Venues and Sets

This Is Your Life titles

related pages...

Behind the Scenes

the programme's best kept secrets


Titles and Music

the iconic titles and theme tunes


The Audience

the applause, laughter and tears


Timeline

the show's fifty year history


Royalty plans future as opera-dance venue in Thames TV tie-up

A feature on This Is Your Life's new home!


The BBC Years: 1955-1964


With the exception of the programme's second series, and the occasional outside broadcast, the programme's original nine year run is produced from the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd's Bush, west London.



BBC Television Theatre

The BBC Television Theatre photographed in 1955 - the year This Is Your Life first broadcast on British television.

Built in 1903 as a music hall, the venue was originally known as the Shepherd's Bush Empire and was designed by the renowned theatre architect Frank Matcham.


It was purchased by the BBC in 1953 and converted into a television studio-theatre, becoming the home of shows such as Crackerjack, Hancock’s Half Hour, The Generation Game, The Basil Brush Show and Juke Box Jury.


The King's Theatre in nearby Hammersmith is used for the programme's second series.

The sets are reminiscent of a fashionable living room of the day, with minimal, sturdy looking furniture, floral decorations, standard lamps and pot plants.


Guests appear from behind curtains, then leave the set after paying their tribute, to return as a group at the end of the programme as the credits roll.


Television monitors - later replaced by large screens - are used to relay messages from those guests unable to attend in person, and to display captions and graphics designed to help tell the story.



Bella Burge This Is Your Life

Boxing promoter Bella Burge with Eamonn Andrews on This Is Your Life in 1958



Occasionally the set would be specially dressed in a way appropriate to that week's subject - such as a library for writer Compton Mackenzie, an old BBC radio studio for broadcaster Stuart Hibberd, and a circus ring for Coco the Clown.



Compton Mackenzie This Is Your Life

Writer Compton Mackenzie with Eamonn Andrews and guests on This Is Your Life in 1956



The only credit for set design seen from this period appears on the very first show - when Eamonn Andrews was surprised by Ralph Edwards - and is given to:


Barry Learoyd: A prolific production designer who worked on many early BBC dramas, including adaptations of Shakespeare plays throughout the 1950s, as well as the classic Sunday Night Theatre series and later the anthology show Out Of The Unknown.

The Thames Years: 1969-1988


The Euston Road Studios, located next to London's Euston Tower, were purpose built for Thames Television in 1969, and the company use the larger of it’s studios - Studio 5 - for This Is Your Life for nine years between 1969 and 1978.



Thames Television House

This Is Your Life was broadcast from Thames Television House on London's Euston Road between 1969 and 1978.

The building, known as Thames Television House, became the home of the company's current affairs, local news, schools and religious programming, and housed most of the administration and sales personnel.


The This Is Your Life production team have offices in the Euston Road building.


Eamonn Andrews presents Thames Television’s London news magazine programme Today four nights a week from the studio complex between 1968-1977.


The studios closed at the end of 1992 when the Thames franchise ended. The building was obtained for redevelopment in 1994, and demolished in 1996.


There were two main studios, the largest of which, Studio 5 - 59 x 30 feet wall to wall and an audience capacity of 100 - was used for This Is Your Life.


However, the studio isn’t very large, and the brightly coloured, intimate, early sets often look cramped with the use of cloth covered round tables.


It isn’t unusual for guests to smoke and drink on the shows in the early 1970s.


The BBC curtains are replaced by the (sometimes sliding) doors which open on cue, usually to a fanfare, to reveal the surprise guest.


Unlike the BBC period, guests would now stay on the set after delivering their tribute.


Many early Thames shows are broadcast live so pick-ups often take place in the studio foyer or near-by on Euston Road.



Bob Hope This Is Your Life

Eamonn Andrews surprises Bob Hope in Studio 5 of Thames Television's Euston Road Studios in November 1970



Names credited for set design at the Thames Television studios include:


Tony Borer

Nevil Dickin

Graham Guest

Alex MacIntyre

Sylva Nadolny

Jim Nicholson

Jack Robinson

Gordon Toms

For just two series, between 1978 and 1980, the New London Theatre, with its large stage and auditorium, creates a greater sense of occasion.



New London Theatre

The New London Theatre is the base for This Is Your Life for just two series

Situated on Drury Lane and built in 1972, this modern theatre has a flexible seating arrangement and a maximum capacity of over 900.


However, the use of the theatre is short lived due to the musical production Cats taking up residency in 1980.


Subjects are ushered in by Eamonn Andrews through the audience.



Dinah Sheridan This Is Your Life

Eamonn Andrews leads the actress Dinah Sheridan through the audience of the New London Theatre in March 1979



Names credited for set design at the Thames Television studios include:


Lewis Logan

Graham Probst

John White

The Royalty Theatre in Holborn becomes home to This Is Your Life for six years from 1980.



The Peacock Theatre

The Peacock Theatre - formerly The Royalty Theatre - on Portugal Street, off London's Kingsway is home to This Is Your Life between 1980 and 1986

A theatre has stood on the site since the 17th century, but the current building was built in 1960 and is located on the ground level of an office block. It was initially used as a cinema, screening Cinerama films.


Purchased by the London School of Economics and renamed the Peacock Theatre, the 1000 seat house is now used by the LSO for lectures, public talks, conferences and open days. The university has a long lease with London's principal centre for contemporary dance, Sadler’s Wells, whopresent many of their productions at the venue.


A similar size theatre to the New London, the Royalty provides a larger set - which means more guests!


Once again, Eamonn Andrews would usher the subjects through the audience, and up the steps on to the stage.



Julie Goodyear This Is Your Life

Eamonn Andrews leads the Coronation Street actress Julie Goodyear through the audience of the Royalty Theatre in October 1980



Series 27 and the shortened series 28 make use of the Thames Television studios at Teddington in south west London.


The sets used in these series have two entrances from which guests can appear - the traditional doorway and a side entrance adjacent to the big screen.


Names credited for set design during this period include:


Graham Guest

Peter Joyce

Jane Krall

George Lack

Jack McAdam

Jim Nicholson

David Richens

Jack Robinson

This Is Your Life series 21 set   This Is Your Life series 22 set
Series 21: 1980-81   Series 22/23: 1981-83
     
This Is Your Life series 24 set   This Is Your Life series set
Series 24/25: 1983-85   Series 26: 1985-86
     
This Is Your Life series 27 set   This Is Your Life series 28 set
Series 27: 1986-87   Series 28: 1987-88

The Thames Years: 1988-1994


Thames Television's studios at Teddington in south west London is the base for the new look This Is Your Life from 1988 to 1994.


Thames Television Studios, Teddington

The site of Teddington Studios has been associated with film production since the 1910s

There have been studios on the banks of the River Thames at Teddington Lock, Middlesex since the 1910s. The film studios which existed from that time were bought by Warners Brothers in 1931 to produce ‘quota quickies’.


Devastated by a bomb in 1944, the studios were re-opened by Danny Kaye in 1948. ABC bought the studios in 1958 to use for television production.


Thames Television was created by a merger of Rediffusion and ABC in 1968, and until 1992 used Teddington as the main production centre for such comedy and light entertainment shows as: The Tommy Cooper Show, Morecambe and Wise, Opportunity Knocks, George and Mildred and The Benny Hill Show.


The sliding doors disappear for several series.


The subject’s photo is displayed on a big screen on which, as in the original BBC series, messages are relayed from guests unable to attend the recording.


Names credited for set design during this period include:


Harry Clark

Jack McAdam

Jane Moorfoot

The BBC Years: 1994-2003


Although still produced by Thames Television - which is now an independant production company owned by Pearson Television - the show is broadcast by the BBC.


Various studios are used over the final nine series of the programme's run, including Teddington, BBC Television Centre, ITV’s London Studios on the Southbank and Fountain Studios in Wembley.



BBC Television Centre

BBC Television Centre - officially opened in June 1960, the centre in White City, west London is the headquarters of BBC Television until 2013.

The London Studios

The London Studios - a studio complex situated on the South Bank and originally bulit for London Weekend Television in 1972. The studios closed in 2018.

Fountain Studios

Fountain Studios - an independently owned studio complex in Wembley, which was formerly the base for ITV contractors Rediffusion and London Weekend Television. The studios closed in 2016.

The sets are now bigger than ever, as sofas replace individual chairs for guests.


The sliding doors return to become part of the design of the final two series.


Production designers at the BBC include:


Harry Clark

Martin Collins

Simon Jago