This Is Your Life is also a long-running British TV series, hosted in recent years by Michael Aspel. The premise is that they arrange a spurious event for a celebrity to host or speak at, and then Aspel pops out brandishing a red book, from which he presents the audience with a potted biography of the celebrity. As the story unfolds, various guests are brought on (such as relatives, teachers, famous friends) to tell their anecdotes. Sometimes the subject hasn't seen some of the people in years.

Since the BBC acquired the format, they've run the show into the ground (as they have done with Through The Keyhole). The "celebrities" are often hardly famous - pointlessly, they even resort to scraping through the bottom of the barrel by profiling the "stars" of fly-on-the-wall documentaries such as fuckwitted talent vacuum Jane MacDonald and simpering, senile Maureen from Driving School. I don't doubt that the Big Brother cast of cretins are lined up for future episodes of the show, should the Beeb be able to afford them.

Also, they have "done" some people several times over, most notably Spike Milligan (3 times at last count). Harry Hill (who has since been "done" on the show) used to do a routine where he is about to sit in the chair to have an episode done about him, when Michael Aspel notices a fly has landed on the chair - and the rules state they have to do the life of whoever is on the chair. So they have to clear all Hill's friends out of the studio and drive the fly's family down on a coach. "It was one of the best shows they ever did..."

Also an Improv game in which one actor sits in a chair and is prohibited from moving. All other actors take turns, One at a time, acting out scenes that have some significance in the chair'd actor's life, in a random chronological order. By the end of a (sucessful) game, a charicter with traits shaped by the events of his/her life has been developed.

The chair'd actor gives some feedback, but its mostly the other guys that form the meat of the game.

For example:

A non-chair'd actor would come up and say something like "Oh my god Billy, her leg is bleeding and you can see the bone!! AHHHH!", thus taking the role of a childhood friend and establishing circumstances.

It is now established that the chair'd actor's name is Billy, and a traumatic event (some chick's leg being mauled in from of him) took place when he was young


At this point another actor may come up to the stage and flash forward several years and take the role of the chair'd actor's mother with a FuXoRed leg.

(It could be his teacher, a classmate, his pet iguana, whatever.)

She might say something like "IT'S YOUR FAULT I HAVE A CHRONICLY MESSED UP LEG YOU HORRIBLE SON!!", which would then (possibly) leave an emotional scar that could be exploited by a later actor, and so on.

At the end of the game, Billy is a charicter if not with depth, then at least one with a mother with a fucked up leg.

This is your life. The orderly whirlwind. A marching band of performances and luncheons, dinners and cocktail parties, self-help seminars and strenuous work-outs - laboriously stuffed inside a box with the lace ribbon and the kind of quick, efficient wrapping job you only see in the finest of hotel gift shops. So perfect, if you were to offer your gift to someone, it would all seem effortless; only if one were to actually open your present, a Shakespearean Tempest would be unleashed. No one understands the tune you march to – no one marches the way you do. No one could march like you if they tried. Your life. The orderly whirlwind.

It becomes easy after a while. A lot like running. The first time you run a mile, you come home feeling like someone spread you on their toast instead of their usual cream cheese. Every breath is a myriad of needle-edged knives, tearing your trachea into spaghetti strands. The air you breathe seeps into the pores of your lungs, but instead of healing them, dries and cracks them like soil in a desert that hasn’t seen rain since well before the Berlin wall was smashed. Instead of the oxygenated blood you so desperately need, your legs pump battery acid. Every step taken is like being run through a paper-shredder. Hell could not possibly be worse than running a mile for the first time.

You don’t know why you torture yourself. You tell yourself it’s because you want to get in better shape, but obtaining a physique Calista Flockhart would be jealous of is the last thing on your mind when you’re scurrying through 5,280 feet of purgatory. Still, for some illogical reason you keep at it, and slowly, slowly, you begin the ascent back to Earth. The knives are reluctantly driven back, falling off one by one with every new breath you take. The air is still as arid as ever, but now your saliva humidifies it, creating a spring amidst the waste. Blood returns to your arteries. It is by no means easy; simply routine. Your toil is over. It is as if you have been running all along. A new task becomes a regular task becomes method becomes a habit.

A habit. Yes, a habit. That’s what your seemingly precarious juggling act of a life has become. It’s been so long since you’ve started, you don’t remember how to do it any other way. Organized messes, planned business, systematic chaos – it has become indistinguishable from life itself. Like the light on a wing of an airplane – monotonously, impossibly blinking on the wing of a extraordinarily ponderous mass, hurtling through the air at 500 mph when it shouldn’t even be able to move at all, blinking, blinking....

Beeping. Your alarm clock is beeping. Even it symbolizes the standardized storm that you have become. Each beep is an insult to your eardrum, yet each spine wrenching sound is so evenly spaced that not even your better half could detect a flaw. Your body cries out in objection, but the habit that has been ingrained on every fiber of your being for decades on end stifles your body’s protest and you begin to stir.

You stir to what you have always stirred to. The brunch at 10:00, the play date at 2:00, the upcoming plans for the evening. There is no such thing as spontaneity. Autopilot takes them helm from the moment you open your eyes. Then, the revolution occurs. Autopilot has been sabotaged. By you. It’s your birthday. You’re tired. You want to sleep. The tedious whine of your alarm clock is silenced as the backside of your hand knocks it from your bed stand, and the plug relinquishes its hold on the wall. You drift into the soothing tides of heavenly sleep as the shattered fragments of your alarm clock, your captor, your way of life, your routine lay unscrupulously scattered across the bedroom floor.

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