Titles and Music

This Is Your Life sheet music

related pages...

Behind the Scenes

the programme's best kept secrets

Venues and Sets

the studio look and locations

The Audience

the applause, laughter and tears


the show's fifty year history

New Lease of Life

the programme's relaunch

Jean Boht

Jimmy Cricket

Carl Davis

Ted Heath

Stephen Hendry

Matt Monro

Des O'Connor

Claire Sweeney

The BBC Years: 1955-1964

During the programme's original nine-year run, the BBC experimented with various opening titles, including cloudscapes, book spines and plain black backgrounds.

This Is Your Life James Turner credit

Although several variations of music were used over the early period of This Is Your Life, James Turner composed the original theme music

Click above to hear the opening and closing theme tunes composed by James Turner

James Turner provided the theme tunes for various television programmes during the 1950s and composed several film scores.

Other names credited with arranging or orchestrating the music used on This Is Your Life during the early BBC period were:

Eric Robinson: Conductor who joined the BBC at 23 as a violinist before becoming an original member of the BBC Television Orchestra

George Clouston: Prolific conductor on many BBC television shows of the 1950s and 1960s

Alan Bristow: Orchestrator and arranger at the BBC during the 1950s and 1960s

Ted Heath: The most famous and successful Big Band leader in the UK for over three decades, who was himself a subject of This Is Your Life in 1959

As well as the opening and closing themes, This Is Your Life used music during the programme, particularly a fanfare played as surprise guests revealed themselves from behind a curtain or later sliding doors.

During the early BBC period, the music that accompanied the arrival of guests would often change to reflect the nature of the life story being told. For instance, a heroic or inspiring story would use dramatic fanfare. In contrast, a lively, upbeat piece would be used for a more light-hearted story.

From 1969 onwards, the fanfare used remained consistent, with just a slight variation introduced in 1994.

Click above to hear a selection of fanfares used on This Is Your Life

The Thames Years: 1969-1988

This Is Your Life was revived by Thames Television in 1969 and, for the first time, was produced in colour - except for several editions broadcast in 1970, which were shown in black and white due to a technicians' strike.

Following a brief experimentation with a blue background, the now familiar title captions were introduced during the second Thames series, springing out of the screen to the beat of the equally familiar theme tune, Gala Performance, composed by Laurie Johnson.

This style of opening titles remained unchanged for 18 years - with a slight deviation in 1980-81 when the four famous words in white zoom towards the camera as a leaping quartet.

Laurie Johnson

The theme tune for the revived version of This Is Your Life was titled Gala Performance and composed by Laurie Johnson in 1969

Laurie Johnson, who was born in Hampstead, London, in 1927, and studied at the Royal College of Music, was a composer and bandleader who wrote scores for dozens of film and television series and was one of the most highly regarded arrangers of instrumental pop and swing music.

His film scores include The Good Companions, The Moonraker, Tiger Bay and Dr Strangelove. While his themes for television include Whicker's World, Animal Magic, World In Action, Thriller and The Avengers.

This Is Your Life: Gala Performance score

Click above to hear Gala Performance composed by Laurie Johnson

Interestingly, no known credit is given for Laurie Johnson on screen until 1994.

A compilation of memorable moments from This Is Your Life, which includes examples of opening titles and theme music

The Guardian newspaper article: This Is Your Life theme tune

The Guardian 10 August 2002

Theme perks

Peter Kay was the kid who would never switch off the TV and go out to play. He was addicted to the box at the age of three - and it was the signature tunes that got him hooked...

This Is Your Life is a really great theme. It's the best programme in the world really.

There's suspense, surprise, tears - it's all there in the theme. It will never die. It will always be on, always. Everyone flicks it on and says, "Just see whose life it is" or, if it's someone really young, "What life has she had?" They did Claire Sweeney the other week and God love her but what life's she had?

Stephen Hendry? He's only 12! I once went to Jimmy Cricket's house in Rochdale and he's got his This Is Your Life book suspended inside a huge glass coffee table, the big red book hovering in mid-air - it's incredible. He's a lovely man Jimmy. Smashing bloke.

The Thames Years: 1988-1994

A new presenter in 1988 prompted a relaunch of the programme with glittering new titles and a new variation on the theme tune, specially arranged by composer and former This Is Your Life subject, Carl Davis.

This Is Your Life Carl Davis

Carl Davis was a subject of This Is Your Life in October 1986, when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews on a boat on the River Thames outside Teddington Studios

Carl Davis, who was born in New York City in 1936, made his home in the United Kingdom in 1961, and later married the English actress and This Is Your Life subject, Jean Boht.

Carl wrote music for over 100 television programmes, including The Naked Civil Servant, World at War and Pride and Prejudice. However, he is best known for creating music to accompany restored silent films, such as Napoleon, Ben-Hur, City Lights, Greed and Flesh and the Devil.

Click above to hear the opening and closing themes composed by Carl Davis

The BBC Years: 1994-2003

Further variations of titles and music were introduced when This Is Your Life returned to the BBC in 1994.

From series 37, the titles no longer opened the programme but were first seen superimposed over a shot of the studio set following the 'pick-up'.

This format continued until the final series reverted to opening each show with the This is Your Life titles.

This Is Your Life Laurie Johnson credit

The first ever credit for the Gala Performance theme music appeared in 1994

The musical arranger for the 1994 variation was Colin Keyes, a well-respected orchestrator and pianist who had worked extensively with Matt Monro, Bruce Forsyth and Des O'Connor.

Click above to hear the opening and closing themes composed by Colin Keyes

A final variation of the theme tune was introduced in series 39. The arranger this time was Luis Jardim, a Portuguese percussionist best known for his work with producer Trevor Horn whose work spanned music composition, production, arrangements and studio work.

Click above to hear the opening and closing themes composed by Luis Jardim