Murray as "The Pub Landlord" in 2011
10 May 1968 |
Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England
|Medium||Stand-up, television, radio|
|Alma mater||St Edmund Hall, Oxford|
|Genres||Parody, Political satire, Surreal humour, Character comedy, Musical comedy, Observational comedy, Blue comedy|
|Subject(s)||British culture, British politics, French culture, Gender stereotypes, Family, Human interaction, World history, Current events|
|Spouse||Katherine Perry (1995-2000) (divorced);
Amber Hargreaves (2002-08) (separated)
|Notable works and roles||The Pub Landlord;
Al Murray's Happy Hour;
Time Gentlemen Please;
Multiple Personality Disorder;
Fact Hunt; etc
His best-known character is "The Pub Landlord", a xenophobic publican. In 2003, Murray was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2007, he was voted the 16th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.
Murray was born at 44 High Street South, Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, only son of Lieut-Col. Ingram Bernard Hay Murray (a great-great-great-great-grandson of John, 3rd Duke of Atholl, who married Charlotte, Baroness Strange), by his wife Juliet Anne Thackeray, née Ritchie (a great-great-granddaughter of the celebrated novelist William Makepeace Thackeray). His grandfather, the former British ambassador Sir Ralph Murray, was from Scottish aristocracy and married into the Kuenberg family, Imperial Counts, of the Holy Roman Empire. His patrilineal great-great-grandfather, Dr George Murray, was Bishop of Rochester, while Sir Edward Leigh MP is his third cousin. Al Murray is in remainder both to English and Scottish peerage titles, including the barony of Strange and the dukedom of Atholl.
Murray married Amber Hargreaves in 2002. The couple, who have two daughters, Scarlett and Willow, separated in 2008. Murray is a keen cricket fan, and was invited to attend a farewell lunch for the England cricket team before their departure for the 2013 Ashes series.
Murray, together with Stephen Fry, supported Paul Chambers' High Court appeals after Chambers had been arrested for contravening the Communications Act 2003 when a joke tweet was regarded by police as "menacing" and a terrorist threat. An appeal against Chambers' conviction was successful. In August 2014, Murray was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
Murray started out touring with fellow comedians including Harry Hill and Frank Skinner. He won the Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1999, after being nominated in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He started out with an act that involved sound-effect impressions, including guns, animals and a car boot. With this act he supported Jim Tavaré in Leeds in Winter 1992. In 1994-95, he was the drummer in the band Evangelista, the house band at Stewart Lee's and Simon Munnery's experimental Cluub Zarathustra in London.Film maker Martin Pickles made a short film about the band in 2002. At this time the lead singer Reid described Murray as "he's still not a household name, but anyone who's into comedy knows who Al Murray is".
This character professes an apparent particular animosity towards Germans and the French; he will challenge the audience to name any country in the world before producing some plausible instance of Britain bettering it. The character also has a great love for the British 1970s rock band Queen, often getting musician(s) on his show to perform one of Queen's tunes in their own style.
The character first appeared in 1994 during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in the show "Pub Internationale", with Harry Hill and Matthew Bradstock-Smith (who played "Little Alan" as well as the keyboards in Hill's Edinburgh, radio and TV shows). The show featured the "Pub Band", with Murray playing drums and compering. After trying out a character deemed not to have worked, at the opening show Murray suggested saying that the compere had not made it to the show and that the barman in the venue, the Pleasance Cabaret Bar, had offered to fill in. At the Edinburgh Festival, Murray came up with "The Pub Landlord".
Murray then made his first television appearances on Hill's TV show playing his big brother Alan ("If it's too hard, I can't understand it!"), and subsequently featured in a short film, Pub Fiction (1995).
Murray's theatre show in "Pub Landlord" character My Gaff, My Rules was short-listed for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2002, and he has also appeared in character as the central focus of the television series Time Gentlemen Please, as well as a number of other television appearances, including the An Audience with... strand. Subsequent theatre tours were: ...And A Glass of White Wine for the Lady (another catchphrase) and Giving it Both Barrels.
The Pub Landlord has hosted several television programmes including Fact Hunt, named after the fictional quiz machine of the same name from Time Gentlemen Please, the BBC One show Live at the Apollo and UKTV channel Dave's Compete for the Meat, which is co-hosted by Zöe Salmon, with voice-overs from Jim Rosenthal. His chat show Al Murray's Happy Hour began airing 13 January 2007 on ITV. The show has won a British Comedy Award for "Best New Entertainment Comedy". Murray was the headliner of a July 2009 episode of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, filmed at the Brighton Dome.
Murray has twice appeared in the An Audience with... format - a televised show where the audience is made up solely of his peers i.e. other actors, actresses, performers and media personalities. In 2005, he recorded An Audience with Al Murray for the ITV network, and this was shown on 19 March of that year; and on 27 October 2007 Another Audience with Al Murray was broadcast, by the same TV channel.
Murray has written four books in his Pub Landlord guise: The Pub Landlord's Book Of British Common Sense, The Pub Landlord's Think Yourself British, The Pub Landlord's Great British Quiz Book, and Let's Re-Great Britain.
As a teenager, Murray was a drummer in the "big band" at Bedford School, and also played percussion in the Bedfordshire County Youth Orchestra. He played drums on the music for "The Pub Landlord" TV series and during an appearance on "Happy Hour" by Phil Collins they performed a duet. He also plays the drums for the rock cover band T-34 and appeared at the Download Festival in 2010, returning once again in 2011.
In 2004, Murray appeared as a contestant in the first series of Hell's Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay's cookery based reality show on ITV, and in 2005 appeared as a contestant on Comic Relief Does Fame Academy on BBC One. Murray presented Al Murray's Road to Berlin on the Discovery Channel. This was a series about the last phase of the Second World War, taking him from the beaches of Normandy, through Arnhem and up the Rhine, ending in Berlin. In the series he drove around in a restored Willys Jeep, and interviewed survivors from both sides of the war. In the episode about Operation Market Garden he parachuted, together with veterans, from an aircraft, to commemorate the battle.
In late 2010, Murray made a documentary on German culture for BBC4 Al Murray's German Adventure in which he presented a different side of the German nation from the one portrayed by "The Pub Landlord" character.
Murray invented his own crisps - branded "Steak and Al Pie" - as entered in a "crisp competition" hosted by Gary Lineker, used to raise money for Comic Relief. The other flavours were "Jimmy Con Carne" (Jimmy Carr), "Stephen Fry-Up" (Stephen Fry) and "Frank Roast Dinner" (Frank Skinner). The winner was Stephen Fry-up at 27%, with Al's in 2nd with 25%. The other two got 24% each.
On 8 December 2012, Murray appeared on the ITV special The McFly Show starring British pop band McFly. He played the band's drummer in character as "The Pub Landlord" while playing the drums with McFly for their cover version of the Queen song "Don't Stop Me Now".
Since May 2013, Murray has hosted a show on Bauer's digital radio station Planet Rock called Defender of the Planet Rock Tradition. And he also had a special guest star appearance in the children's comedy Horrible Histories.
In 2014, he appeared as Jon Westmore in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern. He also wrote and presented the TV documentary Al Murray's Great British Spy Movies on BBC Four. A fan of the rock band Genesis, Murray contributed to the BBC's documentary about the band Genesis: Together and Apart.
In September 2015, Murray co founded the British Drum Company.
On 14 January 2015, Murray announced the formation of the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP) and declared his candidacy, deploying his Pub Landlord persona, for the seat of South Thanet running against UKIP leader Nigel Farage, as parliamentary candidate in the 2015 general election. Murray's agent, Dan Lloyd, told the BBC: "it's definitely happening". The party's logo is an upside-down pound sign, not dissimilar to UKIP's purple and gold pound sign. Murray said: "it seems to me that the UK is ready for a bloke waving a pint around, offering common sense solutions", adding: "let it be known that like many of the parliamentary hopefuls in the forthcoming election, I have no idea where South Thanet is - but did that stop Margaret Thatcher from saving the Falkland Islands? No!"
Farage appeared to welcome his new opponent on Twitter, saying "the more, the merrier", and a spokesperson for the UKIP MEP said: "at last, serious competition in the constituency". The Conservative candidate, Craig Mackinlay, said he enjoyed Murray's video and his proclamations but was not worried that the comedian would split the anti-UKIP vote. Finally, the Labour candidate, Will Scobie, insisted it was "always good to have people putting their names forward to stand" and that Murray would "certainly make things interesting". When nominations for South Thanet were released on 9 April 2015, it was confirmed that Murray would appear on the ballot paper with no description, rather than his FUKP name and emblem.
The results of the election were announced on 8 May, revealing that Murray garnered 318 votes. This number of votes was higher than the average votes received by candidates from, amongst others, the Communist, Socialist and BNP parties.[not in citation given] When it was announced that Farage had failed to get elected, coming second in the poll to the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay, Murray's reaction - feigning shock and clapping on stage - garnered widespread media attention. Speaking to the media during the vote count, Murray invited Farage to a drink in his pub to drown his sorrow at losing.
|Live - My Gaff, My Rules||24 November 2003||Live at London's Playhouse Theatre|
|...And A Glass of White Wine for the Lady!: Recorded Live at the Playhouse London||22 November 2004||Live at London's Playhouse Theatre|
|Giving It Both Barrels: Live||29 May 2006||Live at London's Bloomsbury Theatre|
|Live at the London Palladium||19 November 2007||Live at London's Palladium Theatre|
|Beautiful British Tour: Live at the O2||16 November 2009||Live at London's O2 Arena|
|Barrel of Fun: Live||22 November 2010||Live at London's Hammersmith Apollo|
|The Only Way Is Epic||26 November 2012||Live at Brighton's Theatre Royal|
|One Man, One Guvnor||24 November 2014||Live at Bath's Theatre Royal|
|The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense||11 October 2007|
|The Pub Landlord's Think Yourself British||5 October 2009|
|The Pub Landlord's Great British Pub Quiz Book||28 October 2010|
|Watching War Films with My Dad||24 October 2013|
|Let's Re-Great Britain||1 April 2015|