It’ll Be Alright on the Night host Denis Norden dies aged 96

The TV and radio presenter and comedy writer had a career spanning 60 years

Denis Norden (Getty, EH)

Denis Norden, the host of It’ll Be Alright on the Night, has died aged 96.

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The presenter and comedy writer died on Wednesday morning after spending “many weeks” at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, a statement from his family said.

Norden hosted ITV’s classic bloopers show It’ll Be Alright On The Night for 29 years from 1977 until 2006, when he retired aged 84.

He and producer Paul Smith, who would go on to co-create Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?, came up with the idea together according to the BBC’s obituary for Norden. The presenter said he thought it was “not the best title, but we’d better go with it”.

Presenter Denis Norden profiled in Radio Times in 1949 ahead of the return of his radio comedy series Take It From Here (Radio Times)
Presenter Denis Norden profiled in Radio Times in 1949 ahead of the return of his radio comedy series Take It From Here (Radio Times)

After writing sketches to entertain troops during his time in the RAF in the Second World War, Norden began to collaborate with comic Frank Muir in 1947. 

They worked together until the early 1960s, writing comedies including BBC radio’s Take It From Here in 1948. 

The show became a huge success, with Radio Times marking its return in 1949 with a front cover.

By the end of 1949, Radio Times marked the success of Take It From Here with a front cover feature (Radio Times)
By the end of 1949, Radio Times marked the success of Take It From Here with a front cover feature (Radio Times)

“When the programme started less than two years ago it had to ‘make’ its own stars,” the feature ran, adding that Muir and Norden were only “winning their spurs”.

However, by October 1949 both the stars and the show’s writers had become “national figures, so far as the world of entertainment is concerned.”

Norden later told Radio Times that working with Muir was his fondest professional memory.

Norden’s TV career kicked off in 1951 with Here’s Television, the BBC sketch show starring Sidney James and Ian Carmichael.

He also wrote material for The Frost Report, hosted by the late David Frost, before becoming established as a television presenter in the 1970s, hosting chat show Looks Familiar and It’ll be Alright on the Night.

In a statement, his children Nick and Maggie said: “We’d like to say a huge thank you to all the dedicated staff and doctors who have looked after him – with much devotion.

“A wonderful dad, a loving grandfather and great great-grandfather – he gave his laughter mongering to so many.

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“He will be in our hearts forever.”