Peter BUTTERWORTH (1915-1979)

Peter Butterworth This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 405
  • Subject No: 403
  • Broadcast date: Wed 5 Mar 1975
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 26 Feb 1975
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 15
  • Edition: 18
  • Code name: Yellow

on the guest list...

  • Janet Brown - wife
  • Tyler - son
  • Emma - daughter
  • Adm Sir Frank Hopkins
  • James von Nervaden
  • Vincent 'Paddy' Byrne
  • Rupert Davies
  • Talbot Rothwell
  • David Bevan-John
  • John Casson
  • Anthony Ffrench-Mullen
  • Bobby Laumans
  • Oliver Philpot
  • Harry Corbett
  • Terry Scott
  • Jimmy Jewel
  • Clas van der Cuhe
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Clas Kalles
  • Cory Kalles

production team...

  • Researchers: Carol Lee, Fred Austin
  • Writer: John Sandilands
  • Director: Robert Reed
  • Producer: Jack Crawshaw
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Tyler Butterworth, son of Peter Butterworth, recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in an exclusive interview recorded in June 2022

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Screenshots of Peter Butterworth This Is Your Life

Janet Brown's autobiography

Janet Brown recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in her autobiography, Prime Mimicker...

Lots of people don't believe that the programme This Is Your Life is really genuine. Well, it is. It really is a surprise. I know, for it happened to me. Earlier on, they had done Pete's life and I found the comparisons interesting. Here, before coming to me, is how it happened to Pete. They decided he should be 'caught' in Selfridges. The studio rang to talk to me about it, and to work out how they could get him there.

'How about a phone call from you saying you're buying a new dress, and you want him to come up and look at it before you make up your mind?'

'Don't be silly,' I said, 'he would think I was mental, he would never come up from Sussex just for that. But I tell you what might work – if you got Pinewood Studios to phone him, and say they had arranged for him to be photographed in one of the departments with some of the glamour girls for the next Carry On film, I think he might believe that.' And sure enough, he did.

But before all this took place, I had to get him away from home, so that I could find old diaries and addresses for the researchers. I didn't like this part: I felt awfully guilty looking at his personal papers.

On the morning of the programme I asked him where he was going to be that day, knowing full well he was going to be in Selfridges. But I feigned great surprise when he told me.

'Oh, really? Selfridges? I'm having my hair done nearby. Why don't I meet you?'

And so we arranged to see each other under the big clock outside. I was petrified. I felt so unnatural and nervous when we greeted each other. I was sure he would sense something. I looked at my watch – we shouldn't really be in the store until shortly after four. Everything was timed to the minute. But Pete was never one for hanging about, and he made it clear when I tried to stop him.

'Oh, I've just remembered – I need to buy some, er, toilet water. Yes, that's right...' I was in a real old state by now.

'Well, buy it,' he said. 'You don't need me for that.' And he strode off.

I ran after him in an absolute panic. It was terribly important he shouldn't be in the particular department where the cameras were until a certain time. Oh dear, I thought, as we approached the department, the cameras are trained on us, they're going to see us, we're supposed to be a happily married couple and here we are on the verge of a row.

Pete was met by the wardrobe mistress for the film. There were no girls to be seen. By this time he was decidedly edgy, and when he asked where they were, and she said they were changing, he walked off into the shoe department. Everything was going wrong. Suddenly through the tannoy system came an announcement. 'Would shoppers please wait a moment. The well-known actor Peter Butterworth is in the store, and he is in for a great surprise.' Eamonn Andrews's voice went on, 'if you can hear this, Peter Butterworth...' Peter Butterworth couldn't hear it, he was in a department where the tannoy didn't reach!

Eamonn was hiding behind a clothes rack, microphone in hand and perspiration pouring down his face. He said later he aged ten years! Somehow I managed to get Pete to the spot where he should have been, and Eamonn duly surprised him.

The team had thought of everything when they planned this – except one thing. The human element. They assumed what Pete would do, and he had done quite the opposite. But in the end it was a lovely night for him. Many of his ex-Fleet Air Arm and prisoner-of-war friends turned up, Tyler and Emma were allowed out of school to be present, and I know that they felt very proud of him.

Series 15 subjects

Jack Ashley | John Conteh | Jack Howarth | Chay Blyth | Bill Maynard | Richard O'Sullivan | Dick Francis | Arthur Askey
Jean Kent | Geoff Love | Ray Cooney | Queenie Watts | Harry Johnson | Leonard Rossiter | John Hanson | Denis Law
Ted Ray | Peter Butterworth | Nina Baden-Semper | Dickie Davies | Moira Anderson | Precious McKenzie | Mollie Sugden
Michael Bates | Willie John McBride | Petula Clark | Garfield Sobers