Entertainment & Arts

Denis Norden: TV host and comedy writer dies aged 96

Denis Norden
Image caption Norden was the face of It'll Be Alright On The Night from 1977 until 2006

TV host and comedy writer Denis Norden has died aged 96, his family has said.

The It'll Be Alright on the Night host died on Wednesday after spending "many weeks" at the Royal Free Hospital in London, a statement said.

Norden wrote his first script for the BBC - Let's Go to the Holborn - at the age of 19.

He teamed up with comic Frank Muir between 1947 and the early 1960s, writing comedies including BBC radio's Take It From Here.

In 1977, Norden became the host of the ITV show It'll Be Alright On The Night, and he presented it until his retirement aged 84 in 2006.

Norden's children Nick and Maggie said they wanted to thank "all the dedicated staff and doctors who have looked after him - with much devotion".

The statement added: "A wonderful dad, a loving grandfather and great great-grandfather - he gave his laughter-mongering to so many."

"He will be in our hearts forever."

Piers Morgan was among those to pay tribute to the presenter, calling him "wonderfully amusing", while comedian Rory Bremner said he was "one of the finest (and tallest) writers of a great generation".

Comedian Dave Gorman recalled his favourite excerpt from It'll Be Alright on the Night, while BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker called Norden the "Lord of the Clipboard".

Obituary: Denis Norden

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Media captionAn excerpt of It'll be Alright on the Night with Norden's inimitable, avuncular style

In 1977, Norden got chatting to Paul Smith, the future producer of Who Wants to be a Millionaire in the canteen at London Weekend Television. Over lunch, they were giggling about the famous Blue Peter clip where an elephant proved the old adage about "never working with children or animals".

One of them wondered aloud if you could do a whole show based on funny outtakes. They rang Michael Grade, LWT's director of programmes, and within half an hour they had a commission, a budget and even a title - It'll Be Alright on the Night. The show ran for 29 years.

"Well, it's not the best title," Norden recalled thinking as they left Grade's office. "But we'd better go with it."

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