Eamonn Andrews calling…


Look Westward magazine profiles Eamonn Andrews and previews his new Saturday night chat show in 1964

Eamonn Andrews – he was at work in the studio when the “baby” message arrived

The man behind the
TV legend – by

You know Eamonn Andrews as a star of the television screen… the man with the well-known face and voice. But Eamonn has other loves beside audiences.

From Look Westward for 4-10 October 1964

Those other loves are called Grainne and Emma — his wife and daughter.

On your television screen, he is very much in control. Smoothly efficient and never the man to get flustered. Off screen, he likes to relax in his home — for he believes a home should look lived-in.

Eamonn was born in Synge Street, the same Dublin street which bred George Bernard Shaw. He was the eldest of five sons in a desperately poor family.

He knew the difficulties of shrinking housekeeping money, of parents who were often in fear of running into debt and he ran errands and bought what bits he could to help his mother out.

One day, he used to tell himself, I shall have a home of my own. He has it now. It stands at Chiswick, and the Thames flows past the bottom of the garden. Grainne planned all the decorations, a white home, with pale yellow shutters buttoned back from windows draped with fragile curtains.

Inside, there are close-fitting saxe-blue carpets everywhere, and rose-red chairs. The lamps — empire pattern and gilded — have the same rose-red shades and there is the warmth of real friendliness about the place. There are enchanting mirror-lined niches in which the most fascinating indoor plants stand.

Mrs. Eamonn Andrews. She was Miss Grainne Bourke before marrying Eamonn in 1951

They both adore flowers and their garden is a picture. Grainne confesses that she used to paint flowers, and will again when she has the time. You can see, as soon as you step inside, that this house is the home of lovers.

Eamonn met Grainne at the Theatre Royal in Dublin. It was, he says, love at first sight, though it took him two years to pop tne question.

Theirs was a dream wedding, with a glorious procession of bridesmaids carrying enormous sprays of carnations — the happiest day of his life, Eamonn says.

But bad luck turns up in strange ways. Grainne was struck down with a tubercular hip, and spent nine months in hospital. For a long time no one was sure whether she would lose her leg, or spend the rest of her life on crutches, perhaps permanently lame.

Luck, and first-class medical attention were with her, and she recovered.

Because they had no child, Grainne suggested they should adopt one. Eamonn was all for it, and they set about the search.

This was perhaps the happiest time of all for them and they were so delighted with the idea that they didn’t worry whether their adopted child would be a boy or girl.

Eamonn was at work on a television show when a message came from Grainne. She simply must speak to him, she said. She had heard from the home that a baby girl was available might she fetch the little thing? The answer was: “Of course.”

This was one of the moments when Eamonn would most liked to have been with her. But duty was duty, and he had to stay. The moment the show was over. Eamonn shot down to Chiswick in his car — and has never done the trip so fast since.

Grainne must have heard him coming, for she opened the door to him, the baby in her arms. Perhaps that was one of the supreme moments in their lives.

They called her Emma. Today she is between two and three years old, a gay, fat little girl with roguish, laughing eyes. She is devoted to Quiz, the grey poodle, and he to her.

Eamonn Andrews, they say, was bom with a silver spoon in his mouth. But he has worked hard to make good.

He loves his home. He adores his friends. In an emergency he can get a meal, clean up, mind the baby — which he does remarkably well —and all this with a smile… for he is that sort of man.

A picture taken during a trial run of the new series. Andrews shares a joke with (from left) William Rushton, Honor Blackman, Freddie Trueman and Bob Monkhouse

takes a look at the
new Sunday series

It could become the most talked about TV show of all. It is 40 minutes each Sunday of sheer unpredictability. To attempt to forecast what might happen is as pointless as trying to say when the world will end.

The central figure is Eamonn Andrews, for so long a stalwart of the BBC that one is mildly surprised he’s not still producing so-and-so’s aunt, cousin, husband, school-friend or shipmate on This Is Your Life.

Just what is The Eamonn Andrews Show? Well, here is what it is not. It is not preplanned, not pre-rehearsed, and not (except in skeleton form) pre-scripted.

For the next 26 weeks, personalities in the public eye will be brought to Teddington Studios, Middlesex and confronted by Eamonn.

He will talk to them, listen to them and maybe hear them sing, play and entertain. It all depends on who they are and just why they are on the show.

Let’s repeat — nothing is planned, nothing is rehearsed, if, for example, the show features a man who has hit the headlines by flying around the world in a flying saucer, he will meet Eamonn as a stranger and talk to him informally and “off the cuff.”

Of course, Eamonn will have done some homework on his guest — provided there was time. He will have studied a biography and looked through newspaper cuttings. But there will be no prior contact.

“Instead,” I was told, “the guest will sit outside the set sipping a drink until he’s called. He’ll be wondering what is in store for him — and so will Eamonn.”

The show will be transmitted “live.” Right up to the moment it goes on the air, there’s room to bring along topically offbeat people.

When one celebrity has been interviewed, he will remain on the set and meet the next guest whom he will be able to question or chat with.

“By the end of the show,” says Eamonn, “I could be talking about anything and everything to some six well-known people at the same time.”

Don’t get the idea, though, that The Eamonn Andrews Show is all chat. If a pop singer has made his mark, he’ll be on the scene, too. There will be a glittering late night sophistication about the whole proceedings.

Eamonn Andrews hopes to remain in control of things, but his guests will be allowed to pull any amount of tricks on him. It’s all part of the fun, all part of a desire to make The Eamonn Andrews Show a segment of late night viewing that no one will want to miss.

A programme spokesman said: “We are avoiding like the plague the ‘all pals together’ party where everyone laughs at private jokes and there’s general bonhomie.

“That sort of show looks phoney and sounds phoney. We wouldn’t hesitate to put two people on the screen who positively loathe each other. To us, controversy isn’t a dirty word.”

As far as is possible, guest celebrities for the following week will be announced by Eamonn after each show and he will invite viewers to submit questions they would like answered by the people concerned.

About the author

Molly Seymour and Rupert Butler wrote for Look Westward magazine

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