19 December 1922|
|Died||5 November 1987
London, England, UK
Cause of death
|Occupation||Television and radio presenter|
|Spouse(s)||Gráinne Bourke † (m. 1951-1987; his death); 3 children|
|Children||3 adopted children|
|Relatives||Noel Andrews (brother)|
Eamonn Andrews, CBE (19 December 1922 – 5 November 1987), was an Irish radio and television presenter, based mostly in the United Kingdom from the 1950s. From 1960 to 1964, he chaired the Radio Éireann Authority (now the RTÉ Authority), responsible for the introduction of state television to Ireland.
Life and career
Andrews was born on Synge Street, Dublin, and educated at Synge Street CBS. He began his career as a clerk in an insurance office. He was a keen amateur boxer and won the Irish junior middleweight title in 1944.
In 1946, he became a full-time freelance sports commentator, working for Radio Éireann, Ireland's national broadcaster. In 1950, he began presenting programmes for the BBC, being particularly well known for boxing commentaries, and soon became one of television's most popular presenters.
In 1955, Andrews made a brief appearance on celluloid, appearing on camera as the narrator who introduces the unrelated segments that comprise the portmanteau film, Three Cases of Murder. Throughout the 1950s, he commentated on the major British heavyweight fights on the BBC Light Programme, with inter-round summaries by J. Barrington Dalby. On 20 January 1956, he reached #18 in the UK Singles Chart with a "spoken narrative" recording named "The Shifting Whispering Sands (Parts 1 & 2)", which was produced by George Martin with musical backing by the Ron Goodwin Orchestra, released by Parlophone as catalogue number R 4106, a double-sided 78rpm record.
Series with which he was associated included:
- What's My Line? (1951–63 and 1984–87)
- This Is Your Life (1955–64 and 1969–87)
- World of Sport (1965–68)
- Crackerjack and Playbox (children's series)
- Whose Baby? (a panel game he created and owned)
- Top Of The World (TV series) (1982)
He chaired the Radio Éireann Authority (now the RTÉ Authority) between 1960 and 1964, overseeing the introduction of State television to Ireland and establishing the Irish State broadcaster as an independent semi-state body. About this time, he also acquired a number of business interests in Ireland, including recording studios and a dance hall.
Between 1955 and 1964, he also presented the long-running Sports Report on BBC's Light Programme (now Radio 2). In 1965, he left the BBC to join Associated British Corporation, where he pioneered the talk show format in the UK. He hosted a chat show on ITV, The Eamonn Andrews Show. He was famous for coming up with off-the-cuff linkings that did not work – such as: "Speaking of cheese sandwiches, have you come far?" This was parodied by the character Seamus Android on Round the Horne in the 1960s, performed by Bill Pertwee.
His contribution to UK radio is commemorated in the The Radio Academy Hall of Fame
He began hosting the game show What's My Line? in 1951. He was likely best known as the presenter of the UK's version of This Is Your Life, between its inception in 1955 and his death in 1987, when he was succeeded by Michael Aspel (who had also succeeded Andrews as host of Crackerjack more than two decades earlier). Andrews became the very first This Is Your Life subject on British television when he was surprised by the show’s creator, Ralph Edwards. Andrews also created a long-running panel game called Whose Baby? that originally ran on the BBC and later on ITV. He was a regular presenter of the early Miss World pageants.
After months of illness, originally caused by a virus contracted during a plane journey (but which was not recognised at the time), he died from heart failure on 5 November 1987, aged 64, at Cromwell Hospital, London. He had recorded his last edition of This Is Your Life six days previously on 30 October 1987, surprising Crossroads actress Jane Rossington. After his death, the show, and two others that had yet to be broadcast, were postponed until, with his widow's permission, they were broadcast in January 1988. His widow, Gráinne, whom he married in 1951, died 18 months later. They had three adopted children.
In popular culture
- The British progressive jazz-rock group Soft Machine have performed and recorded an instrumental composition named for Andrews. It was written by their keyboardist Mike Ratledge and appears on numerous releases.
- Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 5. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Ltd. p. 24. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "The Eamonn Andrews Show (1964–1969)", IMDb.
- Eamonn Andrews at the Internet Movie Database
- Interview with daughters of Andrews, broadcast on RTE1, 23 June 2012.
- Eamonn Andrews at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Eamonn Andrews first appearance on This Is Your Life'
- Andrews pictured as stock-car racing commentator in 1955