Ted HEATH (1902-1969)

Ted Heath This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 83
  • Subject No: 83
  • Broadcast live: Mon 26 Jan 1959
  • Broadcast time: 7.30-8.00pm
  • Venue: BBC Television Theatre
  • Series: 4
  • Edition: 18

on the guest list...

  • Robertson Hare
  • Al Starita
  • Harry Mortimer
  • Moira - wife
  • Sydney Lipton
  • Denis Chaundy
  • Paul Carpenter
  • Lydia MacDonald - via telephone
  • Dickie Valentine
  • Charles Holt
  • Raymond - son
  • Bobby - son
  • Martin - son
  • Valerie - daughter
  • Nickie - son
  • Timmie - son
  • Foden's Motor Works Band
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Lita Roza
  • Nat King Cole

production team...

  • Researchers: Ken Smith, Liam Nolan
  • Writers: Ken Smith, Liam Nolan
  • Special Effects: Douglas Mair
  • Drawings: Tony Hart
  • Director: Vere Lorrimer
  • Producer: T Leslie Jackson
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

A Musical Life

blowing a trumpet for the musicians

Titles and Music

the iconic titles and theme tunes

This Is Your Life

Radio Times marks the 200th edition

Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life Ted Heath This Is Your Life

Photographs and screenshots of Ted Heath This Is Your Life

Nick Heath, son of Ted Heath, recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in this exclusive contribution to the BigRedBook website...

All that I can recall is that my mother, my brother and I (maybe Val too) spent some time driving around Shepherd's Bush roundabout (which seemed exciting in itself at the time!).

Apparently, when my father was asked (a surprise) to conduct a brass band at the end of the show, he was given a card with two pieces of music on it. I think he was looking at the wrong side but obviously gave up and just got on with it regardless!

Ted Heath biography

Moira Heath recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in her book, I Haven't Said Thanks, The Story of Ted and Moira Heath...

In 1959, the BBC chose Ted to be the subject of This Is Your Life. Anybody who has not been involved in this wonderful programme, cannot realise the enormous amount of research, careful questioning and planning to get several busy, well known people together on the night, and the innumerable 'lies' that have to be told, to explain certain unusual happenings and secret meetings, so that the honoured person (some think victim) will not be aware that they are the chosen one.

The BBC approached Moira to ask her if it would be acceptable to Ted, and if there might be any inclusions, which would cause embarrassment or unhappiness and swore her to secrecy. This, unless one has experienced it, is a somewhat traumatic, but exciting time. There were many discussions that had to take place, which necessitated Moira going into town several times, and caused amusement to Ted, who asked her why. She explained that she was going shopping, which he accepted quite happily, except for the remark that she wasn't having much luck, as there were no shopping bags around? However, he had no suspicion of what was happening, but to ensure secrecy, it was decided to have a completely 'dummy' cast.

In Ted's case, the care and trouble taken was enormous. A whole cast of another This Is Your Life show were gathered together, having given their permission to be used as 'dummies'. Robertson Hare, the very famous actor of the Aldwych farces, and a dear friend of the Heaths, was to be the chosen star, a kind and generous gesture on his part. A complete show was put together with 'Bunny' Hare, his lovely wife Rene and daughter Diana and several friends of Bunny's acting days were gathered together, including Winifred Shotter, the female star of the famous comedies. The story, then told to Ted, was that he would be the guest on the Robertson Hare show. This explained too, the reason for Moira's absences saying she was not accustomed to being on television and needed rehearsals with Eamonn Andrews. Ted was in happy ignorance of what was to come.

On the day of the show, Moira was allowed to tell Val, Martin, Ray and Bobby that they were to appear at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, that night. The two little sons, Nick and Tim, were not told then. Val rushed out to get her hair done and needless to say, there was great excitement in the family.

Ted was working all day at a session and had been told he would not be needed for rehearsal, as he was an old hand at broadcasting. To be sure he did not get a glimpse of the children when he arrived at the theatre, Val drove Nick and Tim round and round Shepherd's Bush, until the last minute before transmission, and then waited in the wings for the show to begin.

Shortly before the time came for transmission, Ted turned up at the theatre. He was shown into Eamonn Andrews' dressing room, and there on the table was a red book with 'This Is Your Life Robertson Hare' on it in large letters. Ted was completely relaxed and went on to the stage with a big smile and sat down with Bunny Hare's family and friends, including Moira, ready to play his part. When Eamonn Andrews went up to him, with the red book, and said 'This is your life, Ted Heath', he was struck dumb. His ears went bright red, and he was overcome with shyness.

The show then proceeded, as so carefully planned by T. Leslie Jackson, the producer, Ken Smith and Liam Nolan, the script writers, and of course the great and genial host, Eamonn Andrews.

Robertson Hare was the first to appear and delighted in showing his fondness for Ted. Moira was next to be brought on. She was very, very nervous and was afraid of forgetting her words, but Eamonn, the perfect professional, was kindness itself, and told her not to worry, he would help her through, if necessary. Such a charming and delightful man.

Then followed Al Starita, an American bandleader Ted had worked with in his early days as a musician. Al had been flown from America to appear on the show. He had arrived in England in summer clothes, suited to his home in Palm Beach and was feeling the cold. The BBC bought him warm jumpers to wear, and a very English overcoat, which delighted him. He had not seen Ted for many years, and there were many memories to talk about. He presented Ted with a gold key to the city of Palm Beach. Moira had arranged for him to stay with them in their home in Wimbledon for a week, so there was plenty of time for catching up on the years, and he enjoyed every minute of the experience.

The next guest was Harry Mortimer, an old friend of Ted's. When they were boys, they competed in the Brass Band Championships and were great rivals as well as 'mates'. His father was Fred Mortimer, great brass band leader of Fodens Band, and Harry had taken over from his father, on retirement. Harry was one of the greatest brass band musicians of all time.

Another guest was Denis Chaundy, a business man and keen golfer, who liked to be known as 'Ted's Number One Fan'. He was thrilled with the whole occasion and never wavered in his admiration and devotion to Ted.

There then followed the friends who were part of Ted's professional life. Paul Carpenter, great character, singer and compere in Ted's band. Always natural, a joker and a delightful personality. Dickie Valentine too, the romantic who was adored by the fans. Sydney Lipton, the great band leader who had been such a good friend to Ted, and had given him back his self confidence appeared next.

There followed a filmed interview with Lita Roza, the beautiful girl singer with the band. She could not be present, because of a previous engagement, but she spoke charmingly to Ted.

Another guest was the old, old friend of Ted's who had played with him in his busking days, Charles Holt, a great surprise to Ted, there were many memories to exchange.

Near to the end of the show, the great Nat King Cole was shown on the screen, speaking to Ted, with great affection and admiration. Sorry that he could not be there, but he would not miss being there on Ted's This Is Your Life for worlds.

There was also a telephone conversation with Lydia MacDonald, Ted's first singer, from Rome. She too, would have loved to be there, but she could not leave her mother, who was not very well.

Before the finale, came the entrance of Ted's children. Ray, Bobby, Martin, Val, Nick and Tim. The two little boys were literally pushed on to the stage, into the spotlight and Ted's delight in seeing his family was joyous.

The planned finale was then on show. The whole of Fodens Brass Band came on stage, Ted was handed a baton (something he never used, it was usually a tatty old silver pencil, rather chewed up!) and the music for the piece they were going to play for Ted to conduct. The fact that the music was upside down slightly fazed him, but laughing, he turned it the right way and conducted this wonderful brass band, thanks to Harry Mortimer.

There were only two regrets for Moira. She had wanted Stanley Matthews, England's greatest footballer, and a very close friend of Ted's and Jack Hylton, who had been in Ted's professional life at the beginning, to be on the show.

Regretfully, they could not be included because they themselves were due to be the next subjects of This Is Your Life in the immediate future.

It might be of interest, that the 'Red Book' handed over at the end of the show, was really a working copy. It contained the running order, and time sheets. The real red book was delivered to Ted's Berkeley House office later, enclosing pictures taken during the transmission.

At the end, this tribute concluded the book:

Ted Heath

Man of Music, may this book be one more tribute to an outstanding instrumentalist, star entertainer on three Continents and above all a true Gentleman.

Series 4 subjects

Jo Capka | Jimmy Edwards | Andrew Milbourne | Bella Burge | Tommy Steele | Ronald Shiner | James Edward Wood
Margaret Rowena Jones | John Griffiths | Freddy Bloom | Bransby Williams | Miriam Moses | Elsie Mullock | John Vidler
Florence Desmond | Noel Duckworth | Alfred Daniel Wintle | Ted Heath | Andrew Macdonald | Harriet Cohen
Willie Hall | Reginald Blanchford | Kenneth More | Hugh Llewelyn Glyn Hughes | Miriam Jowett | Ted Willis
Alfred Southon | Tiger Sarll | Mary Ward | Roy Gill | Stirling Moss | Ethel Goldsack | Tommy Trinder