Lionel BLAIR (1928-2021)

This Is Your Life Big Red Book

programme details...

  • Edition No: 377
  • Subject No: 378
  • Broadcast date: Wed 6 Mar 1974
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 27 Feb 1974
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 14
  • Edition: 17

on the guest list...

  • Susan - wife
  • Joyce - sister
  • Bertie Green
  • Joan Collins
  • Yolande Donlan
  • Please note: this is an incomplete list

production team...

  • Researcher: unknown
  • Writer: unknown
  • Director: Peter Webb
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

A Dancer's Life

from ballet to ballroom

The Night of 1000 Lives

a celebration of a thousand editions

This Is Your Life Big Red Book
Lionel Blair autobiography

Lionel Blair recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Stage-struck...

As soon as the Christmas season was over, I had a slight lull, and went back to something I'd always enjoyed, straight acting. I was forever asking Peter Charlesworth if he could get me some, and finally, though he was against my doing it permanently, he got me a short booking in January 1974 in Francis Durbridge's Suddenly At Home. Joyce, who had never really left the live theatre, was with me, and we played in Darlington. As usual with provincial productions we provided our own clothes, and Joyce and I were determined to make it a really smart show – it ended up looking like a West End production. I also grew a moustache for the part. It made me look a bit like the actor Jason King, and I quite liked the effect. With us in that play was Liz Power – I had to murder her every night.

'Oh, you television people,' she said to me, 'I've got two weeks with you, then I'm off to Eastbourne to do Private Lives with Michael Aspel.' Little did she know that she was going to fall for one of those terrible television people – and become Liz Aspel.

It was all good fun for far too short a time. I had the usual television work and A F D fashion shows to get back to, and a cabaret booking in Hull. I decided to keep the moustache for the time being, and see whether it got a good reception from the club audience. Before we left the girls thought we needed a rehearsal, so I booked a rehearsal room, and when I got up that morning Susan asked me what I was going to wear. She never normally asks, but I told her. 'Oh yes,' she said, 'you look nice in that polo-shirt and that jacket.' I didn't know it, but she knew I was going to be grabbed for This Is Your Life that afternoon.

After the rehearsal none of the dancers would have a drink with me – they all made sketchy excuses and rushed off, leaving me with some time to kill before an appointment I had with Peter Charlesworth. We were going to discuss the chances of a pop group called Splinter which a couple of my ex-dancers were setting up, and we were going to go and hear them audition at Thames Television. I arrived very early at Peter Charlesworth's office, and found him cleaning his shoes 'What are you doing here?' he asked crossly.

'I'm just early,' I said, but he sent me away, and I wandered out and looked at a shop or two. I bumped into a friend who suggested I go with him to Bournemouth to see an act, and I nearly went with him, only I thought I had better not let Splinter down, as I'd promised to support them.

So I wandered back to Peter, and we drove off to Euston. We were in my car, and he told me to go into the car park. 'It's hardly worth it,' I protested, 'we're only going to be a few minutes.'

'You may as well,' he said. 'Do you know where to go?'

'Oh yes,' I said, 'I've been to enough This Is Your Lifes in my time to know where to go.'

Peter had a kind of apoplectic fit. Well, I thought, everyone is behaving very weirdly today.

Quite by chance we met Philip Jones, head of light entertainment, in the car park, and he accompanied us to the studio where Splinter was playing. 'How is the group?' I asked him.

'Fine, fine,' he said cheerfully. 'In fact, we're auditioning them on camera.'

'Oh. That's lovely,' I said.

When we got to the studio door I could hear them playing away, and Philip said I could go in. I gently opened the door, and the first thing I saw was an audience. I thought, they're doing a warm-up before somebody's show. But as soon as Splinter saw me they stopped singing. I made agitated signals to them to carry on, and was about to speak out again when I was given an almighty push from behind. Splinter waved me to come over, and the audience began applauding. I gave them a polite little smile, thanks for recognising me, and told the group to carry on with their song. Tony Kemp, one of the boys who had danced with me previously, then said, 'Turn round, Lionel.'

So I did. And there was Eamonn.

'Lionel Blair!' he said. 'You thought you were coming to sit in on an audition but this is your life!'

All I could say was, 'I don't believe it, I just don't believe it!' Despite the crazy behaviour from everybody during the day I simply hadn't guessed it.

Eamonn Andrews had got together a lot of wonderful people, Bertie Green from Joyce's and my earliest club booking, Joan Collins, Yolande Donlan, and a host of others. It turned into a tremendous party, but Eamonn said he'd had a terrible shock when I first faced him. 'I thought there'd been the most terrible mistake,' he told me. 'I simply didn't recognise you in that moustache!'

Series 14 subjects

Jim Dale | Vic Feather | Hayley Mills | Pete Murray | George Sewell | David Nixon | Robert Dougall | Deryck Guyler
Derek Dougan | William Coles | Jimmy Jewel | John Alderton | Patrick Moore | Sam Kydd | John Dankworth
Gordon Ostlere (Richard Gordon) | Lionel Blair | Sheila Scott | Roy Dotrice | Barry Briggs | Christopher Lee
Beryl Grey | Terry Biddlecombe | Don Revie | Robert Morley | David Hemery | Eamonn Andrews