Margaret PRICE MBE (1949-)

Margaret Price This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 573
  • Subject No: 569
  • Broadcast date: Wed 15 Apr 1981
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Thu 26 Feb 1981
  • Venue: Royalty Theatre
  • Series: 21
  • Edition: 26
  • Code name: Vote

on the guest list...

  • Frank - husband
  • Alan Pascoe
  • Linsey MacDonald
  • Wendy Norman
  • David Wilkie
  • Rachael Heyhoe Flint
  • Paul Mariner
  • Trevor Brooking
  • Sharron Davies
  • Dick Jeeps
  • Ivy - mother
  • Ted - father
  • Colin - brother
  • Delia - sister-in-law
  • Cliff Morgan
  • Pat Bouker
  • Kwai Moon
  • Alan Lynos-Grey
  • Cliff Last
  • Douglas - nephew
  • Jean - sister
  • James - brother-in-law
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Sebastian Coe
  • Karen Singer
  • Yup Singer
  • Jimmy Savile

production team...

  • Researcher: Vivien Lind
  • Writers: Tom Brennand, Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Stuart Hall, Terry Yarwood
  • Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Going for Gold

celebrating the world's best

This is the secret life

Jack Crawshaw reviews his time on This Is Your Life

Sharron Davies

Jimmy Savile

Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life Margaret Price This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Margaret Price This Is Your Life

Margaret Price's biography

David Hunn recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, Aiming High, The Story of Margaret Price...

Towards the end of February Margaret and Frank went up to stay again at Bromley, to be with the parents before they went on a six-month trip to Australia, where daughter Jean was getting married. The London visit fitted in neatly with an invitation to Margaret from the Sports Council to take part in an informal seminar with some able-bodied sportsmen, where they wanted her to discuss the problems experienced by the disabled when they attended events such as Test matches and First Division football. The Sports Council management said that as parking would be difficult around Knightsbridge, where their offices then were, they would send a car to pick up the Prices from Bromley. It turned out to be a slightly mysterious journey with an unexpected end.

Since they were travelling from north Kent to the West End in the evening rush hour, Margaret guided the chauffeur through some of the short cuts south of the Thames. Neither the Prices nor, apparently, the chauffeur knew exactly where the Sports Council offices were, and when they arrived somewhere near the right area they were all alarmed to hear a metallic grinding sound every time the driver put his foot on the brake.

'I've got a problem here,' the driver said. 'Do you know how far it is now?' Not a clue, was the answer, so he stopped and went into a sweet shop to ask them if they knew. 'It's all right,' he said when he emerged, 'it's only just down the road a bit, so we should manage. You watch out for the numbers: we want number 70.' They went past it, did a U-turn in the middle of Knightsbridge, and eventually landed at the right door at the right time.

There were indeed a lot of sportsmen gathered in the offices. Margaret remembers, apart from Dick Jeeps, the Sport's Council chairman, such names as David Wilkie, Sharron Davies, Alan Pascoe, Linsey MacDonald, Wendy Norman, Rachel Flint, Trevor Brooking and Paul Mariner. She was in the midst of them when another familiar face appeared from nowhere and a voice that most people in Britain could identify said, into a microphone: 'Margaret Price, MBE, This Is Your Life.'

Margaret Price This Is Your Life

'I assume he came through the door,' Margaret said later, 'but for all I knew he came straight up through the floorboards. Even Frank didn't see him coming, and he was expecting him. I took one look at his face and I thought, "It is, it is." I'd seen the television camera in the room, of course, but the Sports Council had told me beforehand that, with it being the Year of the Disabled, Thames TV wanted to cover the discussion.'

If you saw the programme, you may remember that the first sound from Margaret was a rasping sort of gasp. It was one of the rare occasions on which she was not able to control the breathing problems that are always with her. On the other hand Frank, at that moment, was able to turn to Dick Jeeps and whisper: 'I can breathe at last.' It hadn't been easy for him, living with that secret for six weeks during which he was probably not out of her sight for six hours. The closer they came to the day of filming, the more agonising it was - and before the end, of course, other members of the family had to be primed for their part in the deception, some members were even required to deceive each other.

'Because Mum and Dad were going to fly out to Australia the following Tuesday,' Margaret recalled, 'it didn't seem too strange that on the Wednesday evening they said they were going out to see one of the relatives. My brother Colin and his wife Delia, who live in Sidcup, looked in that evening, and I did think it was a bit strange when, soon after Mum had left, Colin said they'd better be getting along. What was in fact happening was that Colin was picking them up in his car and they were all going to the rehearsal, where they have a meal and sit around chatting about the subject (or the victim) and Eamonn Andrews picks up the bits and pieces that he can bring out of them the following night.'

Mr and Mrs Hough were in for a shock at that rehearsal. There they found their daughter Jean and her fiancé, who had been flown in from Australia the previous Sunday to stay in a London hotel, and who had been forbidden to contact the family. During the programme, amid the customary round of emotive sentiment from schoolfriends, nurses, athletes and relations, they included a message from Jean, filmed in front of the Sydney Opera House. That was guaranteed to make even more astonishing the moment when sister Jean's voice was heard off-stage and she was revealed in person.

There have been subjects of This Is Your Life who have been so appalled at the prospect that they have walked out as soon as the man with the mike uttered those memorable words. There have been others who have borne the occasion with more stoicism than enjoyment, but Margaret loved every minute of it: 'It's true that you never get someone coming on and saying, "Oh yes, I remember her, a horrible little so-and-so she was," so perhaps it all seems a bit yucky, but then the idea is to produce a really happy evening, and as far as I was concerned they certainly did that.'

If there was a memorable line from the evening it came, as you might expect, from the merry lips of Ivy Hough: 'I always remember the two perfumes she had as a kid - swimming pool and horse manure.' As they walked out of the Sport's Council offices, Frank told Eamonn Andrews that they nearly hadn't made it, because they had brake trouble. On the contrary, replied Eamonn, you nearly got here too bloody early.

Roy Bottomley This Is Your Life book

Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, This Is Your Life: The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book...

Aged twenty-three and about to qualify as a nurse, Margaret Price, MBE, also had hopes of swimming the English Channel, when she was knocked down by a car on a zebra crossing. She was paralysed from the chest down, but on 26 February 1981, Life's viewers heard how she inspired others by turning tragedy into triumph.

It was the 'International Year of Disabled People' and we surprised her at the headquarters of the Sports Council in the Brompton Road. She had gained no fewer than nine medals in the Olympics for the Disabled.

Joining in our tribute that day were Olympic Silver Medallist Alan Pascoe, Gold Medallists David Wilkie and Sharron Davies, England ladies cricket captain Rachael Heyhoe Flint, West Ham and England's Trevor Brooking, and athletics star Sebastian Coe.

Four of Margaret's world records were for swimming. Former Wales and British Lions captain Cliff Morgan told how he once dived in the pool for a practice swim with her and had to gasp, 'Margaret! Bloody slow down! I can't keep up with you!'

Series 21 subjects

Joe Loss | Julie Goodyear | Lawrie McMenemy | Peter Bowles | Mike Yarwood | John Schlesinger | Andrew Lloyd Webber
Janet Brown | Rodney Bewes | Russell Harty | Joan Wells | Billy Connolly | Bill Owen | Jeffery Archer | Brian Jacks
Melvin Hayes | Fred Housego | Alex Higgins | Tim Brooke-Taylor | Bernard Cribbins | Gemma Craven | Jim Watt
John Thaw | Jonjo O'Neill | Judith Chalmers | Margaret Price