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Clips From A Life [Paperback]

Denis Norden
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 April 2009

Classic stills from the life of one of Britain's most cherished entertainers.

This is the extraordinary life story of comic legend Denis Norden, told in momentary snapshots by the master British comedian himself. Containing reminiscences of a career stretching back to the golden age of the radio, through the heyday of cinema and the early pioneering days of television comedy, ‘Clips From a Life’ showcases Denis Norden's creative genius at its very best.

Told with Denis' hallmark flashes of brilliant humour and sharp observation, the extraordinary life of this enduring humorist is unravelled through his private recollections of the ways things used to be, back then. Denis' school-day musings, dry witticisms, and old-time sayings unearthed from days gone by, combined with remembrances of collaborations with famous figures of the day, from Eric Sykes to Bill Fraser, will sweep you back instantaneously to the magical gags, lively characters and laughter of the past.

Flitting between Denis' East End childhood and early career in Variety as a cinema manager for the Hyams Brothers, to his post-war work as a scriptwriter on the groundbreaking radio shows ‘Take It From Here’ and ‘In All Directions’, to the phenomenally successful television comedy ‘Whack-O!’ (all written with long-term collaborator Frank Muir), to his years as a solo writer, performer, and presenter on programmes such as the much-loved ‘It'll Be Alright on the Night’, it is easy to see how Denis' comic appeal has endured for decades, to make him one of the greatest British writers and performers to date.

Brimming with Denis's unique wit and personal warmth, this is a rich and compelling mix of anecdote and autobiography from a very special entertainer.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (30 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007277962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007277964
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘Don't even open this book if you have important things to do. I have known Denis for over 700 years. I owe my entire film acting career to him, since the only parts I got offered were in his films, on his recommendations. He is kind, and wise, and wonderful company, better than Michael Palin. Much better than Michael Palin. Much, much better than Michael Palin. And he's a decent height. The truth is…I love this man. I loved this book.’ John Cleese

‘This collection of anecdotes and autobiography reveals that he is much more than just a linkman. It is as much social history as life-story.’ Sunday Telegraph (Book of the Year)

‘A sparklingly anecdotal memoir of Norden’s long and golden career in comedy. A timely reminder, in these Brand and Ross-tinged times, of a true comic genius.’ Daily Mail (Book of the Year)

‘Compelling recollections.’ Roger Hutchinson, Scotsman

‘Exquisitely judged autobiographical vignettes. Norden’s more fragmentary style evokes the newsreels, passing the Maltesers of 60 years of comedy writing. He is beautifully economical. Now in his 80s, he imparts his wisdom gently.’ Kit Hesketh Harvey, Guardian

‘It’s predictably marvelous. High jinks backstage are the keynote – on television, radio and in the London cinemas where he presided during the Second World War.’ Scotsman

About the Author

Denis Norden is one of Britain's best-loved and most enduring entertainers. In a career that stretches back to the golden age of radio, and the pioneering years of television comedy, he has worked alongside such greats as Eric Sykes, Spike Milligan and Peter Ustinov and has co-written and presented numerous successful radio and television shows. The much-loved It'll Be Alright on the Night ran for over 29 years, earning Denis a place in The Guinness Book of Records. He was awarded the Writers Guild of Great Britain Comedy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1999.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anne Gilbert 23 Oct 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Clips from a Life
What a wonderful book! I always loved 'It'll be alright on the night', and reading this book I can 'see' Denis Norden as if he's standing there with his clip board talking to me, in that laid back manner with all those subtle jokes and innuendoes. A fascinating insight into the old music hall/ theatre/ cinema days. A great book to be absorbed into and then laugh out loud.... I would recommend it to everyone . A fascinating and good humoured read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READS FAMILIAR WITH CHARM AND HUMOUR 24 Nov 2008
Denis Norden may be best known these days as the genial host of "It'll Be Alright On The Night", which was regarded as an annual highlight on ITV for so many years, but his career has been long and distinguished. I always associate him with "Looks Familiar", but others will recognise him as one of the writers of the classic BBC 1950s radio show "Take It From Here" and other entertaining programmes.

This is a delightful book which charmingly ambles through the past seventy years. Variety, the golden age of radio and early television are all recalled in this beautifully written book. Unlike the myriad of celebrity autobiographies being published at the same time, this one is the work of a man who has made a living out of writing as well as presenting and contributing to radio and television programmes. It shows in the prose!

His private life remains private, but his professional life is recalled in "clips", grouped together under subjects such as "Mostly Radio Frank and Censorship" and "Mostly World War Two".

Another reviewer complains about the lengthy glossary and index. I disagree. When I first viewed the glossary my first reaction was "I know most of this". However on second thought I realised that many people reading this book will not know anything about many of the great artists, actors and musicians recalled by Norden. I think this is a useful feature as how many of you reading this review know who Teddy Joyce was, or which evergreen songs Eric Maschwitz wrote? It is a sad reflection on today's society that our rich cultural past is being almost completely forgotten. This book brings some of it to life...
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4.0 out of 5 stars great book 13 Nov 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Filled with lots of anecdotes and funny stories, especially about his time with his writing partner Frank Muir. A great read!
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed reading this book. I have always admired Denis Norden's ability to use words to convey a story and his book lived up to my expectations. I was amazed by the number of different people he has worked with over so many years and his reminiscences provided an interesting insight to his involvement in a wide variety of writing assignments. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those of more mature years who are more likely to remember programmes such as 'Take it from Here,' 'My Word' and 'My Music' etc. on the radio. Those were the days!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Norden at his best 25 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I hadn't appreciated I actually still had a paperback copy of this book. However, I am glad I purchased the ebook copy for it means I can dip in and out of Norden's descriptions of theatre and television life at any time.

I certainly can recommend this ebook for anybody that has liked Denis Norden and Frank Muir's collaborations over the years and for Norden's own life story as an individual script writer etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Comedy & Clipboards 2 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Growing up in the 80s, Denis Norden was the (looks) familiar face of 'It'll Be Alright on the Night'.

`Clips from a Life', is a selection of humorous prose from his long and varied career.

Rather than an old school autobiography, Denis provides a series of snapshots, covering his early days working in cinema and subsequent RAF service, through to his writing partnership with Frank Muir and later television work.

As one reviewer noted `Clips' is padded out with a large glossary, which although informative, may not be necessary, and naturally there is some crossover with Frank Muir's book `A Kentish Lad'.

Minor criticisms aside, Denis's anecdotes are very funny and `Clips' is the kind of book to dip into and have a chuckle when you are feeling a bit down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clips 30 April 2011
One of the few books, I've read, that by the end, I just

wanted to keep reading and turning over the next page.

Finished all too short. What an interesting life Dennis

has led, he can rest on his laurals now, after giving

us all a good laugh sometime in our lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 6 Nov 2010
This is a fine book by one of Britain's great comedy writers. It's not as conventional or as detailed as Frank Muir's memoirs, preferring a more selective approach, but it's a charming account of a great era in show business.
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