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This Is Your Life set for resuscitation?

Broadcasting

This Is Your Life set for resuscitation?

Newspaper reports suggest the show that has aired on both the BBC and ITV may be set for another comeback…

This is Your Life might be heading back to TV screens as a series after an absence of seventeen years. ITV currently have their modern spin on it with Life Stories, however, The Sun reports the format might be making a comeback in its original format. The UK series is based on the radio and television programme which originated in America on NBC. Launched here by the BBC in 1955 the show was hosted by popular Irish broadcaster Eamonn Andrews who was also the host of his own chat show, quiz show What’s My Line and children’s show Crackerjack.

The biographical television documentary sees a guest surprised with a ‘big red book’ and invited to reflect on their life with a host of family, friends and colleagues. Unlike Life Stories, which allows the celebrated figure to chat, This Is Your Life is all about recollections from the several guests who turn up to talk about the star of the night.

This Is Your Life: 1980 Eamonn surprises Michael / Thames/ITV

The show itself has had quite a broadcast life. It was axed by the BBC in 1964 and then revived in 1969 over on ITV by Thames Television. Eamonn resumed his role as host and remained with the programme until his death in 1987. The very first to be surprised on the UK series was Eamonn Andrews himself who was given the surprise by the stateside host Ralph Edwards. The final person to be featured on the original Beeb run was a nurse, Mary Hawkins.

The first subject for the ITV run was entertainer Des O’Connor. Eamonn’s final show featured actress Jane Rossington of Emergency Ward 10, The Archers and Crossroads fame.

“When I heard Eamonn was dead I just burst into tears. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. If my show with him had been recorded a long time ago it might have been easier to take in. But for him to die so suddenly, so quickly after our unforgettable show together, was more than I could bear.” –  Jane Rossington speaking to The Sun about the sudden death of Eamonn in November 1987

Staying with ITV the show returned in 1988 with Michael Aspel – who had previously been one of the stars of the show – taking over as host. In 1994 the BBC lured back This Is Your Life with Thames now producing the series for the Beeb, which would run until 2003. Michael’s first ITV star was American actor Mickey Rooney while his first BBC guest was Andrew Lloyd Webber. Michael’s final subject was dancer Pat Kirkwood for the ITV run while singer and presenter Aled Jones closed the final BBC run.

This Is Your Host: Michael Aspel was host from 1988 to 2003 and Eamonn Andrews from 1955 to 1964 and again from 1969 to 1987

In 2007 a pilot for a new series was hosted by Sir Trevor McDonald with the star X Factor mogul Simon Cowell. Only this edition was produced. Names mooted to host the 2024 revival are current Life Stories host Kate Garraway, Antiques Roadshow anchor Fiona Bruce and Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Ried.

The show has also been fictionalised in drama. Series eight of the television detective series Endeavour sees the fictional Jack Swift, a celebrity footballer, surprised by Eamonn Andrews and becomes the subject of This Is Your Life after attending a fashion show in Oxford. In Endeavor Andrews is played by Lewis Macleod. Also, in Nolly, the three-part drama about television pioneer and West End stage star Noele Gordon, a brief scene recreating her real TIYL is shown with Noele (Helena Bonham Carter) and Larry Grayson (Mark Gatiss). In this, Eamonn is played by an uncredited actor.

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