My Word!



John Arlott (1956-7)

Jack Longland (1957-77)

John Julius Norwich (1978-82)

Michael O'Donnell (1983-88)


Team captains: Frank Muir and Denis Norden

Ted Kavanagh (stand-in for Denis Norden for 6 episodes, 1957)


BBC Home Service Midlands, 6 June? to July? 1956

BBC Home Service / Radio 4, 1 January 1957 to 26 September 1988

TV version: BBC-tv, 10 July to 21 August 1960 (7 episodes)


Long-running comedy quiz ostensibly about the origin of famous phrases, but best remembered for Denis Norden and Frank Muir's lengthy shaggy dog stories which served as the set-up for convoluted puns.


The show's final format came about largely by accident. Originally it was intended to be light-hearted but still reasonably serious, however when two guests failed to turn up for the pilot recording Denis Norden and Frank Muir were drafted in at the last minute. Finding many of the questions either too easy or too hard, they started answering instead with their own funny stories, and the rest is history. Both stayed with the show for its entire run.

Within two years of the series' launch, the BBC were selling the show to no fewer than 35 countries, making it the most-heard radio programme in the world up to that date.

On 6 June 1964, My Word! became the first game show to be broadcast in stereo. The left channel was broadcast on BBC Third Programme / Network Three, with the right channel on BBC1. Stereo broadcasts of this sort weren't all that unusual - they'd been going on regularly since 1959, but they were usually given over to music.

On 29 July 1964, a special edition came from Stratford Upon Avon. Called My Bard!, it devoted a whole programme to questions about Shakespeare, to mark the 400th anniversary of his birth.


Edward J Mason and Tony Shryane

Theme music

Alpine Pastures by Vivian Ellis.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


Image:My word set.jpg l-r: Nancy Spain, Denis Norden, Jack Longland, Frank Muir and Arnot Robertson on the set of the short-lived TV version.


The Utterly Ultimate "My Word!" Collection (paperback)

See also

My Music was a spin-off from this show.


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