Denis Norden

It was announced today that Denis Norden has died at a ripe old age.

You probably know Mr Norden best from It’ll Be Alright On The Night, one of the early bloopers shows for ITV.

I knew him for his radio quiz shows, especially My Music (never a fan of My Word) where he was constantly ridiculed for his poor singing but where he had an in depth knowledge of certain styles of music.

People of an older generation would know him as a radio and tv scriptwriter, with his partner Frank Muir most famously. Their big hit was Take It From Here. You can still hear this. It sounds very safe, polite, rarely funny by modern tastes, rather middle class. The creation of The Glums was a middle class way of looking at working class people, crude, dishonest and loud. It was a programme that never really broke the mould, having sketches and musical breaks.

I do enjoy Balham: Gateway to the South, however.


I once encountered Frank Muir. He and Patrick Campbell were on a train apparently coming from Manchester into Euston, probably recording call my bluff. Odd people kept asking for an autograph, and he was very rude to them. They probably deserved it.

Full metal dancing

The latest play at the Almeida in London reminded me of Full Metal Jacket (the Kubrick film) in s many ways.

Tht’s probably just me being a little odd, but it’s a story of a group of girls being prepared for a dance tournament. In its short running time, we find out about many of the anxieties of the girls, who are played by adult actors, their hopes and dreams.

There are a couple of set pieces of dance, various bits of grossness and blood letting, but mostly it is funny, well acted and worth your pennies, if you can find a ticket.

Fool Us!

There is a series on tv called Penn and Teller Fool Us! It started in the UK, then transferred to the USA and is now in season five, I believe.

During the show, magicians come onto the stage, perform a trick and try to fool P&T. Mostly they are card tricks.

I have a general dislike of magic. I don’t see what the appeal is. The job of magicians is to lie. “Pick a card, any card, you have a free choice”. Sometimes you do, but usually not.

Bits of it are on YouTube, and, for some reason, this clip was recommended.

If you watch it, you will notice certain things. One is that just after the three minute mark (3.23 ish) the glass he is drinking from jumps from one hand to another, as if by magic. Another is that at just before six minutes, there is a shot where compere Alyson Hannigan changes to be a completely different person. If you look very hard, it does appear that the razor blade trick goe wrong and he cuts his bottom lip.

So, what you see on the screen is a big cheat, and not a representation of what really happened at all.