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Friday, January 2, 1998 Published at 17:16 GMT


Comedy writer Frank Muir dead at 77
image: [ Frank Muir, veteran broadcaster and raconteur, who has died aged 77 ]
Frank Muir, veteran broadcaster and raconteur, who has died aged 77

Veteran comedy writer and broadcasting personality Frank Muir has died, aged 77, after half a century as one of Britain's best-loved funnymen.

Denis Norden remembers his close friend (2' 10")
Muir, probably best known for his role in the TV word game Call My Bluff, died in bed at his home near Egham, Surrey, on Friday, only three months after publishing his much-acclaimed memoirs, A Kentish Lad.

Always interested in new comics

His wife Polly, 72, said he spent Thursday night watching the Tom Hanks film, Forrest Gump, and had praised the script.

She said: "He has been tired but Frank had a good Christmas with his family. There were ten of us.

"That meant he didn't have time to see many comedy shows, old or new, over the holiday. He always remained terribly interested in new comics.

Mrs Muir, a former BBC secretary, said: "The suddenness of his death was good for him. He got the death he deserved."

Famous pink bow-tie

Denis Norden, his long-time friend and collaborator, said the death of the man, famous for his pink bow-tie and mispronunciation, had come as a shock.

His voice breaking with emotion, he said: "He was more than a brother to me. Nothing is adequate to express my feelings."

Despite his plummy voice, Muir, born in Ramsgate, Kent, in 1920, was not university educated and in fact left school without a single qualification.

But he had already started to show literary skills, editing the school magazine and writing short stories.

He started the war with the RAF, posted to Iceland, but later wrote scripts for the It's That Man Again troop of comedians, whose job it was to entertain British servicemen.

Classic radio comedy

On demobilisation in 1946, he began writing jokes for top comics such as Jimmy Edwards before going on to work with Norden.

Between them they blended together racy war-time and post-war humour in classic radio comedies such as Take It From Here, The Glums, My Word! and My Music.

In the 1960s he ran the BBC's sitcom department and produced TV legends such as Steptoe and Son and Till Death Us Do Part, which made a star of Warren Mitchell in the role of East End bigot Alf Garnett.

Later, he joined London Weekend Television as head of entertainment before being chosen to captain one of the teams in the long-running series, Call My Bluff, which began in 1970 and is still running today, albeit with new personnel.

Muir, who leaves a son, James, and a daughter, Sally, once noted his hobbies as "collecting books and staring into space".

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