Midge URE (1953-)

Midge Ure This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 1071
  • Subject No: 1046
  • Broadcast date: Wed 28 Mar 2001
  • Broadcast time: 8.00-8.30pm
  • Recorded: Fri 23 Mar 2001
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 41
  • Edition: 18
  • Code name: Austria

on the guest list...

  • Glenn Gregory
  • Mark King
  • Howard Jones
  • Chris Cross
  • Bruno Brookes
  • Chris Morrison
  • Bett - mother
  • Jim - father
  • Bobby - brother
  • Linda - sister
  • Molly - daughter
  • Kitty - daughter
  • Sheridan Forbes - partner
  • Bob Geldof
  • Alec Baird
  • Alan Wright
  • Kenny Ireland
  • Gordon Appacellie
  • Kenny Hislop
  • Tiger Tim Stevens
  • Rusty Egan
  • Scott Gorham
  • Caroline Taraskevics
  • Paul Young
  • Paddy Moloney
  • Yello Kabede
  • Lyn - mother-in-law
  • Mike - father-in-law
  • Ruby - daughter
  • Florence - daughter
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Chris Tarrant
  • Martin Kemp
  • Gary Kemp
  • Michael Buerk
  • George Martin

production team...

  • Researcher: Emma Dooley
  • Writer: Joe Steeples
  • 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...

Top of the Pops

charting the pop stars

New Lease of Life

the programme's relaunch

Secrets Of 'Life': The ones who got away

Producer Malcolm Morris exposes some production secrets to TV Times

Phil Collins

Martin Kemp

Paul Young

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Screenshots of Midge Ure This Is Your Life

Midge Ure autobiography

Midge Ure recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, If I Was...

I should have guessed something was up when the BBC sent a car for me. These days I'm no longer considered to be a pop star so I'm allowed to drive myself.

In March 2001 I was doing interviews promoting Move Me. One was with Johnny Walker at Radio 2, who'd told me to 'bring along your guitar, do an acoustic version of "Vienna" ... or anything else you fancy playing'. So there I was talking to Johnny, who I hadn't seen for a long time, and he's asking about the new record, all the regular stuff, Ultravox, Visage, life with Thin Lizzy, right back to my days as a reluctant teen idol. There were TV cameras hovering around but Johnny warned me there was a documentary being made on Radio 2 and to ignore them.

In every interview I ever give I am asked about 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' and Live Aid so it was no surprise when Johnny started asking about it. I sat in the studio, my guitar on my lap, reminiscing away. In my peripheral vision I saw someone move, but I didn't pay it much attention. Suddenly there was Geldof looming above me. My bottle went a little bit wobbly, and I couldn't understand what was going on. All Bob said was, 'Are you able to play it or what?' Well he certainly can't, so I went into automatic, twang on the guitar and I played the opening chords. The door opened again and in came a camera crew 'I've waited fifteen years to get you for this, you bugger,' said Bob. 'It's payback time.' Then Michael Aspel emerged from behind him clutching the big red book. I'd been kippered, completely stitched up. I'd done the same to Bob just after Live Aid and now he had his revenge. I wanted to run out of the room. What if they'd wheeled out some hideous teacher I hated from my primary school? It wouldn't be a party, more of a wake with me sitting there like a lemon watching what was going on, listening to everybody saying all these nice things about me just as if I was lying in a coffin in the corner.

Too late. I was trapped. With a beaming smile Michael Aspel announced, 'I needed a bit of Live Aid on this one so Bob has come ahead of me so that I could say: Tonight, Midge Ure, This Is Your Life.'

It was a great honour to be picked for the show, but part of me was muttering, 'Hang on, I'm not dead. I'm not even fifty. My career's not over. It's just different.' Now it's done - and especially as they're not making it any more - I'm delighted to have been a part of TV history.

At least the guests weren't a succession of household names playing the Old Pals act. There was a good collection of mates like Chris Morrison, big Glenn, Mark King, Paul Young, Mark Brzezicki, Rusty, Scott Gorham from Thin Lizzy and Howard Jones. Howard and I had worked together on Prince's Trust concerts before I toured with him in the States. I remember when we played 'Delta Lady' for Joe Cocker, Joe was really taken aback that this synthesizer kid with the silly haircut could actually play serious boogie-woogie piano and delta blues. It was great to see Kenny Hyslop again. Kenny is one of those guys who hasn't been sober for thirty years... and that night showed he wasn't intending to be sober for the next thirty.

Chris Cross had changed since he became a counsellor. He'd become shy and a bit diffident in public and really disliked being on the telly. Somehow they'd found Tiger Tim Stevens, a Radio Clyde DJ, who for reasons of his own had championed Slik, and because they needed a DJ from the 80s they had grabbed poor old Bruno Brookes and dragged him along; he was as confused as I was. It was an oddity to have Paddy Moloney walk through the door - not being a pop star from the 80s. He's a great character and rather than hobnob with the other guests he spent ages backstage teaching Kitty how to play the penny whistle.

Yello Kabede, the head of the Ethiopian Support Committee, turned up as did Caroline Crowther - who's married to Dave Taskevedis, Peter Gabriel's tour manager - another reminder of how much I still miss Phil Lynott. There were video messages from George Martin, Gary and Martin Kemp and Michael Buerk.

Chris Tarrant did his thing from the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? chair, and asked the embarrassing question: In February 1981, which artist beat Ultravox's 'Vienna' to the Number One spot in the UK charts?

A: Keith Harris and Orville the Duck - 'Orville's Song'

B: Joe Dolce Music Theatre - 'Shaddap You Face'

C: Sheb Wooley - 'The Purple People Eater'

D: The Wurzels - 'The Combine Harvester'

Thanks, Chris - I really needed to be reminded about Joe Dolce one more time. At least he sent me a million-pound cheque, which I've got framed up in the bathroom. It may be a fake but I think it will be the last million-pound cheque I ever get.

The researchers had delved right back into my past and found my first band, the Stumble. When I first heard Alec Baird's voice I was really confused and when they all came through the door there was this hotchpotch of old men - Alec, Alan Wright, Kenny Ireland and Gordan Appacellie - who I could hardly recognise. But they probably thought the same thing when they saw me.

It was really funny to see them. Alec produced this hand-painted crash helmet of mine that I'd customised with the blue crackle paint they used on steelworkers' toolboxes. I'd left it at his house one day 35 years ago - I still don't know how I got home. The best thing he brought was a demo I'd done in my first studio - the shed in Mum and Dad's garden - with my Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder. It had a thing called 'sound on sound' where you couldn't multitrack but you could record a guitar track and then switch it across. If I balanced it properly I could do it four or five times and have something that sounded vaguely real. He played the tail-end of this demo I'd done, though it was so crackly the tune could have been anything. At the fade-out all I could hear in the background was the jingles from the ice-cream van outside in the street.

After the show I had a couple of drinks with Alec. After the Stumble he'd joined Contraband, a folk-rock band, and we all thought he'd really made it because they actually made an album, then he went on to join some hippy-trippy Gong-type band. I asked him what it was like playing with them. 'I had to count to twenty-nine and a half then hit the cymbal,' he said. Then he joined the Jags and enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame.

Both Linda and Bobby were there, and it was really nice to see them. We have a funny family setup. In Glasgow we were always very close, living on top of each other in the same small house. I didn't leave home until I was 22 and Bobby was still there. It was like an Italian family. My mum and dad were never rid of us kids, but as soon as we fled the nest we all went in different directions.

I'm really glad my mum and dad were at the recording. To their generation that show was bigger, more important than Band Aid - they never quite understood what that was all about. They saw This Is Your Life on telly every week for 35 years. It was a massive, massive thing for my dad. He died just over a year later.

Berkshire Live 16 November 2001 updated 8 June 2013

Midge Ure looks back and cringes

This Is Your Life is billed as a night of surprises, but the biggest shock of all for the appearance of Midge Ure in March was the fact that they found a red book big enough to contain his life story.

Ure, who comes to Reading's Hexagon on March 25 as part his first full tour in over a decade, has crammed enough in 25 years in the music industry to fill half a dozen books.

The cult ITV show highlighted that fact and inspired the launch of the Greatest Hits album and the current tour to back it up.

But the veteran Scottish star is at pains to stress that this is no curtain call on a dazzling career, nor a comfortable end-of-career ride on the 80s revival bandwagon.

Ure, he insists, has a long way to go before he is ready to put his feet up and start thumbing through that big red book which now sits proudly among the gold discs, all neatly book-ended by Ivor Novello and Grammy awards.

"I'm bad at looking back," he bites, with a needless wince at some of his earliest achievements.

"To me, it's like flicking through a scrapbook or a family photo album. I defy anyone to look back through the family album and not cringe at least once when they get more than a few years back."

"It was the same for me when I was putting the Best Of album together."

"I'm horrified by some of the old stuff I did, particularly some of the Ultravox album tracks."

"I listened to them and thought 'what was I on?'."

What he was on was a glorious ride to the heights of the industry and the respect of his - and subsequent - generation of music fans.

That respect culminated in 1984 when he teamed up with Bob Geldof for the Band Aid and Live Aid projects which helped rescue Ethiopia from famine.

There was no more versatile musician than Ure to work with Geldof and that versatility was underlined by success with Slik, The Rich Kids, Ultravox, Visage and, of course, a hugely successful solo career.

Plenty to talk about then when Michael Aspel thrust the red book under Ure's nose earlier this year.

"It was a strange experience and, to me, it felt like a wake," recalled Ure.

"There were all these people saying nice things about me and it felt as if I should be lying in the corner."

"They organise the programme with the thought of putting on the best party possible after the show has been filmed and it worked. It was also nice that my dad got to see it before he died."

"To his generation, This Is Your Life is the ultimate slap on the back."

The after-show party, evidently, is still going on. Reading fans get their chance to join in at The Hexagon on November 26.

For tickets call the box office on (0118) 960 6060.

Series 41 subjects

Matthew Pinsent | Todd Carty | Vinnie Jones | Donald Woods | Linda Lusardi | Dorothy Tutin | Paula Tilbrook | John Humphrys
Andrew Davis | James Ellis | Sue Jenkins | Geoffrey Hughes | John van Weenen | Charles Dance | Mick Channon
Jonathan Ross | Simon Rouse | Midge Ure | John Barnes | Paul Jones | Patrick Robinson | Jim Shekhdar
Valerie Singleton | Darren Gough | Kevin Woodford | Richard Stilgoe