Louie RAMSAY (1929-2011)

Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life
  • The first edition to be broadcast from Scotland - and the first to interrupt a live performance

programme details...

  • Edition No: 52
  • Subject No: 52
  • Broadcast live: Mon 27 Jan 1958
  • Broadcast time: 8.15-8.45pm
  • Venue: King's Theatre, Edinburgh
  • Series: 3
  • Edition: 18

on the guest list...

  • Iris Piper
  • Christopher Wall
  • Joan McDougall
  • Pat Hitchcock
  • Beryl Gray
  • Geoffrey Espinosa
  • Sheila Gransbury
  • Hattie Jacques
  • Ronan O'Casey - husband
  • Sid Colin
  • Jimmy Logan
  • Freddie Carpenter
  • Filmed tribute:
  • Wilfred Pickles

production team...

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

A Dancer's Life

from ballet to ballroom

Family Life

keeping it in the family


the show's fifty year history

This Is Your Life by Eamonn Andrews

Weekend Magazine reports from behind-the-scenes

'This Is Your Life' But It Dominates MINE!

Producer Leslie Jackson recalls some heart-stopping moments

George Baker

Hattie Jacques

Jimmy Logan

Wilfred Pickles

Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Photographs of Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Jimmy Logan's autobiography

Jimmy Logan recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, It's a Funny Life...

There are few greater accolades on British television than being presented with that Big Red Book, and hearing those immortal words: "This is your life." It was a sign that someone had made a decent enough contribution to the public good – in whatever way – to merit some sort of tribute in front of the watching millions.

When Eamonn Andrews presented the programme, This Is Your Life really was a national institution. It's no exaggeration to state that many people particularly looked forward to his appearance on screen each week, and loved the mandatory few moments trying to anticipate on whom he was about to pounce.

The first time I was associated with the show many people thought I would be on the receiving end. It was in the days This Is Your Life was broadcast live, and Eamonn Andrews opened proceedings standing outside the King's Theatre in Edinburgh. Inside I was bringing the first half of the pantomime to a conclusion – timing it exactly for Eamonn's grand entrance in front of a startled audience and cast.

His target on this occasion was our principal girl, Louie Ramsay, a lovely girl from Stonehaven who suddenly became completely paralysed one night after a performance in a theatre in London. For months she was confined to bed unable to move, but slowly made a brave and full recovery.

When she came to do the pantomime I knew nothing about this, and I noticed her crying after rehearsing one scene where she had to be "flown" across stage.

"What the hell's up with you?" I said.

She replied: "Oh, I'm just in a bit of pain."

"Away, don't be daft. You'll get over that."

I only found out her situation when the This Is Your Life team told me they wanted to do Louie for one of their shows. The day of the surprise show I took Louie and her husband for a meal in Cramond, and a long walk along the banks of the Forth.

She told me one of her closest friends was Pat Hitchcock, the daughter of the famous film director Alfred.

"God knows if I'll ever see her again," Louie said. "She lives in California."

Of course I knew Pat was in Edinburgh, as was the television crew setting everything up for the live show from the theatre that night. I told the cast that the cameras were there to film the performance for prosperity – to get a fine example of pantomime on screen.

But during the first half I could sense that Louie thought something was up. The television people were giving me timings, so every time I was on stage I was adding or cutting bits to make sure we finished at exactly the right moment. As the comic, I was able to do that.

And Louie would be staring at me as if to say: "What on earth are you doing? Get off."

When the first half finally came to an end the curtain failed to come down, and Eamonn Andrews stepped out from the back of the stage. The moment the audience spotted him they went absolutely daft.

"You've been on television for the past few minutes," Eamonn said to the cast. "Well, tonight, one of the leads of this great pantomime is going to be the subject of this red book."

And, of course, everyone thought it was going to be me. But as the rest of the cast formed into a half circle, Eamonn approached a somewhat shocked principal girl, and announced: "Louie Ramsay – this is your life."

The show went out there and then, and the audience lapped up every minute of it. We were all drained when we came off – and then remembered we still had the second half of the pantomime to do.

Daily Herald article: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Daily Herald 28 January 1958



by Philip Phillips

NEW ground was trodden by This Is Your Life last night.

A theatre performance was held up for the programme. Compere Eamonn Andrews suddenly appeared on the stage of the King's Theatre, Edinburgh and stopped the pantomime "Babes in the Wood".

The company broke off, astonished as he led one of the dancers to the front of the stage and said: This Is Your Life.

It was 26-year-old Louie Ramsay, a girl who two years ago was suddenly stricken by a terrible and mysterious illness which crippled and blinded her. It seemed her career and her life were to end.

But she fought back and recovered with the help of devoted hospital workers.

They trooped on to the stage last night and she thanked them.

Newspaper article - unknown source: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Unknown source 28 January 1958


STAGE star Louie Ramsay, played the biggest role of her career last night – without a rehearsal.

She was just finishing her first-half principal girl part in "Babes in the Wood" at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh...

...when TV personality Eamonn Andrews bounced on to the stage and stopped the show.

Then he announced to the startled audience: "For the past few minutes this show has been televised."

Friends and relatives poured on to the stage as the first This Is Your Life programme to be screened from Scotland began.

The audience heard how Louie, 26, was crippled by a paralysing illness which made her almost blind.

For six months she lay in a plaster cast. Then slowly, with the help of a wheelchair, she fought her way back to health - and the stage.

Then as the lights dimmed and the pictures faded, Louie dashed off stage – to change for the next act!

Scottish Daily Mail article: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Scottish Daily Mail 28 January 1958


Star of the show... and no rehearsal


TELEVISION star Eamonn Andrews spent the whole day yesterday shut up in Room 360 of the Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh.

At the same time Ronan O'Casey, Canadian actor husband of Louie Ramsay, principal girl of the King's Theatre pantomime, "Babes in the Wood," took his wife motoring in the country.

The result was the biggest surprise success for the TV show This Is Your Life... and its biggest production triumph since the series started.

Until a second before he announced the show from the stage of the King's Theatre, Louie Ramsay, the showgirl who fought her way back to stage success after being stricken by a paralysing virus disease, didn't know that hers was the life in question.


Indeed, nobody except those taking part, plus four essential officials, even knew they were on the programme. The entire cast and staff of the theatre – and the audience – were effectively hoodwinked.

It was only made possible by keeping Eamonn Andrews out of sight and removing any danger of Louie Ramsay running into any of her relatives and friends in the Edinburgh streets.

Jimmy Logan, the star of the pantomime, was let into the secret only yesterday morning. And last night the management of the theatre explained away the TV cameras and cables to the audience and cast by saying that a telerecording for a show dealing with pantomime was being taken. They swallowed it whole.

Only when the curtain was about to come down for the first interval, and Eamonn Andrews dashed on from the wings, was the secret out.

Louie Ramsay was almost overcome with surprise. She had not noticed her family in one of the boxes. Her father and mother had come from London and her brother took a day off from studies at Aberdeen University to be there. Eamonn took her through her whole life from the time of her first dancing lesson, right through the illness which it was thought would end her career, and the audience loved every minute of it.

Louie was even confronted with her great friend of RADA days Pat Hitchcock, daughter of Alfred Hitchcock, Hollywood producer, who had been specially flown from California.

Afterwards Ken Smith, the script-writer, and Leslie Jackson, the producer, told me it was the most successful show they had produced. I can well believe it.


For Leslie Jackson it was a great achievement. It was the first This Is Your Life which wasn't studio produced with a carefully rehearsed "cast" and the first one ever done in a theatre during a show.

And last night, after the rest of the people out of her life had gone back down to London, Louie Ramsay and her friend Pat Hitchcock sat up swopping yarns from their student days. Pat has decided to stay on for a few days in Edinburgh.

Photo – Long into the night Louie Ramsay and her friend from student days, Pat Hitchcock, daughter of Hollywood producer Alfred Hitchcock, who was flown from California for This Is Your Life, talked of past good times. Here the two are seen with Eamonn Andrews after Louie had had the biggest surprise of her life.

Scottish Daily Express article: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

Scottish Daily Express 28 January 1958

What a surprise for Louie

LOUIE RAMSAY, 26-year-old principal girl in "Babes in the Wood" at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh had one of the biggest and happiest surprises of her remarkable life last night. She was the subject of Eamonn Andrews' TV show This Is Your Life.

The show was televised from the theatre – and when Eamonn announced it at 8.15 it ended a week-end of wild speculation.

It started when TV equipment was installed. Last night's audience found three TV cameras in the auditorium – but they were told: "It's a tele-recording."

And to make sure Louie knew nothing, her Canadian actor husband, Ronan O'Casey, took her out yesterday for the day.

In plaster

Louie, the South-African-born daughter of a London doctor, was told less then two years ago she would never walk again. That was only a few weeks after her wedding.

Legs and arms paralysed, eyesight dimmed by some unidentified virus, she lay in hospital for 18 months encased in plaster. But she fought back – from plaster to wheelchair, wheelchair to sticks, till at last she threw the sticks away.

"Babes in the Wood" is only the second she has tackled since her illness. At the beginning of the run she still suffered from stiffness. Now – as viewers saw last night – she is as gay and agile as if it never happened.

At first overcome by emotion, then happily oblivious of cameras or audience, Louie greeted one after another of the people who were part of her story of tragedy and triumph.

Friends from the hospital staff – her first dancing teacher - Pat Hitchcock, daughter of film director Alfred Hitchcock, who had flown from California to remind her of student days together at RADA. Hattie Jacques, who had produced one of her early shows – Sid Colin, the writer who threw her back-from-hospital party – Jimmy Logan and producer Freddie Carpenter of "Babes in the Wood", her own parents and family in a theatre box ... and, of course, her husband.

"You knew," she cried to him. "You knew all the time."

Same show...

Louie spent her childhood in Edinburgh. She saw her first pantomime there – its title: "Babes in the Wood." The theatre: The King's.

"I still remember it," she said. "I sat in the front row of the grand circle."

This is the first time the This Is Your Life show has been done in Scotland. And it is the first time ever that it has been done during a "live" stage show.

"It was one of the biggest surprises we have ever attempted." Said Eamonn Andrews afterwards.


The story behind the programme – the one that televiewers were not told – was revealed after the show in Edinburgh's Doric restaurant. Louie Ramsay learned that the man who was in the same hospital two years ago with a spinal infection, had written the This Is Your Life show.

He was scriptwriter Ken Smith and they met again in the restaurant.

Said Louie: "If I had known Ken Smith had written the show I would have insisted that he should appear with me in front of the cameras."

Louie left hospital before Ken. "That was the last I heard of her until 10 days ago," he said. "A show we were scheduled to do at Paisley had been cancelled and I was searching for another Scottish idea when someone told me Louie was dancing again. It was a remarkable coincidence."

The Scotsman article: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

The Scotsman 29 January 1958



'This Is Your Life'

Pantomime was rather thrust into the background at the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, on Monday evening, when BBC Television's This Is Your Life programme was transmitted "live" from the stage.

The television programme featured one of the stars of the show, Louie Ramsay. At the end of the first half of the pantomime "Babes In The Wood" cast and audience alike were surprised when Eamonn Andrews strode on to the stage, stopped the show, and announced that BBC Television was taking over.

Miss Ramsay, who some years ago was thought to be completely paralysed, was then reintroduced to many of the people who had helped her to come back as a professional dancer. Apart from the BBC staff and their special guests, only four people in the theatre knew beforehand that the programme was going to take place.

Before and after the television intrusion the pantomime carried on its merry way. Perhaps it is more of a fast moving review than a traditional pantomime, but it is nonetheless excellent entertainment.

The Stage article: Louie Ramsay This Is Your Life

The Stage 30 January 1958


AN event of unusual interest took place on the stage of the King's Theatre, Edinburgh, on Monday night during the performance of the Howard and Wyndham pantomime "Babes in the Wood."

The delightful principal girl, Louie Ramsay, was the subject of This Is Your Life, and it was a great surprise to the cast, the theatre staff and the audience when Eamonn Andrews appeared at the end of the first half of the pantomime to announce the TV programme.

Louie Ramsay, after she got over the first moment of surprise, was so happy and spirited. It is hard to realise that this vivacious young artist was told two years ago (soon after her marriage to Canadian actor, Ronan O'Casey), that she would never walk again.

After being encased in a plastic cast for 18 months, she bravely struggled from plaster to wheelchair, wheelchair to crutches, crutches to sticks, until she threw away the sticks.

Praise is due to the producer, technicians and all concerned with Monday night's programme which proved a great success. The appearance of Pat Hitchcock who had flown from California to remind Louie of their student days together; Hattie Jacques, who directed "Twenty Minutes South" in which Louie appeared; Freddie Carpenter, director and Jimmy Logan, principal comedian of "Babes in the Wood" at the King's, all paid tribute to a brave remarkable girl.

Series 3 subjects

Albert Whelan | Colin Hodgkinson | Vera Lynn | Arthur Christiansen | John Logie Baird | Richard Carr-Gomm | Jack Train
Edith Powell | Anne Brusselmans | Norman Wisdom | Victor Silvester | Jack Petersen | Lucy Jane Dobson
David Bell | Matt Busby | Minnie Barnard | Gordon Steele | Louie Ramsay | Tubby Clayton | Daniel Angel
Anna Neagle | 'Dapper' Channon | Frederick Stone | Paul Field | Noel Purcell | Barbara Cartland
Harry Secombe | Archie Rowe | Humphrey Lyttelton | Francis Cammaerts | A E Matthews