Michael WINNER (1935-2013)

Michael Winner This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1080
  • Subject No: 1055
  • Broadcast date: Wed 17 Oct 2001
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.00pm
  • Recorded: Sun 7 Oct 2001
  • Repeated: Fri 16 Aug 2002 7.00pm
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 42
  • Edition: 1
  • Code name: First

on the guest list...

  • Frank Finlay
  • Patrick Ryecart
  • Laurence Marks
  • Maurice Gran
  • Rachel De Thame
  • Nigel Dempster
  • Andrew Neil
  • John Fraser
  • Georgina Hristova - partner
  • Marco Pierre White
  • Dermot Walsh
  • Leslie Bricusse
  • Lionel Blair
  • Don Black
  • Queenie Fletcher
  • Tim Fletcher
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Anne Robinson
  • Joan Collins
  • Michael Caine
  • Sir John Stevens

production team...

  • Researcher: Jo Grant
  • Writer: Ian Brown
  • Director: John Gorman
  • Associate Producer: Helen Gordon-Smith
  • Executive Producer: John Longley
  • Series Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • Producer: Sue Green
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Reel Life

cinematic celebrations

Lionel Blair

Anne Robinson

Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life Michael Winner This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Michael Winner This Is Your Life

Michael Winner autobiography

Michael Winner recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Winner Takes All...

I'm actually a very quiet and well-behaved person, contrary to the views of some people. I suppose I've encouraged the view that I'm eccentric and difficult. I'm not really difficult. I go into restaurants, I eat very quietly. If I know the people in the kitchen I go and thank them and the waiters. Then I go away. This disappoints many people who see me there. They're desperately hoping they'll be a scene.

Michael Caine, when I did This Is Your Life, said I was a complete fraud because I was nothing like my public image! And he's known me very well for forty years! The only person whose view I really have to care about is my own. If I can go to bed at night satisfied that I haven't hurt anybody, that I've made some contribution to society however minor, and that I behaved decently, then I can rest easy.


'Michael, you've been a friend to me for a long long time. But whenever I read a newspaper I never recognise the person who is my friend. So I am here to tell everybody you are a complete and utter fraud. You come on like this bombastic, ill-tempered monster. It's not the side of you I see. I see a man who has a tremendous artistic eye, you have one the greatest collections of illustrations from children's books that I have ever seen. You are an incredible legal brain. Before I even go to my own lawyer I talk to you first, You are extremely funny, very sensitive, very kind and very generous. I hope everyone believes me when I say you are a kind, gentle, wonderful person. And I'm not kidding.'

Michael Winner biography

Dinah May recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in her book, Surviving Michael Winner...

Michael was selected to be surprised by Michael Aspel and the big red book on the very popular television show This Is Your Life. It was John Fraser who took the call. He was asked to help in the making of the secret arrangements. The problem was that John knew that the secret arrangements could only be made if Michael knew about them.

To put it more clearly, he knew that the only way that the secret arrangements could stand a chance of meeting with Michael's approval would be if Michael arranged them himself. This would somehow have to be done very carefully. John secretly told Michael about the secret and Michael secretly agreed that he was happy with the secret programme as long as he was controlling things. Secretly, of course. It was as simple as that. With Michael secretly instructing him, John set to work. Michael was well aware that it was a cast-iron rule of the show that the chosen victim had to be kept totally in the dark so they were truly surprised on camera. He knew that the programme's producers would have dropped him like a stone if they had had any inkling of what was going on. Everything had to be done very, very carefully. Friends and associates from the long or recent past were called and asked if they could take part. The whole thing was touch and go for a while when John reported that neither Michael Caine or Roger Moore could make it to the show. Michael naturally wanted it to be as star-studded as possible. The situation was saved when Michael Caine agreed to film a brief interview about Michael to be shown during the programme. As the big day approached he became nervous of his ability to appear sufficiently surprised when the time came. I tested him once by walking into his office holding the Yellow Pages for central London wrapped in a red scarf. When I looked him in the eye and said,'Michael Winner, this is your life,' he nearly fell off his chair. But that was through laughing rather than surprise. The rehearsal wasn't very helpful, but when the moment came I think he pulled it off OK. And anyway, the actual reality of seeing so many people from his life gathered together was a genuine surprise and delight for him.

Michael Aspel, the show's presenter, made his 'surprise' appearance and 'Michael Winner, this is your life' announcement as Michael dined out with Georgina, Marco Pierre White and his wife Mati. Once this had happened, and Michael had been given time to recover, he was then rushed to the TV studios where friends and colleagues and people whose lives had crossed with Michael's at some point were waiting. He carried it off perfectly and nobody suspected a thing. The actor Dermot Walsh was there in the studio, whom Michael had first met when he interviewed him for a newspaper article aged only fifteen, and also John Fraser, of course, whom Michael had known since schooldays. The composer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse and his wife Yvonne Romain were there too. Michael and Leslie had been friends ever since they first met at Cambridge. Leslie said he had always liked Michael because he was someone who 'always speaks his mind', but also 'like Stephen King, he likes frightening people'. Andrew Neil spoke of that side of him too, saying that his reason for giving him the Sunday Times column was because he was looking for someone 'independent, honest and downright rude'. It was Michael Caine who called Michael a 'fraud' and said that he didn't recognise descriptions of him in the press. He described him as 'very kind and very generous'. This side of Michael's chameleon character was reinforced when Sir John Stevens, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, and also Yvonne Fletcher's parents, Tim and Queenie, gave him a glowing tribute for his work in founding the Police Memorial Trust. Michael was very nearly in tears as he hugged them both. Since the beginnings of the Trust Michael had spoken to them regularly and I often saw them at the unveiling of new memorials. They were such kind-hearted and gentle people and in many ways I felt they had come to be as much the figureheads of the Trust as Michael himself. And I knew he adored them.

Series 42 subjects

Michael Winner | Shaun Williamson | Paddy Ashdown | Tim Smit | Babs Powell | Saeed Jaffrey | Paul Young | Julian Clary
Jonah Lomu | Rosemary Conley | Ian Woosnam | Bill Oddie | Fern Britton | Nick Ross | Ray and Trevor Powles
Stephanie Cook | Ian Lavender | Jenny Seagrove | Anita Dobson | Henry Sandon | Linda Barker | Brigit Forsyth
Christina Noble | Claire Sweeney | Lloyd Scott | Julian Fellowes