Pat KIRKWOOD (1921-2007)

Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life
  • The last edition produced by Thames Television to be broadcast on ITV

programme details...

  • Edition No: 892
  • Subject No: 879
  • Broadcast date: Wed 20 Jul 1994
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Thu 20 Jan 1994
  • Venue: Teddington Studios
  • Series: 34
  • Edition: 26
  • Code name: Society

on the guest list...

  • Peter Knight - husband
  • Van Johnson
  • Alfred Black
  • Roma Beaumont
  • Robert Nesbitt
  • Wendy Toye
  • June Whitfield
  • Hubert Gregg
  • Carmel Gregg
  • Patricia Hodge
  • Michael Denison
  • Dulcie Gray
  • Brian - brother
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Lord Delfont
  • Carole Lynne
  • Lewis Gilbert
  • Shani Wallis
  • Evelyn Laye

production team...

  • Researcher: Elizabeth Ross
  • Writer: Simon Booker
  • Director: Brian Klein
  • Associate Producer: John Graham
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Life is a Cabaret

a musical theatre chorus line


the show's fifty year history

This is Leslie Jackson's Life

Interview with the first producer of This Is Your Life

Michael Denison

Dulcie Gray

Patricia Hodge

Evelyn Laye

Wendy Toye

June Whitfield


Michael Thornton, friend of Pat Kirkwood, recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in October 2012

Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Pat Kirkwood This Is Your Life

Pat Kirkwood's autobiography

Pat Kirkwood recalls her experience of This Is Your Life in her autobiography, The Time of My Life...

Something extremely pleasant happened on 20 January 1994, although the beginning was rather mysterious. In December 1993, Barry Burnett, my new agent, rang to say he had been asked to arrange an interview with me for Thames Television at the Prince of Wales Theatre.

They were holding an anniversary celebration for the theatre's birthday and all the principal artists who had played there had been invited to give an interview on their stage experiences. I was delighted to accept, as I had done two shows there – one of them Chrysanthemum.

Then strange things began to happen at home. Peter was, as usual, talking a lot on the telephone, but now would close the door for prolonged periods. When I entered the room for some papers he would mutter down the phone, 'Sorry, can't talk any more now,' and put it down. I thought this was a bit odd, and when I asked him who he was talking to he said it was the vicar, but without much conviction.

Then one evening when he had gone to bed I went upstairs and heard the murmur of a voice, rather muffled, and opening the bedroom door I gazed on a large lump of bedclothes under which Peter was whispering into his mobile telephone. He immediately surfaced, giving me a sickly smile. What was going on? Had Peter a secret companion? I was mystified but did not ask him anything. Shortly after, he announced that he had to go to WH Smith's in Darlington, about thirty miles away. I still kept quiet.

On the day before the interview on 20 January, we set off for the Cavendish Club, near Marble Arch, and the following morning presented ourselves at the Prince of Wales Theatre in readiness for my interview. The television cameras were set up in the downstairs bar, the cameramen and the interviewer – whom I had not met before – were already there, but there was no sign of any other artists.

Either they were late or I was early. We began the interview, but shortly after we had started the interviewer began to move away from behind the camera and I had to bend in my chair toward him, still talking and wondering what was going on. In the middle of my sentence I sensed someone standing next to me and turned.

Close to me was Michael Aspel with an enormous red book in his hands. I completely lost my cool and gave what I can only describe as a loud, inelegant yelp, reminiscent of Eliza in Pygmalion. 'It's the man with the book' I cried tremulously, although I knew it was Michael as I had seen him on television many times; now, however, his name deserted me. 'This is your life,' said Michael, but I felt it was just the opposite.

What a shock! Michael laughed his handsome head off, as did the cameraman, the interviewer and, lurking in a corner, my scheming husband!

I was whisked off to the Teddington studios, shown into a dressing-room and provided with champagne and delicious sandwiches, neither of which I could touch at the time. Also I noticed a familiar looking suitcase, which, the make-up woman explained, had been packed by my husband with some dresses for me to choose from.

Later I learned that he had organised the whole operation and kept it all secret so that I would not know. He was aided and abetted by our good friend, Michael Thornton. The television staff were marvellous and helped me back to earth and to relax. I was then shepherded to the set, where I waited for Michael Aspel to call my name.

When he did and I came onstage the reception I received was heart-warming. The audience had not known who was appearing and, thankfully, welcomed me most generously. Sitting on seats on either side were a host of old colleagues and friends – it was like a happy dream.

Then a galaxy of talented artists with whom I had worked over the years began to appear: Roma Beaumont and her husband Alfred, the son of George Black; Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray; Wendy Toye; Shani Wallis, on video from America; Van Johnson, flown over from the United Sates; Lord Delfont and his wife Carole Lynne, together on the video screen with a warm message; Lewis Gilbert, my film director in Once a Sinner, likewise; Evelyn Laye, too – seated at her piano in her home – raised her glass to me; Robert Nesbitt, my director in many shows; June Whitfield; Hubert Gregg with his wife Carmel and their two children Kathy and Robert; Gerry Phillips, stage director, and not least, Patricia Hodge.

The surprise of the evening, its culmination, was the entrance of my brother Brian, whom I had not seen for nine years. He had been flown over from his home in Palm Springs, California. He made a splendid entrance and contribution, as confident as ever and exciting the television crew to comment upon his professionalism.

After hanging on, amidst all these nostalgic memories, hoping I would not give way to the tears I was on the point of shedding, this last emotive meeting was very nearly more than I could bear. It was one of the happiest and most touching nights of 'my life', thanks to my colleagues and friends, who had made the effort to support the programme, and to the meticulous organisation of the director and the team responsible for it.

Later I was to receive 'the Red Book' in remembrance of the occasion. I shall always treasure it.

Series 34 subjects

Little and Large | Michael Graydon | Jeremy Beadle | Jill Summers | Phyllis Maycock | David Hasselhoff | Bill Kenwright
Richard Briers | Edward Hardwicke | David Cassidy | Frankie Vaughan | Coral Atkins | Charlton Heston | Joe Longthorne
Francis Lee | Edmundo Ros | Ron Moody | Reg Gutteridge | Bob Carolgees | Allan Border | Sydney Samuelson
Dean Bell | Michael Craig | Virginia Elliot | Richard Thorp | Pat Kirkwood