Tony JACKLIN OBE (1944-)

Tony Jacklin This Is Your Life

programme details...

  • Edition No: 269
  • Subject No: 271
  • Broadcast date: Wed 18 Feb 1970
  • Broadcast time: 7.00-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Tue 17 Feb 1970
  • Venue: Euston Road Studios
  • Series: 10
  • Edition: 13

on the guest list...

  • Vivien - wife
  • Jimmy Tarbuck
  • Arthur - father
  • Doris - mother
  • Lynn - sister
  • Evelyn Grass
  • Eric Kemp
  • Bill Shankland
  • Alan Williamson
  • Eric Brown
  • Willie Hilton
  • Bert Yancey
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Jack Nicklaus
  • John B Rubens

production team...

  • names above in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
related page...

World of Sport

serving up tennis and golf

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Screenshots of Tony Jacklin This Is Your Life

Tony Jacklin's autobiography

Tony Jacklin recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in his book, My Ryder Cup Journey...

I've been privileged to meet quite a few extraordinary people in my life and some of the best moments have arrived in the company of royals. My first invitation to Buckingham Palace came in 1970 when I received an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen following my Open victory at Royal Lytham the previous year.

It was something of a double whammy that day because no sooner had the ceremony ended, and my late wife Viv and I were walking through the gates, that we were confronted by Eamonn Andrews holding his famous red book.

I was to be the subject of Eamonn's This Is Your Life TV show. Talk about a shock. After all, I was just twenty-five and so young - what sort of 'life' had I experienced by that age?

We were whisked off to the studio. Bill Shankland, the guy I worked under as a teenager at Potters Bar, was among the guests, some of my old schoolteachers, too. It was a surreal occasion and not something I had ever contemplated happening.

My mum and dad were there, Jimmy Tarbuck, and my great American golf friend, Bert Yancey. I was disappointed, though, by the absence of Fred and Maisie Baker, who put me up when I got the job at Potters Bar and were two people close to my heart. They took me in for a week, initially, in January 1962 and I felt so comfortable in their terraced house in Hertfordshire that I ended up staying for seven years.

Even after Viv and I got married in 1966, we always went back to Fred and Maisie's after returning from our golf travels. It was our base; there seemed little point travelling back to Lincolnshire and, if the truth be told, I was barely on speaking terms with my mum. To get along with people, I have to like them. I don't share the belief that blood is thicker than water and my mum tried to run my life for too long.

Maisie was a great cook, she had a young son, we had a good social life in Potters Bar and her house was like a home from home for me, first, and then for Viv too.

The Bakers weren't invited on to This Is Your Life. but it was a very special occasion for Miss Grass, my old schoolteacher. We took her to a London nightclub after the show and burned the midnight oil as a group.

I still have the red book containing my 'life' story that Eamonn handed me after the programme, and it serves as a poignant reminder of a magical day.

Tony Jacklin My Autobiography

Tony Jacklin recalls a similar experience of This Is Your Life in his book, My Autobiography...

Not every aspect of my new world was punishing, however. There was one immediate positive to my move to Potters Bar, and that was the delightful digs I found with Mr and Mrs Baker. She owned a house not too far from the course, and the bottom of her garden backed right up against the main rail line that ran north, a line that also ran right past Potters Bar; the house would rattle and shake as trains rumbled by, but I was quickly used to it and it never bothered me. My rent was to be £3 15s. per week. This included breakfast, meals that alone would have justified the amount I was paying her. When I'd first signed on with Shankland, I naturally felt unsure about my new world; that included a place to stay. Mrs Baker's husband, Fred, caddied at the club during his spare time, and when I arrived he suggested they might be able to take me in for a week. It started out as a temporary arrangement, but I ended up staying there off and on for the next six years! It was my base, my home away from home. I was comfortable with the Bakers, and ever grateful for their kindness and flexibility. Thank God for them; if I'd had a landlady near as hard to deal with as Shanko, I might never have made it out of my teens.

I have fond memories of Mrs Baker. I suppose in some way she was a kind of mother to me in the way that I felt I didn't have back home. I must have wanted a bit of spoiling or something. I'd never been doted upon by my mum, but I was certainly spoiled by Mrs Baker. She was a delightful and kind-hearted woman who always seemed to be wanting to take care of the people around her. It's no surprise that as soon as Vivien and I were married, we stayed with Mrs Baker for a short time, that's how comfortable I was there. (We all have regrets here and there in life, and though I'm not one to dwell on what's lost or hasn't happened, I do wish that she'd been part of the shooting of the This Is Your Life programme, hosted by Eamonn Andrews, that featured me shortly after winning my two Opens. It was a terrific experience, and it surprised the hell out of me – they grabbed me just as I was leaving Buckingham Palace after the Queen had given me the OBE. The problem, though, is that you don't really have any input into how those shows get done – it was primarily my parents who advised them on who to include in the show – and so although it was a wonderful moment, and a really well done show, I wasn't able to say to anyone that Mrs Baker should have been part of it. That would have only been fair, because she was a lovely woman.)

Tony Jacklin's biography

Liz Kahn recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in her book, The Price of Success...

One award that was accorded to Tony in 1970 was the Order of the British Empire. 'I felt good about that. I thought it was nice to get it. But when you are actually getting it, there are so many hundreds of people that it doesn't seem so special any more. I felt maybe I should be getting knighted - there weren't so many of them! The Queen said, "It's a pleasure to give you this, I've watched you on television," and she wished me luck!'

Further recognition came as Tony left Buckingham Palace that day and he found himself the subject of the television programme This Is Your Life although he had nearly gone before they could catch him. Plans had been made through his wife, Vivien: 'I went with Tony and his mother to London for the presentation of the OBE. We stayed at the Savoy Hotel and I made sure that Tony had enough appointments to keep him busy and we could go to a rehearsal for This Is Your Life.'

'Eamonn Andrews told me to bring Tony out through the main gate of Buckingham Palace and he would be waiting there. When we came out, it was raining, and Tony, having got through all his appointments and finished the ceremony in the Palace, wanted to be home and he said, "come on we'll get a cab out the back." I told him we were being met with a car and managed to get him out the front, where Eamonn came up to him.'

'He couldn't believe it. "No, not me," he said; he was about the first young person (he was 26) to be on the programme. They took him off and I didn't see him again until we were on stage. Bert Yancey was flown over from America; Jimmy Tarbuck was there, Bill Shankland from Potters Bar, his caddie Willie Hilton, and many others. It was a lovely gesture.'

Surprise Of Your Life book

Presenter Eamonn Andrews and producer Jack Crawshaw recall this edition of This Is Your Life in their book, Surprise Of Your Life...

You would not need eyes as sharp as a champion golfer's to have noticed a young, fresh-faced character smiling his approval as I surprised Tony Jacklin outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.

You may be surprised to know, however, that it was producer Jack Crawshaw himself, in the days when he was a researcher-writer. Today, having become wiser with age, he maintains the programme's strict security with rules that insist on researchers remaining incognito.

Way back in January 1970, however, he still had the spirit of youth that once inspired him to join me at the first tee of an eighteen-hole golf course with only one ball. That was in the days before promotion to the good life left him with bags under his eyes as big as the bunker his one ball got lost in.

But it wasn't a lost ball I was looking for as Tony Jacklin approached those Palace gates. It was a missing Jack. That I could have coped with, had it not been for the fact that he had The Book.

Between those red covers was a true-to-life boy's adventure story in which Tony Jacklin, the son of a steelworks locomotive driver from Scunthorpe, was the hero.

Tony had followed in his father's footsteps to start his working life as an apprentice lathe turner at the local Appleby Frodingham Steelworks. But his dedication to golf, which he had first learned as a schoolboy playing with cut-down clubs, took him on to a professional career and success against the giants he had once regarded as gods – and probably still does.

At 23, he beat a world-famous field, that included Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, to win the Jacksonville Open in Florida. He returned to Britain a national hero and in 1969 won the British Open before turning in an unbeaten performance in the Ryder Cup, which enabled Britain to share the match with the Americans and achieve their best result in fifteen years.

The result we were hoping to achieve when we turned up outside the Palace Gates was to add our own salute to Tony at the peak of what, at twenty five, had been a brief but remarkable career.

We planned to surprise him the moment he left the Palace after the investiture, but faced the problem of having nowhere to hide. We decided to make a bold stand, set up the cameras in full view and have myself, microphone in hand, waiting in the open. I considered it a good risk. After all, it would be quite natural for Eamonn Andrews to be there in the role of sports commentator to congratulate Britain's new golfing hero.

We had arranged with Tony's wife, Viv, and his mother, Doris, to lead him to a side gate of the Palace. To hold back the surprise we decided, at the last minute, that Jack should stand by my right hand side with The Book hidden behind his back.

His job was to pretend he had never met Viv or Doris before and hand the book to me after I had finished congratulating Tony. But it didn't quite work out as planned.

Crowds had gathered outside the Palace and police were having difficulty holding them back. As Tony approached the side gate, the crowd surged towards him breaking through the police cordon and milling around us.

The police started grabbing them and pushing them back. And I am sure I don't have to tell you who was among the first to find himself on the end of the long arm of the law. As I was just about to step forward to talk to Tony, I saw Jack disappear.

There was nothing I could do. I couldn't shout out for The Book because that would have given the game away. As luck had it, he wasn't bunkered for long and wedged his way out of the crowd to dash across and slip the book into my hand... just in time.

Tony Jacklin This Is Your Life

And Jack wasn't the only one to be just in time that day. Tony's great friend and rival, the American golfer, Bert Yancey, went without a night's sleep after leaving a tournament in Tucson, Arizona, to fly across the Atlantic for the programme. Immediately it was over he had to shake Tony's hand and run straight off the set to take a car to the airport to catch the next plane back to the United States.

Tony, I know, was touched by Bert's gesture of real friendship. And I know that he was similarly moved by the arrival of someone who made a much shorter, but equally important, trip to see him – a sweet and charming lady named Miss Grass.

Miss Grass was Tony's form mistress at Doncaster Road Secondary School, in Scunthorpe, and ten years after he had left, still had a picture of him on display at her home in the Lincolnshire village of Normanby.

But when Jack first visited her with colleague John Stapleton, she had politely declined their invitation to join us on the programme, saying that she was too shy to make what would be her first ever television appearance.

Happily for us, she changed her mind, travelled with Tony's father, Arthur, to London, and made an entrance that, for someone who had professed stage fright, would have done justice to one of our grand dames of the theatre. In a clear, unfaltering voice, she told us how, after becoming world famous, Tony had taken his new wife Viv to see her at home. He had amazed her by reciting a poem he had learned at school. The reason he had remembered it so well was – as he reminded her – because, all those years before, she had made the future champion stay in after school to learn it word for word.

After the programme and our own party, Tony took Miss Grass with his family and friends for a night out on the town. And I know she won't mind me telling you that the shy Miss Grass from Normanby, Lincs., looked every bit the star of the party as she sat alongside her former pupil in a West End nightclub and applauded the cabaret, her silver grey hair hidden by a paper hat that was a replica of the helmets worn by the policemen outside Buckingham Palace that morning.

Roy Bottomley This Is Your Life book

Scriptwriter Roy Bottomley recalls this edition of This Is Your Life in his book, This Is Your Life: The Story of Television's Famous Big Red Book...

Tony we surprised outside Buckingham Palace in February 1970. In the wake of winning both the American and British Open Championships he had just received an OBE from HM the Queen.

He was the first Briton to win the British Open in eighteen years. In America, the former Scunthorpe apprentice steelworker had beaten greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer to win the US Open in Jacksonville, Florida.

Series 10 subjects

Des O'Connor | Bobby Charlton | Harry Driver | Twiggy | Honor Blackman | The Beverley Sisters | John Fairfax | Henry Cooper
Jackie Stewart | Jimmy Savile | Arthur Dooley | Wendy Craig | Tony Jacklin | Charlie Cairoli | Richard Evans | Alfie Bass
Jack Good | Joe Mercer | Ronnie Corbett | Colin Milburn | Frankie Vaughan | Lorna Ridgway | Val Doonican
Johnny Speight | Reg Varney | Harold French