WHAT’S MY LINE?


The Boiler Shop at Swindon in 1950: photo British Railways.


“What’s my Line” started as a TV panel show in 1951. People with obscure occupations signed in and mimed for the panel an action from their particular line of work. It was then left to the questioning panel of celebrities who had a limited number of questions to guess what they did for a living. If you beat the panel you got a certificate – the days of winning $64,000 were long off! Panels would have been a bit foxed by some of the occupations in the railway works of old. So too would have been the Ministry of Labour who catalogued what they thought was every occupation in the land for national statistical and job-finding purposes. The Ministry’s staff trainers relished their stock-in-trade example by telling their trainees about the “sagger maker’s bottom knocker” only found in the ceramics industry. One wonders what they would have thought about some of the railways’ more obscure occupations.