charity function at the Dorchester tonight."

Anyway, we arrived at Euston's platform five and I got off the train. I could see floodlights and TV cameras up at the front end, but didn't think anything of it. While on the train I remembered spotting the Post Office Union chap, Tom Jackson - the one with the huge handlebar moustache - and as there was an ongoing postal strike at this time I thought all the ballyhoo was for him.

So I started to walk past the cameras, but they followed me round. I was a bit embarrassed, trying to hide a magazine I was carrying that had rude things in it - Playboy, I think. Suddenly a bloke wearing a railway inspector's peaked cap appeared in front of me - and it was Eamonn Andrews. I did the OMG bit! And then it all fell into place. It was me they were after, not Tom Jackson. And I was going to be on This Is Your Life!

Unfortunately, this was in the days before video recorders were all the rage, so I don't have it on film - but I do have the red book! I also have an LP recording of the show. All my family were there: my dad, my brothers and sisters. Eamonn introduced Dad as an "83-year-old former all-in wrestler and piccolo player," and asked him how that "rare combination" came about. Dad replied, "Simply because we lived in a district where sometimes it was very necessary to combine the two." It sounded very dignified and everyone laughed. Joe Brown turned up, and Lonnie Donegan was there on a live link from Manchester - which was very technically modern for that period. At that time we were still doing the Eric and Ernie shows, but this was ITV and Eric and Ernie were on the BBC. I think ITV did try to get them on the show, but I don't think the BBC would allow it. One of the high spots was my brother Ted telling how he used to come home in the evening when I was courting my first wife Betty. He'd say, "What's it to be tonight, Ken? Trumpet or crumpet?" That really brought the house down. Unfortunately, all my brothers and sisters that were on that show have since died, and I'm now the last one left of the original nine.

After the show there was a party at the Marquee - a Soho jazz club of which I was part founder.

Kenny Ball's autobiography

Kenny Ball recalls a similar experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Blowing My Own Trumpet...

It was in 1971 that I was awarded one of the ultimate accolades of show business: an appearance on This Is Your Life. And no one was more surprised than I to be nailed by a grinning Eamonn Andrews, dressed as a porter on the platform at King's Cross as I got off the InterCity from Glasgow. I was walking down the platform towards the exit, and the embarrassing thing was that I had a copy of a glossy men's magazine under my arm for all the world to see!

Eamonn came bustling up to me, keeping his face hidden under a peaked cap, then grabbed my suitcase, and before I could protest said, 'Good evening, Kenny Ball. This is your life!' It was a brilliant ambush, and caught me completely by surprise. At the studio I found not only celebrities like Joe Brown and Lonnie Donegan walking through the doors, but most of my family, too, even my old dad. All the Jazzmen were there, and they played 'When the Saints Go Marching In' with the whole audience clapping and stamping. My only regret is that I can't find a recording of the programme. If there ever were any, they've all gone.

Series 11 subjects

Bob Hope | Vidal Sassoon | Talbot Rothwell | Mike and Bernie Winters | Joe Brown | Patrick Campbell | Bobby Moore
Robert Soutter | Graham Hill | Sandy Powell | Edward Woodward | Moira Lister | Dickie Henderson | Wilfred Pickles
Kenny Ball | Marjorie Proops | Basil D'Oliveira | Clive Dunn | Peter Noone | Monica Dickens | Jon Pertwee
Lionel Jeffries | Adam Faith | Googie Withers | Matt Busby