Sunday 6 February 2022


 Today is the centenary of the birth of Denis Norden, comedy writer, long-time TV and radio fixture and contributor to the gaiety of nations. With his friend and writing partner Frank Muir, he wrote the classic radio comedy Take It From Here! and for years they appeared together on civilised radio shows such as My Word and My Music (those were the days). For years he was reluctant to write an autobiography, as Frank Muir had written so much about him in his own (excellent) autobiography, A Kentish Lad. Denis thought a slim volume titled The Bits that Frank Left Out would have limited appeal, but he did eventually publish a book of autobiographical sketches called Clips from a Life
Like Frank Muir – and unlike so many of today's celebrities – Denis Norden was a well-rounded individual with a well-furnished mind and wide experience of life. In the war he served, like Muir, in the Royal Air Force, where he began to write material for stage shows. In the course of preparing one such show in 1945, he and fellow performers Eric Sykes and Ron Rich headed for a nearby prison camp in search of lighting equipment. The camp turned out to be Bergen-Belsen, only recently liberated by the Allies and still presenting a horrifying spectacle of suffering. Norden and his two friends organised a food collection among their comrades to help to feed the starving inmates: 'We told everyone you've never seen anything like it, and everybody in the unit contributed whatever spare food they had, or had been sent from home, and we took it along there.' He realised later that this probably was not the right thing to do, but any feeling person would surely have done the same. 
Denis Norden died in 2016 at the ripe old age of 96. 

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