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She was born in 1923 in Bishop Middleham near Sedgefield, County Durham. As a child, she lived with her family in the gatehouse of Elmwood (now the Elmwood Community Centre), Hartburn, County Durham, near Stockton-on-Tees. Her father, Wilfrid Young, was batman and later chauffeur to Col. Kitching, who lived at Elmwood for many years after retiring from the army in 1939.
Young worked briefly as a librarian on leaving school and attended art college, before deciding to embark on a career as an actress. She joined a repertory theatre in Henley-on-Thames, where her uncle was directing. She subsequently performed at The Gateway Theatre, London, and the Theatre Royal in Chatham. Trying to get into the movie industry, she did modelling for advertising agencies, including promoting products such as toothpaste, which paid her enough money until she became an actress. She also studied to be a dental nurse and used her substantial artistic talents to paint glassware.
Starting out as an actress, she starred with Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall in The Constant Husband and was also in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953). She also obtained parts in the movie The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, acting in a segment featuring The Mikado.
In 1955, as the first ITV company Associated-Rediffusion was gearing up to launch, she intended to attend an actors' audition at the company, but mistakenly went to an announcers' audition instead. Nevertheless, Young was instantly hired and announced for Associated-Rediffusion on 22 September 1955, the opening night of commercial television in the UK. Young worked as a presenter and interviewer for regional programmes on Granada Television and Southern Television, and as a disc jockey on Radio Luxembourg. She was cast, alongside Peter Sellers in the movie I'm All Right Jack as an announcer, without the director knowing that it was in fact her real-life job. However, her career could have easily taken a different route. Just before joining ITV, she had been on stage touring with Eamonn Andrews, in a game show called Double or Drop. Shortly after signing her ITV contract, he told her that he had sold the idea to the BBC. It was later used as part of the children's show Crackerjack!.
She was probably most famous for her work as a presenter of children's programmes for Associated-Rediffusion and Rediffusion London between 1959 and 1968, working alongside Wally Whyton and Bert Weedon, and featuring the puppet characters Pussy Cat Willum, Ollie Beak and Fred Barker. The popular format thus created lasted for many years, under various titles including Lucky Dip, Tuesday Rendezvous, Five O'Clock Club, Ollie and Fred's Five O'Clock Club and Five O'Clock Funfair. In the late 1960s and 1970s, Young became a staff producer of pop programmes for Granada Television, with such shows as Lift Off with Ayshea, Get It Together, the Bay City Rollers series Shang-a-Lang, The Arrows Show and Marc, starring Marc Bolan.
She devised Clapperboard, presented by Chris Kelly, Granada's film magazine show for children. Young was also an occasional panelist on the ATV talent show New Faces. Changing direction again in the mid-1980s, Young made two series of Ladybirds, a Channel 4 programme from Mike Mansfield's independent company.
In 1986, Young left her successful career in television and moved back to county Durham, where she lived in part of Stanhope Castle with her husband Cyril Coke, a television drama director, whom she had married in 1954. Coke was the son of the film actor Edward Rigby and the novelist Phyllis Austin. The couple met when he was casting director for The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan. Coke died in 1993.
Although most references gave her year of birth as 1928, she was actually born in 1923; her parents' marriage was registered in the first quarter of 1923.
- Hayward, Anthony (26 March 2001). "Muriel Young obituary". The Independent (London, UK).
- "Pictures of Muriel Young at the TV announcers website". Retrieved 25 January 2009.
- Muriel Young at the Internet Movie Database
- Profile, transdiffusion.org; accessed 18 February 2010.
- Extract from the General Register Office of Births, Deaths & Marriages:
*Name: YOUNG, Muriel
* Registration District: Sedgefield
*Year of registration: 1923
*Quarter of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep
*Mother's Maiden Name: (Vera) Maddison
* Volume No: 10a
*Page No: 356