Sunday, October 4, 2009

Frank Muir - biography


Frank Herbert Muir was born February 5, 1920 in his Grandmother's pub in Ramsgate. He remembers telling his first joke at age six. His parents made sure he attended a decent school, but at 14 his father died and Frank headed off to work - in a carbon paper factory. He joined the RAF at the outbreak of World War II, but the only thing he shot were photographs. He was sent to Iceland for his training as an air force photographer. It was during those RAF years that he began tinkering with writing scripts and comedy skits. "Merciful memory has obliterated the details," Frank said.
B&W frank pic
His career as a professional writer began in 1945 when he was paid for a script. Inspired, he honed his craft to suit the tastes of audiences (mostly armed services personnel) and made a leap to the BBC, which let just about anybody, especially ex-servicemen, on the air in those days.

In 1947 an insightful BBC figure, Charles Maxwell, took Frank and a man called Denis Norden to lunch to see if they could "knock out a show" together. The two bonded and would go on to write the memorable Take it From Here, My Music, My Word!, Bedtime with Braeden,Whack-O! and The Glums over the next 50 years. He was also a regular on Call My Bluff, where he often competed against Patrick Campbell. His humour was never really based on the "put down" variety, and was instead a gentle punning style that made you laugh and groan. Sometimes you just had to smile at how clever he was.

In 1949 he married Polly McIrvine and they later had two children, Jamie and Sally.

In the late 1970s Frank created the What-a-Mess books for children (but enjoyable on so many levels) which were illustrated by Joseph Wright.

He produced a swag of anthologies, one novel in the mid 1990s and his well received autobiography, A Kentish Lad, which managed to oust books about the recently departed Princess of Wales in the best sellers list. The BBC, which had given Frank his first audiences, originally declined to broadcast sections of A Kentish Lad on Radio 4 because it was "too literary". Nothing could be further from the truth, the book has plenty of pictures!

Frank died soon after the release of A Kentish Lad, in January 1998, but his demise did little to dull the public's thirst for his unique wit. Within a year, the paperback edition of A Kentish Lad sold over 100,000 copies.

If you would like to discover more about Frank, read on. Then head down to your local bookshop and demand they re-stock the Muir section and immerse yourself in nostalgia and laughs.

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