Katie Boyle

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Katie Boyle
Born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali di Francavilla
(1926-05-29) 29 May 1926 (age 91)
Florence, Italy
Nationality British
Occupation Actress, presenter, writer
Known for What's My Line?,
Eurovision Song Contest

Katie Boyle, Lady Saunders (born Caterina Irene Elena Maria Imperiali di Francavilla; 29 May 1926) is an Italian-born British actress, television personality, and game-show panelist, well known for appearing on TV panel games such as What's My Line? and for presenting the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1960s and 1970s. She was once an agony aunt, answering problems that had been posted to the TV Times by readers.

Early life and career[edit]

She was born in Florence, Italy, the daughter of an Italian marquis (the Marchese Demetrio Imperiali di Francavilla), and his English wife, Dorothy Kate Ramsden. She came to Great Britain in 1946 and started a modelling career, which included work for such publications as Vogue. She also appeared in several 1950s films, the first being Old Mother Riley, Headmistress (1950) in which she was billed as Catherine Carleton,[1] followed by I'll Never Forget You (uncredited, 1951), Not Wanted on Voyage (1957), The Truth About Women (also 1957), Intent to Kill (1958) with Richard Todd, and The Diary of Major Thompson (1955) with Jack Buchanan, filmed in France by Preston Sturges.[2]

Boyle was an on-screen continuity announcer for the BBC in the 1950s. A decade later she became a television personality, regularly appearing on panel games and programmes such as What's My Line? and Juke Box Jury. In 1968 she appeared alongside comedian Lance Percival in the fledgling Thames Television's panel quiz game of medical knowledge, Lance That Boyle. The show was cancelled after only three episodes.[3] She was the presenter for the 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1974 Eurovision Song Contests, all of which were hosted in the UK. According to author and historian John Kennedy O'Connor's The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History, Boyle hosted the 1974 contest wearing no underwear; it had been cut off from under her satin dress moments before the broadcast began.[4] She also hosted the UK qualifying heat, A Song for Europe, in 1961.[citation needed] In the 1960s she appeared in a long-running series of television advertisements for Camay soap.[5][6]

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1982, when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. That same year she played herself in the BBC radio play The Competition, which told the story of a fictitious international song contest being staged in Bridlington. Boyle was guest of honour at the Eurovision fan club conventions staged in 1988 and 1992. She appeared at the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest held in Birmingham as a special guest of the BBC. Her other work has included theatre, television (What's Up Dog?) and radio (Katie and Friends). In 2004 Boyle was a guest on a special Eurovision-themed celebrity version of The Weakest Link on BBC1, hosted by Anne Robinson.[citation needed] Boyle became the first, and to date the only, contestant ever to vote herself off the programme. [clarification needed]

Private life[edit]

In 1947 she married Richard Bentinck Boyle, 9th Earl of Shannon; the marriage was dissolved in 1955 but she kept his surname (Boyle). Later that year she married Greville Baylis, a racehorse owner, who died in 1976. In 1979 she married theatre impresario Sir Peter Saunders, who died in 2003. In Queen Elizabeth II: A Woman Who Is Not Amused by Nicholas Davies, it is alleged Boyle had a long-standing relationship with Prince Philip in the 1950s.[7] Boyle told Gyles Brandreth: "It's ludicrous, pure fabrication. When it appears in print, people believe it. You can't take legal action because it fans the flames, so you just have to accept people telling complete lies about you".[8]

Selected filmography[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Old Mother Riley". Picasaweb.google.co.uk. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  2. ^ Boyle, Katie, What This Katie Did: An Autobiography.Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1st edition (9 October 1980); ISBN 978-0-297-77814-1.
  3. ^ Turow, J. (2010), Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling, and Medical Power]], University of Michigan Press, 978-0472034277, page 296.
  4. ^ O'Connor, John Kennedy. The Eurovision Song Contest - The Official History. Carlton Books, UK. 2007; ISBN 978-1-84442-994-3
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ Davies, Nicholas. Queen Elizabeth II: A Woman Who Is Not Amused. A Birch Lane Press Book; ISBN 1-55972-217-7
  8. ^ Brandreth, Gyles (5 September 2004). "Portrait of a marriage". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 

External links[edit]


She has also written three books:

  • Dear Katie - tips from her days as agony aunt for TV Times, 1975
  • What This Katie Did - autobiography, 1980
  • Battersea Tales - stories of rescues from the Battersea Dogs Home, 1997
Preceded by
France Jacqueline Joubert
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
Succeeded by
France Jacqueline Joubert
Preceded by
Luxembourg Mireille Delannoy
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
Succeeded by
Denmark Lotte Wæver
Preceded by
Austria Erica Vaal
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
Succeeded by
Spain Laurita Valenzuela
Preceded by
Luxembourg Helga Guitton
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
Succeeded by
Sweden Karin Falck