JOYCE GRENFELL  (1910-1979)

Joyce Grenfell was born Joyce Phipps in Montpelier Square, London, on February 10, 1910.  Her father was Paul Phipps, an architect and her mother was Nora Langhorne, sister of Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons.  She was educated at the Francis Holland School, London, and the Christian Science School, Clearview, in South Norwood, and then she was "finished off" in Paris where she attended Mlle. Ozanne's finishing school at the age of 17.  Click here for a caricature of Joyce she drew herself.

From an early age she invented characters and pretended to be other people.   Being funny and imaginative came easily to her.  She had a London childhood and considered herself a "townie."  She left school at 17, the same year she met Reggie Grenfell; they were married two years later, in 1929 at St. Margaret's Westminster; they remained married for 50 years until her death.  

All throughout her childhood, she sang songs with her American mother, who was self taught on the guitar.  In the pre-TV days when people amused themselves, she performed in amateur theatricals in her own home and those of friends.  Joyce and her mother used to play at "Ladies" and talk to each other in various voices.  She had quite a knack for imitating people.  Joyce had weekly elocution lessons with a lady she characterized as deaf, and a cockney with adenoids.  As an adolescent, she fancied the glamour of being an actress but she wasn't very keen on acting.  Her father insisted she study at RADA which she did for one term in1927 where she found plays too restrictive with no room for spontaneous invention.  For RADA she played a shepherdess with a song to sing.

Her first professional writing was some verse published in PUNCH for which she was paid "ten and six".  Her first job from 1937-39 was reviewing BBC radio programs for the Observer, a London newspaper, for £10 a week.  The editor, J.L. Garvin, gave her these  invaluable rules to write by:  "Avoid 'which' and 'and'.  Stop and start again.  Facts first - feelings later.  Indicate, don't elaborate.  Short sentences are more telling."

In 1938 she gave an impromptu imitation of a Buckinghamshire Women's Institute speaker at a dinner party attended by Stephen Potter, who worked for the BBC.  This talent for dramatic monologue on the topic of "useful and acceptable gifts" so impressed  Potter, he had her do it for Herbert Farjeon, the author of the successful revue NINE SHARP.   Equally impressed, Farjeon put her monologue and her into his next revue, THE LITTLE REVUE, along with a second sketch he asked her to write, which turned out to be about three mothers, one of whom has a daughter who wishes to marry a conjurer.  These were later recorded on a gramophone record.  Eventually she added another sketch called HEAD GIRL about a gushing, ungrammatical Sixth Form school girl.  For her appearance in THE LITTLE REVUE she was paid £12.10s a week after impressing the critics on opening night.  Farjeon included her in his next two revues as well.  USEFUL AND ACCEPTABLE GIFTS is included on the LP REVUE 1930-1940 ORIGINAL ARTISTS (PMC 7154).

In the first volume of her autobiography, she described her readiness to perform as a feeling of wanting to share something she found funny or sad.  She was inspired to do monologues by Ruth Draper, a friend of the Phipps family, but Ruth did "dramas", while Joyce characterized her monologues as "light-hearted, shorthand sketches of character, suggested rather than detailed".  When writing monologues, voice and accent came first to Joyce.  She writes, "it was the voice that brought the character into focus and with it instinctively came mannerisms and movement."  Generally, it took her two days to a month to produce a monologue, improvising out loud (in the days before tape recorders), noting down key words and phrases before she wrote it out in long hand.  Her favorite character was the Vice-Chancellor's Wife in ENG. LIT.  Her next favorite was Mrs. Moss, the "terrible worrier" who wins a rabbit at a raffle.  He third favorite and the one most popular with audiences was the Nursery School Teacher, which developed out of HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN [1944] on the "How" radio series.  The first nursery monologue was called WHAT FLOWER ARE YOU?  Her favorite story was LALLY TULLET which is the only thing she ever wrote that went unchanged from the first draft and which she performed in her mother's Virginia accent.

In THE TIME OF MY LIFE, Joyce writes: "It is the most wonderful sight and sensation in the world to watch an audience relax and abandon themselves to listening and enjoying it." Later in the book she describes what it is like on those special performances when everything goes well: "It's an awe-inspiring feeling and intoxicating. But not to be trusted. You can't count on it for an instant. Next time will be different. It always is. I do feel so light and neat-minded sometimes and then it works. It comes through unimpeded by me and I feel remote as a leaf on a tree while it goes on. It only works when I can get to the side of it and let it happen."

About her first professional appearance on stage, her friend Virginia Graham writes:  She had no image to preserve, no axe to grind, no future management to impress.  This total lack of "angst" came across the footlights and engendered an atmosphere of extraordinary trust and love, so that audiences under her spell felt safe and cozy and somehow cherished.

Writing in JOYCE GRENFELL, MY KIND OF MAGIC, Janie Hampton reveals that Joyce appeared on the radio more often than  any other woman in the twentieth century.  Her first programmes included COCKTAILS, KIPPERS AND CAPERS, THE WHOOPEE CLUB and MIDDLE EAST MERRY-GO-ROUND, broadcast to troops overseas from the Paris Cinema in Lower Regent Street.

She was active during the war helping out at hospitals and canteens and entertaining the troops, principally on ENSA tours to 14 countries, including North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Italy and India in 1944 and 1945.  (ENSA stands for Entertainments National Service Association which was set up to provide drama, cinema and musical entertainment to the troops at home and abroad during WWII.  It was the brainchild of Basil Dean and because the War Office was not interested, he went to NAAFI [Navy and Army and Air Force Institutes] in 1939 who agreed to sponsor it. It was parodied in Peter Nichols' PRIVATES ON PARADE as S.A.D.U.S.E.E.)  Joyce was accompanied on these tours by Viola Tunnard, her pianist.  Joyce credits this experience as the time she grew "working muscles and learned techniques that allowed [her] to be spontaneous and ready to improvise."  She was awarded the O.B.E. for this wartime service in 1946.

Around 1941 Joyce was introduced to Richard Addinsell by Clemence Dane; they hit it off at a party, he playing music and Joyce singing the lyrics.  Later they collaborated on a song called NOTHING  NEW TO TELL YOU, a letter to a parted love, very topical during World War II.  They went on to collaborate on many other songs.  For ballads, he wrote the music first and Joyce fitted the lyrics to his tunes; for "idea" songs with stories, the process was reversed.  A followup number, I'M GOING TO SEE YOU TODAY (1942), became Joyce's signature tune; she recorded it with NOTHING NEW on the reverse side.  Another song they wrote together was  STATELY AS A GALLEON.

In 1943 Joyce began writing with Stephen Potter a series of radio programmes called "How".  These began as legitimate documentaries, but by the time Potter invited her to participate, the shows had developed a satirical bent and Joyce herself subsequently likened them to the improvs of Nichols and May (which they predated by a number of years).  This material was improvised by Potter and Joyce, and only later written down for the cast.  Among the characters she created for this series are Mrs. Treubel, a refugee living in Golders Green (played by Gladys Young) and Fern Brixton, vegetarian lover of Beauty and weaver of her own clothes (played by Joyce).  Over 19 years, she and Potter developed 29 scripts until the programme ended in 1962.  Topics included how to talk to children; argue; give a party; keep a diary; learn to speak French; woo; blow your own trumpet; be good at music; make friends; deal with Christmas; deal with the New Year; move house; be good at games; travel; cross the Atlantic First Class; know America really well; and lead really full lives.

She also wrote and performed on a weekly BBC radio series called A NOTE WITH MUSIC and appeared on a 1949 radio series called WE BEG TO DIFFER where a panel of four women (including Joyce) discussed with two male panelists subjects that divided the sexes.  After the war she wrote scripts for a radio series called HERE'S WISHING YOU WELL AGAIN.  Starting in 1956 she appeared on the radio show CALL THE TUNE, a general knowledge quiz about music that eventually became the TV show FACE THE MUSIC.  Joyce appeared on this 1971-1975.

In 1945 she appeared in a revue written and directed by Noel Coward called SIGH NO MORE.     Click here for details of SIGH NO MORE.  In addition to the material Joyce wrote for herself, Coward gave her a song he had previously written for himself called THAT'S THE END OF THE NEWS, which celebrated the greeting of bad news with Pollyanna glee.  Joyce sang this wearing a gym slip, pigtails and school hat.  Here are the lyrics kindly provided by John Groushko:


We are told very loudly and often
To lift up our hearts,
We are told that good humour will soften
Fate's cruelest darts
So however had our domestic troubles may be
We just shake with amusement and sing with glee.

Heigho, Mum's had those pains again,
Granny's in bed with her varicose veins again,
Everyone's gay because dear cousin Florrie
Was run down on Saturday night by a lorry,
We're so thrilled, Elsie's in trouble,
That hernia she had has turned out to be double,
When Albert fell down all
The steps of the Town Hall
He got three bad cuts and a bruise.

We're delighted
To be able to say
We're unable to pay
Off our debts,
We're excited
Because Percy's got mange
And we've run up a bill at the vet's.

Three cheers! Ernie's got boils again,
Everything's covered in ointment and oils again,
Now he's had seven
So God's in His heaven
And that is the end of the news.

We are told that it's dismal and dreary
To air our despairs,
We are told to be gallant and cheery
And banish our cares
So when fortune gives us a cup of hemlock to quaff
We just give a slight hiccup and laugh laugh laugh.

Heigho, everything's fearful,
We do wish that Vi was a little more cheerful,
The only result of her last operation
Has been gales of wind at the least provocation.

Now don't laugh, poor Mrs Mason
Was washing some smalls in the lavatory basin
When that old corroded
Gas-heater exploded
And blew her smack into the news.

We're in clover,
Uncle George is in clink
For refusing to work for the war,
Now it's over
Auntie Maud seems to think
He'll be far better placed than before.

What fun -- dear little Sidney.
Produced a spectacular stone in his kidney,
He's had eleven
So God's in His heaven
And that is the end of the news.

Heigho, what a catastrophe,
Grandfather's brain is beginning to atrophy,
Last Sunday night after eating an apple
He made a rude noise in the Methodist chapel.

Good egg! Dear little Doris
Has just been expelled for assaulting Miss Morris.
Both of her sisters
Are covered in blisters
From standing about in the queues.

We've been done in
By that mortgage foreclosure
And Father went out on a blind,
He got run in
For indecent exposure
And ever so heavily fined.
Heigho hi-diddle-diddle,

Aunt Isabel's shingles have met in the middle,
She's buried in Devon
So God's in His heaven
And that is the end of the news.

In 1947 she starred with Max Adrian in a new revue, TUPPENCE COLOURED, named for the cut-out cardboard toy theatres of Regency days.  She wrote the monologues ODYSSEY, about a visiting American looking at the austerity days of England just after the war; and ARTIST'S ROOM, depicting the behavior of differently priced ticketholders coming backstage to see a pianist after his recital.  She collaborated with Geoffrey Wright on  NICE SONG, and with Addinsell on two songs:  THE COUNTESS OF COTELEY, and one more or less embodying her own personal philosophy, I LIKE LIFE.  She also devised an ECHO song and dance to the music BY THE WATERS OF MINNETONKA in which she dressed as an Indian and was unable to locate exactly where off-stage yoo-hoos were originating; she enjoyed "galumphing" across the stage to the wings, searching vainly for her caller in this audience pleasing bit.

In 1954 she wrote and starred in a revue entitled JOYCE GRENFELL REQUESTS THE PLEASURE .  This was, essentially, a one-woman show, but with the assistance of three dancers to engage the audience's attention while Joyce made quick-changes offstage of 13 costumes.  The show consisted of 8 monologues and 16 songs, including PALAIS DANCER, in which she danced; among the other numbers were SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME, THE MUSIC'S MESSAGE and THREE BROTHERS.  Joyce felt that prior to this time the characters she portrayed were mainly ninnies, but she finally got up her courage to write a piece that wasn't meant to be funny and was gratified by the reception to THREE BROTHERS.

She opened an American version of JOYCE GRENFELL REQUESTS THE PLEASURE in 1954 on Broadway where it ran for 8 weeks.  During that time, she began a series of appearances on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, a popular Sunday evening variety show.  One of the numbers she performed on the show was THE COUNTESS OF COTELEY, for which she rewrote some of the lyrics to make them comprehensible to American audiences.

This was the end of her time in revue and thereafter she appeared solely in one-woman shows or at charity events. In 1956 she toured the US and Canada in a 2-hour solo show.  As part of the tour, she was often interviewed by local U.S. newspapers and radio shows, and it was this which inspired the monologue TIME TO WASTE, a sketch about a visiting Englishwoman trying to get a word in edgeways on a commercial radio show, somewhere in the Southern United States.

Her next solo show was JOYCE GRENFELL AT HOME.  She played Sydney in 1959 for 13 1/2 weeks and made three subsequent tours of Australia (Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Launceton, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney) and New Zealand (Auckland, Christchuch and Wellington) in 1963, 1966 and 1969.

Joyce appeared in 24 films, most notably the St. Trinian's Ealing comedies inspired by the cartoons of the genius Ronald Searle.  She described her role as Ruby Gates in the St. Trin's films and Miss Gossage in THE HAPPIEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE as "gawky overgrown schoolgirl types".  In the second volume of her autobiography Joyce writes "I am afraid I looked on [movies] as a side-line to what I thought of as my real job -- writing and performing my own material on stage, radio and television."  She did appreciate the broad audience films gave her, but she often had to rewrite her lines, as speaking dialogue written by others did not come naturally to her.  She admitted to enjoying the communal aspect of films, the teamwork.
1941 A Letter from Home American Mother A wartime propaganda documentary 'short'.  Joyce was an American woman who had adopted the British children of Celia Johnson evacuated from England
1943 The Lamp Still Burns Dr. Barrett Another propaganda story "faintly disguised as a romance" intended to persuade girls to become nurses.  Joyce played a lecturer telling the nursing recruits about blood transfusions.  Click here for the BFI webpage.
1943 The Demi-Paradise aka Adventure for Two Sybil Paulson Another propaganda film designed to show how Anglo-USSR co-operation was working.  Joyce played "a sort of ex-deb ninny"
1947 While the Sun Shines Daphne Joyce played a silly twittering woman in this film version of a Terrence Rattigan play.
1949 Poet's Pub Miss Horsefell-Hughes This is a gentle comedy set in a country pub during a pageant.  A lost ring used as a token between Essex and Queen Elizabeth is found and one of the guests is abducted by a thief, but it all comes right at the end.  Joyce wrote that she enjoyed "parting her hair in the middle and winding up [her] pigtails into 'ear-phones' for the Liberty-cotton-print frocked, arty-crafty, folk-dance enthusiast."  She calls this role the "first of the galumphers" and compares it to the Fern Brixton character she created for the Stephen Potter radio show HOW.
1949 A Run for Your Money Mrs Pargiter Joyce played an eager saleslady in a dress shop, a small cameo in a film about a day in London won by two Welsh miners.
1950 Alice in Wonderland Ugly Duchess/
The classic Lewis Carroll story done with one live little girl and hundreds of stop motion puppets.
1950 The Happiest Days of Your Life Miss Gossage Joyce calls this the"plummiest of all the parts" she was ever offered, the "queen of all the galumphers; repressed and upright." See  Writing to Virginia Graham, her best friend, on July 5, 1972, after seeing it on TV, she says, "I looked like a stick of rhubarb."  Margaret Rutherford is the headmistress of a girls' school, St. Swithin, billeted in error during the war at a boys' school, Nutbourne College, whose headmaster is Alastair Sim.  At first the staffs of the two schools are at loggerheads, but when the parents of some of the girls arrive to tour the school on the same day as the governors of a college Sim hopes to be appointed to, the two schools cooperate by creating two separate tours which require split second timing, the parents seeing only the girls and the governors seeing only the boys.  Also in the cast in a tiny cameo is George Cole as an underling on the maintenance staff at the Ministry of Education.  Many otherwise knowledgeable people mistake this for one of the St. Trinian's films.  It is not.  It was based on a play by John Dighton which also starred Margaret Rutherford.  I believe the mixup is due to the fact that Ronald Searle drawings appear under the opening credits, this and the St. Trin's films were presented by Gilliat and Launder; and, of course, this film and the first St. Trinian's film starred Alastair Sim and Joyce .  Joyce was in the first 3 St. Trinian's films and, after the first one, Alastair had only a small cameo in the second.  Click here for the BFI webpage.
1950 Stage Fright Shooting Gallery Attendant Joyce played another gawky enthusiastic woman , this time who shouts "lovely ducks" to entice attendees at a theatrical garden party to shoot at moving duck shaped targets in order to win a doll; her short scene is with Alastair Sim.
1951 The Magic Box Mrs. Claire This was an earnest biography of William Friese-Greene, one of the pioneers of cinema, who had the first patent in the UK on moving pictures.  Joyce was one of many star cameos.  She played a member of the Bath chorale who is a atwitter because the guest conductor is Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame).
1951 Laughter in Paradise Elizabeth Robson Joyce plays the fiance of Alastair Sim, whose eccentric uncle (Hugh Griffith) dies leaving a will in which his beneficiaries have to perform odd tasks. Sim is sworn to secrecy and can't tell "Fluffy" that he has to spend 28 days in jail. Similar to the ST. TRIN's films, Joyce's character has been engaged for 10 years and is also in uniform, although this time the military. A small role in a quietly amusing film.  Click here for the BFI webpage.
1951 The Galloping Major Maggie Joyce played a Cockney milk-bar maid, one of the citizens of Lamb's Green, London who participate in a syndicate to own a horse.  The syndicate accidentally buys the wrong horse, but they find out he's a jumper so they enter him in the Grand National.  He wanders away two days before the race, but is found in time and manages to win because all the other horses fall down during the jumps.
1952 The Pickwick Papers Mrs. Leo Hunter Joyce played a guest of the Pickwick Club who throws a literary fancy dress breakfast for Mr. Pickwick at which she comes dressed as Boadicea and recites an Ode on an Expiring Frog.
1953 Million Pound Note, The aka Man with a Million Duchess of Cromarty Her one glamorous role, Joyce played a duchess who introduces Gregory Peck's character to society when he has become somewhat infamous as an eccentric millionaire by flashing around an uncashable million pound note.  Later when it appears he has been an impostor all along, she locks up her niece to prevent her running off with Peck.  There is an amusing sequence where she auctions off a hideous vase for charity, on which Peck accidentally makes the winning bid because he's wiggling his fingers at a young child in the crowd.
1953 Genevieve Hotel proprietress During an antique car rally from London to Brighton, two men (John Gregson and Kenneth Moore) who are rivals for the affection of the wife (Dinah Sheridan) of one of them decide to race back to London, engaging in a lot of juvenile behavior and cheating.  Joyce played the receptionist of a second rate hotel at which one couple is forced to stay.  Joyce enjoyed her cameo as the "wooly-brained but amicable receptionist".  She spoke with her jaw jutting out more than it does when she was being natural.  Click here for the BFI webpage.
1954 Forbidden Cargo Lady Flavia Queensway Joyce played a birdwatcher, one of her real life hobbies.  Her titled eccentric assists a Customs and Excise officer to arrest some smugglers who dare to land at a bird sanctuary.
1954 The Belles of St. Trinian's Policewoman Ruby Gates see Click here for the BFI webpage.
1957 Happy Is the Bride Aunt Florence Joyce played the aunt of the bride in this comedy where tensions of preparing for the wedding make it iffy that the ceremony takes place at all.  Joyce was the family worrywort, constantly spouting rhymes predicting dire consequences if the groom sees the bride in her gown.  She had to play by ear Lohengrin's WEDDING MARCH on the organ at the finale.
1957 Blue Murder at St. Trinian's Sergeant Gates see
1957 The Good Companions Lady Parlitt Joyce played a titled lady who falls for the lead dancer in a barely professional revue, sending him flowers anonymously.  She is responsible for his missing a performance, when she invites him to her home and then puts a sleeping powder in his drink, so that he can get some rest.  Nevertheless, true love wins out, and they marry, which proves to be the success of some members of the troop, because she owns 2 London theatres.  Joyce had some wonderful business in her first scene where she sits on a cake in a restaurant, which she doesn't notice.
1961 The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's Sergeant Ruby Gates see
1963 The Old Dark House Agatha Femm A remake in title only of the classic 1932 horror film based on J.B. Priestly's novel Benighted.  Directed by William Castle.  The Femms are condemned to live in the titular leaky house through the terms of an ancestor's Will, or they won't inherit his money.  Joyce portrayed the dotty mother of twins played by Peter Bull.  Her character subliminated her frustrations by knitting, using up nearly 2 miles of wool annually.  One after another all the good actors are killed off, leaving only 3 Femms left for the limp comedic ending.  In an August 9, 1963 letter Joyce wrote to her best friend Virginia Graham:  "It is beyond words awful! Boring, bad and of incredible slowness . . . it is vulgar, dull and unforgivable. I was deeply ashamed at being seen it it."
1964 The Americanization of Emily Mrs. Barham The only film Joyce made in America; she played Julie Andrew's "crazy, tweedy mother" who is so numbed by the loss of her son and husband in World War II, she refuses to accept the reality of their deaths and instead pretends with euphoric Pollyanna cheerfulness that they have not been killed.  Joyce says the scene where James Garner makes her face reality, reducing her to tears, was the first dramatic scene she ever played.
1965 The Yellow Rolls-Royce Hortense Astor Joyce played in the last of three episodes as Ingrid Bergman's Virginian lady travelling-companion.  She called the role "yet another ninny with only one line of note."

After she retired from the stage in 1973, she continued to appear on TV, becoming a regular on the musical TV quiz programme FACE THE MUSIC from 1966 where she once identified Debussy's "La Fille au Cheveux de Lin" by a single note.  She also contributed to the BBC early morning programme THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.  Holding a copy of her first book, JOYCE GRENFELL REQUESTS THE PLEASURE, was her "favorite first".  When she promoted the book, she toured the U.K. and the U.S. and met her public where she was asked if she had any  special targets that she mocked.  In response, Joyce listed having no sense of humor, pomposity, false values and folly.  The second volume of her autobiography was entitled IN PLEASANT PLACES, from the psalm.  Her passport listed her profession as "writer/entertainer" which was both true and an understatement.

Her stage appearances were all in revues  (or later one women shows) and included:

She recorded the following comedy albums (most of these are out of general release; please don't contact me about where to purchase them):  



Hello Song I Like Life
Life and Literature Time to Waste
Thought for Today Three Brothers
Two Songs My Mother Taught Me Artist's Room
Nursery School Mediocre Waltz
Life Story Committee

1954 JOYCE GRENFELL REQUESTS THE PLEASURE (Philips BBL7004) (original cast recording of the British version of her show which opened at the Fortune Theatre on June 2, 1954; this was later released in the U.S. as the original cast recording of the Broadway version which opened at the Bijou Theatre on October 18, 1955) (DRG 5LS186).

Welcome Songs My Mother Taught Me:
The Music's Message      Hand Down My Bonnet
Mrs. Mendlicote      The Yellow Rose of Texas
Understanding Mother      Since Bacon Has Gone Up
Three Brothers      All Night
Palais Dancers      Sit Down, Sister
Ordinary Morning Hostess
Shirley's Girl Friend Farewell 
Folk Song (Flanders and Swan)

1957 JOYCE GRENFELL "AT HOME" (HMV CLP1155) (original cast recording of the show which toured the UK and opened at the Lyric Hammersmith in London on October 8, 1957 as JOYCE GRENFELL - A MISCELLANY)

Opening Number Old Joe Clark
Ballad Step Light Lady
Nursery School All the Pretty Little Horses
London-Scottish The Woman on the Bus
Introduction to Boat Train Introduction to Songs My Mother Taught Me
Boat Train Shirley's Girl Friend
Introduction to Joyful Noise Time
Joyful Noise It's Almost Tomorrow


Encores Songs My Mother Taught Me:
Nursery School--'Flowers'      I Heard a Voice
Picture Postcard      Snowball
What Shall I Wear?      All the Pretty Little Horses
Visitor Writer of Children's Books
Dear Francois Oh!  Mr. Du Maurier
I'm Going to See You Today Telephone Call
Shirley's Girl Friend--'Picnic' Old Tyme Dancing

1969 JOYCE (Columbia CS9952; also EMI SCX 6362) )  

Bring Back the Silence The Wedding is on Saturday
Old Girls' School Reunion Fan
Three Brothers I Wouldn't Go Back
Nicodemus Thursdays
Hostess Duet
Lally Tullett Nursery School (Going Home)
Hymn Slow Down
Wrong Songs for Wrong Singers (or Songs to Make You Sick)

1977 GEORGE, DON'T DO THAT (Starline)

Story Time Nativity Play
Flowers Sing-Song Time
Free Activity Period Going Home Time


There's Nothing New to Tell You Not in the Mood for News
Ethel A Terrible Worrier
Opera Interval Gipsy
Learn to Loosen Time to Waste
Mulgarth Street Unsuitable
I Like Life Visitor
Life Story Drifting
Eng. Lit Two Songs My Mother Taught Me
Green Summer Artists' Room
First Flight Leonie
Irish Folk Song Security Song
Life and Literature Ferryboats of Sydney
I'm Gwine Away Committee
One is One and All Alone Come Catch Me

1992 REQUESTS THE PLEASURE - THE BEST OF JOYCE GRENFELL (EMI 0777-80552) (a three CD compilation of earlier recordings, containing 61 selections)

I'm Going to See You Today (1964) Shirley's Girl Friend "Picnic" (1964)
Nursery School--Flowers (1964) Ethel
Learn to Loosen (The Music's Message) Opera Interval
Visitor Three Brothers
Old Tyme Dancing (Stately as a Galleon) (1964) Nursery School--Story Time
I Wouldn't Go Back Slow Down
Committee Two Character Studies:  Different Kinds of Mothers
Green Summer (In the Green Time of Moon Daisies) a) The American Mother
The Wedding is on Saturday b) The Village Mother
Narcissus (with Norman Wisdom) Unsuitable
The Old Girls' School Reunion One Is One And All Alone
Wrong Songs for Wrong Singers (or Songs To Make You Sick) It's Almost Tomorrow
Shirley's Girlfriend "Fun Fair" Encores (1964)
Dear Francois (1964) Nursery School--Nativity Play
Nicodemus The Woman on the Bus
Drifting Fan
Nursery School--Sing-Song Time Time
Ballad First Flight
Hostess There's Nothing New to Tell You
Artist's Room Shirley's Girlfriend "Foreign Fella"
Lullaby I Don't 'Arf Love You (with Norman Wisdom)
Opening Numbers Telephone Call (1964)
Oh! Mr. DuMaurier (1964) Bring Back the Silence
Nursery School--Free Activity Period Life and Literature
I Like Life Maud (from PENNY PLAIN)
A Terrible Worrier Eng. Lt. I
Hymn Joyful Noise (music Donald Swan)
Writer of Children's Books (1964) Life Story
Picture Postcard (Keep Sake - from PENNY PLAIN) (1964) Ferry Boats of Sydney
Boat Train Nursery School--Going Home Time
Duet London Scottish

Useful and Acceptable Gifts (An Institute Lecture Demonstration)


1997 ESSENTIAL JOYCE (Mr. Bongo)


Encores Unsuitable
Nursery School--Nativity Play Life Story
The Woman on the Bus Gipsy
Time Time to Waste
First Flight Two Songs My Mother Taught Me:
There's Nothing New to Tell You      I'll Lend You My Horse
Shirley's Girlfriend "Fun Fair"      Hand Me Down My Bonnet
Learn to Loosen (The Music's Message) Opera Interval
Narcissus (with Norman Wisdom) Lullaby
Nursery School--Sing-Song Time I Don't 'Arf Love You (with Norman Wisdom)
I Life Life Mulgarth Street
It's Almost Tomorrow Ethel
Boat Train Life and Literature
Ballad Green Summer (In the Green Time of Moon Daisies)
London Scottish Shirley's Girlfriend "Foreign Fella"
Artist's Room Leonie
If Love Were All (from BITTER SWEET) Drifting
Not in the Mood for News One is One and All Alone
Nursery School--Story Time The Party's Over Now (from WORDS AND MUSIC)


I'm Going to See You Today Three Brothers
Encores Shirley's Girl Friend
Picture Postcard Oh! Mr. DuMaurier
Dear Francois Boat Train
Old Girl's School Re-Union I Wouldn't Go Back
Joyful Noise Songs My Mother Taught Me
Nursery School Nursery School
Time Old Tyme Dancing

2000 JOYCE GRENFELL This CD is currently available from and contains:

Opening Numbers Nursery School (Flowers)
Nursery School I'm Going to See You Today
Joyful Noise Shirley's Girl Friend "Picnic"
Picture Postcard Oh! Mr. DuMaurier
What Shall I Wear Writer of Children's Books
Visitor Old Tyme Dancing
Dear Francois Telephone Call

2000 AN EVENING WITH JOYCE GRENFELL A 60-minute talk by Joyce recorded live at the Sir Nicholas Sekers Theatre, Whitehaven, Cumbria.

Joyce was a prodigious letter writer and, additionally, produced the following books:

All of Joyce's monologues and lyrics are copyrighted and cannot be published or performed until 2049 A.D. without the permission of the copyright owners.

Her final performance was in 1973 before the Queen and her guests in Windsor Castle.  She became ill in 1973 with an eye infection; she lost the sight in that eye and had to retire from the stage.  Six years later she was admitted to hospital to have the blind eye removed, as it had become cancerous.  She died a month later on November 30, 1979, at home.  On February 7, 1980, a Thanksgiving Service was held at Westminster Abbey where people lined up for hours for the 2000 seats.  On April 23, 1998 she was commemorated  (along with four other beloved UK comedians) by a 37p stamp, part of a set of five British stamps of Gerald Scarfe caricatures.  In 1998 the actress Maureen Lipman recorded some of Joyce's monologues on tape and CD under the title CHOICE GRENFELL.  Lipman also appeared in 1988 in a one-woman show as Joyce entitled RE:JOYCE and this is available as a CD (Legacy Records Ltd. LLCD 129) which I highly recommend.

I was lucky enough to be the successful bidder on eBay for a 1990 video compilation of monologues and songs of Joyce from 1972 British TV specials, including OLD GIRLS REUNION (Lumpy Latimer), SUNDAY MORNING (Joyce sings her worries in church about something she has left burning on her stove), A TERRIBLE WORRIER, WRONG SONGS FOR WRONG SINGERS (SONGS TO MAKE YOU SICK), MULGARTH STREET, ENG. LIT (pre-TV interview of author), A JOYFUL NOISE (3 ladies singing at echo-y Albert Hall), AN AMERICAN MOTHER, COME CATCH ME (song), STATELY AS A GALLEON (song), FIRST FLIGHT, NURSERY SCHOOL STORY TIME ("George, Don't Do That").   Click here for a Snowden photo of Joyce from the CD box.

In the liner notes for the 1964 recording JOYCE GRENFELL, Norman Newell writes:  Joyce Grenfell is known to millions for her masterful character studies whether they be on stage, television, radio or in films.  She has only to appear in a scene [to] steal it.  There is something about her that audiences immediately take to their hearts, for they recognize a friend, a neighbor, or a member of the family, in her characterizations . . .  Whether she is being funny or serious she never portrays her subjects with malice, but always with compassion and understanding.

Her long time friend Virginia Graham wrote of her:  The kernel of Joyce's character, both as a woman and an entertainer lay in her unswerving love of life.  Her capacity for enjoyment was limitless, as was her expectation of good . . .  Her sense of humor is apparent in all her works, but what is nice, and almost unique, is that she manages to be funny without being unkind . . . Mostly her characters were an amalgam of observation and imagination.  She was a great one for discovering, for exploring new sounds and sights and, particularly, people.

compiled by Judy Harris


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