The life of Eamonn Andrews, ABC’s biggest star.
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.
He was born in 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. He began hosting the game show What’s My Line? in 1951.
Throughout the 1950s, he commentated on the major British heavyweight fights on the BBC Light Programme, with inter-round summaries by W. 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. The song later reappeared on Kenny Everett’s compilation album The World’s Worst Record Show, which was released in June 1978.
<iframe width=”960″ height=”720″ src=”https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Ook92o2XwcY?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Between 1955 and 1964, he presented the long-running Sports Report on BBC’s Light Programme. In 1965, he left the BBC to join the ITV contractor ABC, where he pioneered the talk show format in the UK. He hosted a chat show on ITV, The Eamonn Andrews Show for five years. He was known 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. In the 1960s he presented Thames Television’s Today news magazine programme.
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. 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.
His contribution to UK radio is commemorated in the The Radio Academy Hall of Fame. Andrews appeared as the linking narrator who introduces the unrelated segments that comprise the portmanteau film, Three Cases of Murder (1955).