Episode 317 Wednesday 25 December 1963
The mission hall is being decorated while Christmas bells chime in the background. Len is on stage acting a fool while Harry waits for a hand. Len obliges after a swig from his trusty ever-present flask. Concepta comes up on the stage with baby Christopher who's barely walking. Len is given babysitting duty while Concepta checks with Harry, informing he and Len that she'll expect them for dinner in half an hour, hands washed, mind you! She collects the baby and heads back . Harry and Len share another drink before finishing their decorating duties.
Florrie Lindley greets a few passers by outside the shop and quizzes Miss Nugent to see if she knows anything about this surprise that's to be presented at the Mission later. Emily says she can hazard a guess but declines to voice it in case it's a false rumour. (She hasn't changed much, has she!)
Back in the Mission, Len holds a photographic slide up to the window with a chuckle at its contents. Miss Nugent arrives but politely declines Len's offer of a drink from the communal flask. She tries to confirm that the party is a "This is your life" (so she IS curious at least!) Len swears her to secrecy, teasing that it might be *her* life featured. Emily looks quite perturbed and frightened at the very idea.
Minnie and Martha are doing the washing up after their dinner. Ena pontificates from the chair about money and spending habits. Dishes done, the ladies take the weight off and discuss Dennis Tanner's surprise party. All three women seem to know the what but not the who and they each discuss the idea of it being their lives featured. Martha deems hers has no surprises but Minnie would rather leave her skeletons firmly behind locked doors. Ena decides her life would at least give them their money's worth!
Dennis chuckles over his paperwork in the pub and allows his mother to buy him a drink. Elsie grills her son about the party and his involvement in it. He's evasive but won't tell Elsie who the subject is. She warns him, if it's her, NO Americans! (as surprise guests) Val arrives to fetch Dennis to come to the phone (Number 9, where she and Ken live and where she runs a hairdressing shop, is the first residential house on the street to have a telephone) Things seem a bit cool between Len and Elsie but he flirts and softens her up into accepting a drink and an escort to the party tonight. Len and Elsie start to make eyes at one another until Len realizes he has an urgent errand to perform and runs a tot of rum out the door, much to Elsie's puzzlement. At first Elsie wonders if Len rushed out to meet a tall, dark American sailor but we soon see the rum is for Fat Albert (sorry, couldn't resist! He DOES have an endearingly Santa-ish rotund figure!). Albert's been standing watch around the corner, braving the cold winter wind. He's reminded to pop his head into the vestry when "they" arrive.
It's getting near showtime, now, and people are arriving at the hall, buzzing with curiosity while secrets are exchanged backstage in hushed tones. Dennis calls for attention as the show is about to get under way. Myra Booth leans forward and asks Mrs. Walker what she'd do it if was her. "I'd die!" is the answer.
Dennis welcomes the crowd and introduces Walter Potts who seems to be an up and coming young man but who's public speaking skills seem to have got up and went. Don't know what he's there for unless he's helped Dennis put the production together. Dennis continues and reveals the guest of honour as he teases the audience until he stops in front of the honoured one and utters the famous line "This is Your Life, Annie Walker!"
Annie gracefully blushes (i assume so, at least, this is a black and white episode!) and manages a self conscious smile as she comes up on stage (fakest "act surprised" I've ever seen!) The music swells while Walter runs outside to alert Mr. Tatlock who's got an aloof and shivering Joan on the corner, awaiting Billy who's late. She makes small talk with the old soldier about Derby and about Billy who finally arrives. Brother and sister greet but don't seem overly pleased at the sight of each other.
They are led into the warmth of the Vestry just as Dennis has the festivities started by introducing the first blast from the past with a recording of his best wishes from a Mr. Forsyth-Jones, his face shown in a few slides projected on a screen. Next, a photo of Annie as she looked when she first arrived at the Rovers in January of 1939... February 4, Annie corrects him, was her first day in the Rovers. The three ladies of the Snug are introduced by Ena's familiar "Three milk stouts, please" sharply echoing in the hall. There is much applause as the ladies are ushered on stage to receive a kiss on the cheek from a gracious Mrs. Walker. Ena begins an argument as still believes the Walkers moved in in January and then insists she doesn't remember Minnie's recollection of a free drink that first night.
Life at the Rovers on her own while Jack was away at war is described in courageous adjectives. The next guest sings from behind a curtain and Edgar Nuttall is introduced. Annie is dead chuffed to see her former friend from the Operatic Society and they finish a pompous little duet for the audience. Edgar relates his memories of his first meeting with Annie who gallantly stepped out f the chorus line to help the show go on when the leading lady had to drop out (Oh So eagerly too, i'll bet).
Of course her children bring Annie's smile broadly to her face and the family is complete when Jack joins them on stage. Dennis lowers the book and the next guest, who refers to Annie's fling as Lady Godiva brings tight lips and bright pink spots of anger to her cheeks (i assume). Edgar Stubbs he's called. Annie's not best pleased especially when the next slide is a photo of her bare back and curved hips sitting on a donkey. (Ooh Er MISSus!!!)
The last surprise of the evening is Esther Hayes, one of the Walker's first customers. Esther also has an announcement for the community, she is going to move to Glasgow soon and says a fond farewell to Mrs. Walker.
Dennis presents Annie with an album of memories and her friends gather round to offer their best wishes and sing For She's a Jolly Good Fellow. Mrs. Walker is gracious and pleased with the attention and bestows her best and most regal smile to all who gaze upon her Presence!
Edgar Stubbs MICHAEL WYMER Edgar Nuttall MICHAEL
BARRINGTON Walter Potts CHRISTOPHER SANDFORD
Written by H.V.KERSHAW Directed by MICHAEL BECKHAM