Muriel was born in Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield, Co Durham. On leaving school, she worked briefly as a librarian. She 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 film industry, she did modelling for advertising agencies, including promoting products such as toothpaste. She also studied to be a dental nurse and used her artistic talents to paint glassware. Starting out as an actress, she starred with Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall in The Constant Husband (1955) and also featured in The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953) in a segment featuring The Mikado.
Muriel had a screen test for a BBC TV announcer position on 24th June 1952. 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 audition for announcers instead. Nevertheless, Young was instantly hired and announced for Associated-Rediffusion on 22nd September 1955, the opening night of commercial television in the UK. She 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 (1959) 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!
Muriel was a presenter of children’s programmes for Associated-Rediffusion and Rediffusion London between 1959 and 1968, including Small Time (1960 – 1965). She worked alongside Wally Whyton and Bert Weedon and the puppet characters Pussy Cat Willum, Ollie Beak and Fred Barker. The popular format lasted for many years, under various titles including Lucky Dip (1961), Tuesday Rendezvous (1962), Five o’Clock Club (1963 – 1966), Willum’s Tea Party (1964), Ollie and Fred’s Five o’Clock Club and Five o’Clock Funfair. Muriel also wrote and did the sketches for Sketch Book (1959) and Friskmo (1959 – 1960).
She presented on various programmes, including: The Sunken Treasure Car (1959); Much Winding Winter Sports (1959); Colonel Crock’s Boat Race (1959); Colonel Crock Flies the Channel (1959), Plans for a Party (1960); Ollie’s Follies (1961); Tufty (1962); Animal Land (1962); The Christmas Tree (1963); Storybook (1961- 1963). She narrated Associated Rediffusion’s Little Rocky (1958). She wrote, told and illustrated Tabitha and Family (1960) and illustrated and told Pet’s Corner (1960). She was a contributor to Rediffusion’s Stubby’s Silver Star Show (1965) and also presented BBC TV’s Junior Points of View (c. 1965).
In the late-1960s and 1970s, Muriel was a staff producer of pop programmes for Granada Television, with such shows as: The Discotheque (1968); Lift Off with Ayshea (1969 – 1973); the Bay City Rollers series Shang-a-Lang; The Arrows Show; A Handful of Songs (1973 – 1975); Alister in Songland (1974 – 1975); Christmas Rock with 45 (1974); Look Alive (1975); Kathy’s Quiz (1976); Get It Together (1977 – 1981); Marc starring Marc Bolan (1977); Song Book (1978); Paul (1978); Breakers (1978); Pop Gospel (1979); The Learning Tree (1979); Graham’s Ark (1981 – 1982).
Muriel devised Clapperboard (1972 – 1981), Granada’s film magazine show for children, presented by Chris Kelly. She was also an occasional panellist 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, she left her successful career in television and moved back to County Durham, where she lived in part of Stanhope Castle with her husband, television drama director Cyril Coke, whom she married in 1954. Coke was the son of the film actor Edward Rigby and the novelist Phyllis Austin. Muriel and Cyril 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. She died in Stanhope, County Durham aged 77.
Video Clips on the Internet
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PICTURED: Muriel Young. SUPPLIED BY: Paul R. Jackson. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.