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

Denis Norden fronted the ITV bloopers show for 29 years from 1977 - PA
Denis Norden fronted the ITV bloopers show for 29 years from 1977 - PA

Denis Norden, the former host of It'll Be Alright on the Night and comedy writer, has died aged 96.

The television presenter passed away on Wednesday morning after spending "many weeks" at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Armed with his trademark clipboard, Mr Norden fronted the ITV bloopers show for 29 years from 1977 until his retirement in 2006.

After stepping down from television presenting, he gave a lot of attention to raising awareness of macular disease, a degenerative eye condition from which he suffered, and became a patron of the Macular Society.

Mr Norden's children, Nick and Maggie Norden, said in a statement: "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. He will be in our hearts forever."

 Frank Muir and Denis Norden  - Credit: PA
Frank Muir and Denis Norden signing autographs in London in 1979 Credit: PA

Born in Hackney, east London, in February 1922, Mr Norden trained as a manager for the Hyams brothers, owners of impressive London picture palaces.

He served in the RAF in the Second World War with such other future famous names as Eric Sykes and Bill Fraser, and wrote shows to entertain the troops - and get off guard duty.

Mr Norden met future writing partner Frank Muir in 1947 and they created Take It From Here, the radio hit broadcast by the BBC between 1948 and 1960 starring Jimmy Edwards, Joy Nichols, June Whitfield and Dick Bentley.

Eric Sykes and Denis Norden  - Credit: Ian West /PA
Comedy greats Eric Sykes and Denis Norden in 2008 Credit: Ian West /PA

His small screen career kicked off in 1951 with Here's Television, the BBC sketch show starring Sidney James and Ian Carmichael.

Mr Norden and Mr Muir amicably parted ways in 1964 after a series of successes and he wrote material for The Frost Report, hosted by the late Sir David Frost.

He became established as a television presenter in the 1970s, hosting Looks Familiar, the nostalgic chat show, before It'll be Alright On The Night hit the airwaves in 1977.

Its popularity saw ITV commission spin-off Denis Norden's Laughter File, with both running until his retirement.

Tributes: 'He made me laugh for 30 years'

A host of comedians and television presenters have been paying tribute to Mr Norden.

BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker spoke of his sadness at the death of "Lord of the Clipboard Denis Norden".

Comedian Keith Lemon, whose real name is Leigh Francis, shared a picture of the host on Instagram.

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Sad news about Denis Norden RIP

A post shared by Keith Lemon (@keithlemon) on Sep 18, 2018 at 11:18pm PDT

Quizmania host Greg Scott described Mr Norden as "the loveliest human being".

Piers Morgan, the broadcaster, said he had "made me laugh for 30 years".

Rory Bremner, the comedian, described Mr Norden as a "giant in every sense".

Hit bloopers show was born over a cup of tea

Mr Norden told in 2005 of how It'll Be Alright on the Night came to be.

He and a producer named Paul Smith came up with the idea for the programme over a cup of tea in the London Weekend Television canteen and, there and then, phoned Michael Grade, head of entertainment, to make an appointment to suggest it as a possibility.

"Come up now," Grade told them. When Mr Norden said: "What do you think about an entire programme of out-takes?" Grade replied: "How soon can you let me have it?"

Mr Norden said: "We left his office half-an-hour later with a recording date and a budget. Michael had even suggested a title which, Paul and I agreed on the way down, wasn't that hot, but seeing he had been so accommodating, it might be best to go with it. We went with it for 29 years."