Terry BIDDLECOMBE (1941-2014)

Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 383
  • Subject No: 384
  • Broadcast live: Wed 17 Apr 1974
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Repeated: Wed 10 Apr 1974
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 14
  • Edition: 23

on the guest list...

  • Macer Gifford
  • Michael Scudamore
  • Tim Brookshaw
  • Bridget - wife
  • Tony - brother
  • Walter - father
  • Nancy - mother
  • Fred Winter
  • Dave Dick
  • Josh Gifford
  • Bob Davies - brother-in-law
  • Sue - sister
  • Bill Wilson
  • Fred Rimell
  • Pat Taaffe
  • Jo Ballinger
  • letter from Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Frankie Vaughan
  • Stella
  • David
  • Billy Marsh
  • Laura - daughter

production team...

  • Researcher: Nina Burr
  • Writer: Frank Hayes
  • Director: Peter Webb
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related pages...

Equestrian Life

from racing to show jumping

Billy Marsh

Frankie Vaughan

Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

Screenshots of Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

Terry Biddlecombe autobiography

Terry Biddlecombe recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his autobiography, Winner's Disclosure...

When I woke up the next morning the world had gone - vanished. I mooned about the place, doing the horses and not really thinking very clearly. With Bridget heavily pregnant, I was kept pretty busy but the sense of anticlimax was dreadful.


The racing fraternity had seen to it that my final goodbyes had not been said at Cheltenham for on 25 March the World Sporting Club invited me to be Guest of Honour at a Grand Dinner and Boxing Evening at Grosvenor House, to mark my retirement.


What an evening that was! Chaired by Lord Oaksey, who said so many nice things about me that I almost regretted the occasions I had ribbed him on the racecourse, I was presented with a superb onyx-based chandelier on behalf of the Directors of the World Sporting Club.


It is at this point that I should like to pay tribute to the late Jack Solomons who did so much for racing. Evenings such as this one were frequently laid on by him for jockeys who had won big races, or become champions, and they were all at his own expense. He was a great old friend, much missed by those of us in racing who appreciated his generosity, and also by the boxing fraternity. Jack loved his boxers.


On 16 April 1974 I attended a luncheon in Birmingham for the presentation of the Midlands Sportsmen of the Year Awards. I drove up with Bill Smith, and Ken White acted as chauffeur to Fred Rimell, who was to receive an award also. We all had a very good time, and Bill and I drove back, feeling very merry, to Corse Lawn.


It was a great afternoon and we decided to back a pony that Bridget had bred. We tacked it up, Bill got into the saddle and the pony bucked him off. It galloped all over the place, breaking the tack, and Bridget was furious. When we got back to the house she told us that we were not going to have any dinner that night and, feeling like two naughty schoolboys, we went off to have a few jars and a Chinese meal in Tewkesbury. When we returned the house was quiet, Bridget and Laura were asleep, and we slunk off to bed. The next morning I felt a bit guilty, and to make amends I decided to chain harrow the two paddocks close to the house. I was not feeling very well after our night out and had just finished the harrowing when Bridget called out to me that I had to catch a train to London. I suddenly remembered a telephone call from the BBC some weeks before when I had been asked to take part in a weight-watching programme entitled 'Fit not Fat'. I had accepted a fee with expenses, but had forgotten all about it until this moment.


When I went into the house, I noticed my clothes laid out neatly on the bed, with a matching tie. Bridget had never done this for me in her life, and after the previous day's misdemeanours, it was even more puzzling. Anyway, I changed, caught the train to London, and met the BBC representative and an attractive model, as had been arranged, at the Hilton Hotel. I was told that I could eat and drink as much as I liked before going to the Savoy Baths to see how much I could lose, before returning for another tuck-in at the hotel. I thought this was a splendid idea and proceeded to eat everything in sight accompanied by plenty of champagne and several Gaelic coffees, with a secretary making a note of everything I ate and drank before we set off for the baths.


The BBC cameramen and producers waiting to film my slimming feat at the baths were all rushing about when we arrived, worrying that the condensation would harm the cameras, and were generally agitated. As soon as the main producer saw me he said, 'Right, come on through here would you, please?' indicating the hot room.


'No,' I replied, firmly, 'we've got to do the job properly, I must go into the steam room first,' which I did, for twenty minutes. They looked very taken aback, but I knew how to waste better than most people and I sat in the steam room feeling really good. When I came out, I was almost rushed into the hot room where I saw four figures with towels over their heads. I said to one of the cameramen nearby, 'What are these bloody fools doing?' and, with that, one of them unwrapped himself and I recognised Eamonn Andrews, clutching a microphone in one hand and a large, red book in the other.

Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

'Terry Biddlecombe, This is Your Life!' he announced looking very flushed. I had been conned into the baths by his team! When the other figures removed the towels from their heads I saw the grinning faces of Scudamore, Macer Gifford and Tim Brookshaw. They were all feeling the heat, especially Eamonn. They had not bargained on my going in the steam room first, and had been forced to wait in the hot room for about half an hour longer than they had anticipated, which I thought was very funny.


After the initial surprise, I said to Michael, 'If I had seen your fucking feet first, I would have known something was up.' Michael was renowned for his peculiar feet, and they could not have belonged to anyone else!


After the initial niceties, Eamonn Andrews said frantically, 'I've got to get out of here, what do I do now?'


'Jump in the cold plunge,' I suggested, which was nothing new to me. It nearly killed Eamonn because the water was freezing, and he was no sooner in than he was out again - gasping!


Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

Terry Biddlecombe This Is Your Life

It was a great evening, and the family had kept the secret for months. When we returned to the studio, Bridget appeared, looking very smug, and I knew then why my clothes had been so carefully laid out! It was a marvellous reunion with the family and old friends: Mother and Dad, Tony, Doc Wilson, Dave Dick, Fred Winter, Fred Rimell, Bob Davies and Sue, Josh Gifford, Pat Taaffe, Joe Ballinger, and a greeting from Frankie Vaughan, who was in Canada at that time, reminding me of our first meeting in the Turkish baths in Torquay.


To crown it all I had a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, wishing me well for the future, which was presented to me by Sir Martin Gilliatt. [Bigredbook.info editor: Sir Martin Gilliatt does not appear on the programme - the letter was read out by Eamonn Andrews]

Series 14 subjects

Jim Dale | Vic Feather | Hayley Mills | Pete Murray | George Sewell | David Nixon | Robert Dougall | Deryck Guyler
Derek Dougan | William Coles | Jimmy Jewel | John Alderton | Patrick Moore | Sam Kydd | John Dankworth
Gordon Ostlere (Richard Gordon) | Lionel Blair | Sheila Scott | Roy Dotrice | Barry Briggs | Christopher Lee
Beryl Grey | Terry Biddlecombe | Don Revie | Robert Morley | David Hemery | Eamonn Andrews