Ready-for-Anything Muriel 

13 November 2023

“I’ve sung with Freddie Sales, gagged with Norman Wisdom, been pinched by Arthur England and kissed by Arthur Askey,” says MURIEL YOUNG who never knows what her next job will be



Cover of TV Mirror

From TV Mirror for 19 March 1955

MY contract with the BBC quite clearly said “Caption Girl.” I was soon to learn what that meant. Every time Television Music-Hall opened or closed, there was I with my colleague Audrey Wayne, all set with some novel way of saying, “Settle down now’ everyone, we’re here,” or “Sorry chums, that’s it for tonight.”

We also had to be prepared to step in “if needed.” In the course of the first year I had turned my hands to practically everything. If a magician wanted a girl to disappear I would disappear. Don’t ask me how ! If a comic wanted a chair to sit on, Audrey or I would be there with it.

I have carried mops, brooms and buckets. I have danced with Brazilians, though I can’t really dance; once I sang with Freddie Sales, though my voice is like a corncrake. I have cracked gags with the great gag masters, like Norman Wisdom, Jack Warner and Terry-Thomas. I’ve been pinched by Arthur English, and kissed by Arthur Askey. I have been stupid, wise, pretty, plain, naughty and sometimes nice. I’ve walked on and screamed off. I’ve been handed three pages of script to learn just before the show started—other times I’ve rehearsed sketches for days only to have them cut out at the last minute.

Order out of chaos

Muriel Young

Viewers last saw Muriel Young as the beauty of “Quite Contrary.” Mary Parker told us: “We didn’t have to search outside – we found one right here in Lime Grove”

Working for Richard Afton is an experience no actress should miss. He has a patience and serenity that calms and soothes the most nervous artists. His ability to put on a smooth running show out of two chaotic rehearsals never ceases to amaze me. He assumes we can all do the impossible and we usually do. If not, he’ll do it himself.

I have seen him do the most alarming things to help artists or allay their fears. Ever calm, cigar in hand, I have watched him test trapezes, swing from ropes or disappear below stage through trapdoors. He once showed a woman singer how to enter down a long flight of stairs without tripping over her gown. I’ve even seen him join line with the Toppers to help them negotiate a difficult exit in one of their numbers! Come to think of it, he is almost as versatile as Audrey and I.

Being a caption girl has set my career along a very different path from my original ambitions. At times after a short announcement in Music-Hall, perhaps, I would have visions of myself being asked to sign enormous contracts as an announcer and becoming the darling of your hearts. But not a bit of it.

On bended knees

Nevertheless, the oddest things do happen. A photographer saw me in one show, contacted my agent and asked if I would do a toothpaste advertisement. Then my agent had other requests: Would I advertise so and so’s coffee, somebody else’s tea, a poster for civil defence, a magazine cover? Soon I found myself spending whole days in photographic studios acting series of static poses portraying joy, hate, sadness, and wearing lovely clothes and jewels for the benefit of makers of vacuum cleaners and liver salts (however did I manage to “put over” liver salts?). All great fun, but all leading far away from my real ambitions.

Of course, I have done television plays, but only after practically going down on my bended knees to producers who, having seen my efforts in Music-Hall, can never quite imagine me in any other röle.

The film studios are beginning to unbend a little. I have played small parts in four films, but that has taken two years. At this rate I shall be offered my first leading part round about the time I start drawing my old age pension!


You Say

1 response to this article

Alan Keeling 13 November 2023 at 8:32 pm

Muriel Young appeared in TV crime series such as The Vise and Dial 999.

Your comment

Enter it below

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Thursday 16 May 2024