Denis Mostyn Norden, CBE (born 6 February 1922) is a retired English comedy writer and television presenter. After an early career working in cinemas, he began scriptwriting during World War II. From 1948 to 1959, he co-wrote the successful BBC Radio comedy programme Take It From Here with Frank Muir. Muir and Norden remained associated for more than 50 years: after they stopped collaborating on scripts, they appeared regularly together on radio panel programmes My Word! and My Music.
Norden wrote scripts for Hollywood films. He also presented television programmes on ITV for many years, including the nostalgia quiz Looks Familiar and blooper shows It'll Be Alright on the Night and Laughter File. He retired in 2006.
Norden was born in Mare Street, Hackney in London's East End, and educated at the City of London School where he was a contemporary of Kingsley Amis. Upon leaving school, he worked as a stagehand, moved into cinema management by the age of 17 and organised variety shows. His writing career began in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, when he wrote for troop shows. Subsequently, he wrote material for comedian Dick Bentley, before meeting Frank Muir (who wrote for Jimmy Edwards) in 1947.
Muir and Norden's first joint venture was the radio show Take It From Here, which they scripted from 1948 to 1959. They went on to write many successful radio and television scripts, including Whack-O! (1956–60) and three series of Faces of Jim (1961–1963), both as vehicles for Jimmy Edwards. They also wrote the satirical sketch Balham, Gateway to the South for the BBC Third Programme. The sketch, which had originally been broadcast in 1948 as part of a comedy series called The Third Division and which featured actor Robert Beatty, was later performed by Peter Sellers on his 1959 LP – The Best of Sellers. In the early 1960s Muir and Norden wrote the sitcom Brothers in Law and its spin-off Mr Justice Duncannon.
In 1964, their writing partnership broke up, as Muir moved into management with the BBC. Over the next several years, Norden, who had long had a fascination with Hollywood, wrote the scripts for several films, including Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell and The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom. Although he was no longer writing with Muir, the two regularly appeared together on panel shows My Word! (1956–1990) and My Music (1966–1993), first on radio then TV. Norden also hosted an ITV/Channel 4 nostalgia quiz, Looks Familiar...
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