Moira LISTER (1923-2007)

Moira Lister This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 295
  • Subject No: 297
  • Broadcast date: Wed 10 Feb 1971
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 3 Feb 1971
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 11
  • Edition: 13

on the guest list...

  • Mrs Gordon Burgess
  • Vicomte d'Orthez - husband
  • Bob Monkhouse
  • Madeleine Masson
  • Jack Spencer
  • Doreen du Preez - sister
  • Maj James Lister - father
  • Alan Melville
  • Ian Carmichael
  • Derek Nimmo
  • Chantal d'Orthez - daughter
  • Molly Urquhart
  • Donald Hewlett
  • Diana King
  • Elizabeth Allan
  • Margaret Courtenay

production team...

  • Researcher: unknown
  • Writer: unknown
  • Director: Margery Baker
  • Producer: Robert Tyrrell
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
  • With thanks to Chantal d'Orthez for her contribution to this page
related pages...

An Actor's Life For Me

spotlight on the stars

The Night of 1000 Lives

a celebration of a thousand editions

This is his life...

Irish magazine RTE Guide reveals some behind-the-scenes secrets

Eamonn's surprising disguises

TV Times feature on some bizarre outfits

Bob Monkhouse

Moira Lister This Is Your Life Moira Lister This Is Your Life Moira Lister This Is Your Life

Photographs of Moira Lister This Is Your Life

Surprise Of Your Life book

Presenter Eamonn Andrews and producer Jack Crawshaw recall this edition of This Is Your Life in their book, Surprise Of Your Life...

It was indeed a very special kind of champagne cocktail that I served to Moira Lister in the bar of the Vaudeville Theatre: one measure of d'Orthez bubbly from her husband's vineyards in France, topped up with a book of her life story which began in South Africa.

Such ingredients always make for a lot of fun, but what made it even more fun for me was knowing Moira so well. I had known her from her early days in London, shortly after she had arrived from South Africa, having paid her way from the winnings she won in a day out at a Johannesburg racetrack.

But Lucky Lister had called on hard work and talent to follow up a debut at the Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon with a career that made her one of Britain's foremost actresses in the theatre, television and films.

When we heard that she was to "star" at a celebration cocktail party with the cast of the new West End play "Move Over Mrs Markham" early in 1971 , we felt this would be the ideal event at which to surprise her.

Researcher-writers Mary McAnally and Martin Robertson had long chats with Moira's husband Jacques, the Vicomte d'Orthez about his wife's story but it was impresario Peter Saunders who made it possible to spring the initial surprise with his party at the Vaudeville in the Strand.

Knowing that she had been told to expect news cameras at the party, we first considered the possibility of my arriving there as an invited guest. Then we thought we could add a little sparkle to the surprise by my dressing up as a waiter and serving her a glass of champagne from the vineyards of her debonair husband, the Vicomte.

I had been smuggled into the theatre wearing my waiter's uniform and was hiding ready to switch places with a real waiter when Moira and other members of a glittering cast, including Tony Britton, Terence Alexander, Cicely Courtneidge and Lana Morris, arrived in the front of house bar.

After a few drinks had been served I made a discreet entrance and moved towards Moira who was looking as glamorous as ever and holding court in the middle of the crowded bar. It was a most extraordinary experience. I went right up to her and offered her some champagne. In her own aristocratic manner she condescended to accept a glass. I poured it and then spoke to her.

I got the feeling she was thinking the waiter was being slightly impertinent, but she passed it over graciously. It reminded me once again of something we so often sense on This Is Your Life: just how invisible you can become in certain circumstances.

Chesterton highlighted it in his story of the invisible postman. He was so familiar a sight that no one ever saw him. People swore the street was empty.

As that waiter I, too, had been invisible. But only momentarily. Moira recognised my voice took another look at the persistent waiter, and saw that, apart from the bottle of bubbly, I was holding a red book. And that book, like the bottle, contained something sparkling that was all her very own.

Series 11 subjects

Bob Hope | Vidal Sassoon | Talbot Rothwell | Mike and Bernie Winters | Joe Brown | Patrick Campbell | Bobby Moore
Robert Soutter | Graham Hill | Sandy Powell | Edward Woodward | Moira Lister | Dickie Henderson | Wilfred Pickles
Kenny Ball | Marjorie Proops | Basil D'Oliveira | Clive Dunn | Peter Noone | Monica Dickens | Jon Pertwee
Lionel Jeffries | Adam Faith | Googie Withers | Matt Busby