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Round Britain Quiz


My Word trumps my words
John Julius Norwich Writer
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I did quite a lot on radio at one moment. I was Question Master for My Word and My Word was a very, very popular programme with Frank Muir and Denis Norden, you know. It was a very, very popular programme here, but it was hugely popular in America and whenever I used to... subsequently, went on a lecture tour to America and was introduced, they always said, 'And for five years he was the chairman of My Word.' And people were far more impressed by that than my having written a dozen books or anything like that. My Word was the thing, and then all the questions afterwards would always be about My Word, not about my lecture at all.

And it was great fun. I got a bit bored with it by the end, simply because all my words were written down, really. Everybody else was allowed to improvise, but I would see actually written on the script, 'Oh, well done, Frank, that was very amusing', you know, which I was perfectly capable, actually, of improvising for myself. And the result of that was that I did start improvising for myself and I think I possibly went rather too far. And I did it for four years, I think, but then I was sacked. Very, very nice handwritten letter from the director saying, 'Thank you so much, you've been lovely, but we think the time had come to make a change.' So, Antonia Fraser, who used to have been, who used to be one of the members of the quiz, she took over the chair from me.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: My Word

Duration: 1 minute, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018