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TWO OF the most entertaining uses of radio waves were the BBC programs My Word! (1956-1990) and My Music (1966-1993). Anchoring these two panel shows over the years were Frank Muir and Denis Norden. These two were immensely knowledgeable about the language, charming, witty, articulate and ever so British.
Here are samplings of the wonderful wit from My Word! and My Music. They’re all from memory, so those with access to BBC archives will have to forgive any garbles. Thus far, my meager collection has only eight My Word! programs and none of My Music.
Frank tells the story of approaching a blind corner in a country lane, only to have a woman driver coming the other way all but running him off the road.
“Pig!” she yelled as the two cars almost collided.
“Woman driver!” Frank yelled back.
Then he rounded the corner and hit a pig.
Denis would confess to suffering the affliction of being overly literal. He tells of being on the fifth floor of a department store and feeling the call of nature. Locating the loo, he was shocked to see a sign there with an arrow pointing downward and reading “Out of order. Use floor below.”
Another time, he recalled seeing what he described as most disturbing signage in a do-it-yourself home improvement store. Affixed to a wooden cabinet of considerable size, it read “Put this up yourself!”
The pair teamed up to give a quick account of Roman army discipline:
“Roman soldiers, count off from the left!”
“Eye eye eye.”
The program My Music combined the musical humor of Frank and Denis with the notable vocal talents of Ian Norris and John Amis. Programs would close with each panelist doing a solo. This is where I was introduced to the lovely ballad “I Could Be Happy the Rest of my Life with Plenty of Money and You.”
Also, the program moderator once asked the four, “Does any of our panel play the violin?”
Frank replied, “I honestly don’t know. I’ve never tried.”
Frank Muir’s autobiography is called A Kentish Lad. After its publication, it’s said Denis Norden claimed there’d be no reason for him to write The Bits Frank Left Out. Fortunately he thought otherwise later and wrote Clips from a Life. Amazon.com has both.
There’s a short sampling of My Word! at www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKnne-s50QI. I used to listen to My Word! and My Music on one of our local Los Angeles stations. A Google search suggests some, WBUR-FM in Boston, for example, have My Word! Is anyone getting either show, particularly My Music, today? ds