Murray as "The Pub Landlord" in 2011
|Birth name||Alastair James Hay Murray|
10 May 1968 |
Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
|Medium||Stand-up, television, radio|
|Alma mater||St Edmund Hall, Oxford|
|Genres||Parody, political satire, character, musical and observational comedy|
|Subject(s)||Current events, British culture, British politics, French culture, Gender stereotypes, Family, Human interaction, History|
|Influences||Frank Skinner, Harry Hill, Peter Cook, John Cleese, Tony Hancock, Steve Martin|
|Influenced||Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps; Prince Harry|
|Spouse||Katherine Perry (1995-2000) (divorced);
Amber Hargreaves (2002- ) (separated, 2008)
|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 mock-xenophobic but stereotypical 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.
Early life and family background
Murray was born at 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 von Kuenburg family, nobility 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.
Personal life and campaigning
See also: Parliamentary candidacy
Murray married Amber Hargreaves, in 2002. The couple, who have two daughters, Scarlett and Willow, separated in 2008. Al Murray is also 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' successful High Court campaign for the right to free speech (over the sending of an allegedly "menacing" tweet). 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.
Career in entertainment
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 of guns, animals and a particularly impressive car boot; a combination that prompted an equal number of plaudits for vocal skill and complaints of tastelessness. With this act he supported Jim Tavaré in Leeds in Winter 1992. In 1994 - 1995 he was the drummer in the band Evangelista, in effect 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".
The Pub Landlord
His character "The Pub Landlord" is a stereotypical, right-wing British patriot avowing a dislike for anything "un-British". 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 is very different from Murray's real life public-school and Oxbridge background and first appeared in 1994 when Murray was the tour support act for Harry Hill. At that time part of a comedy band called "The Pub Band International" in which he played the drums, they were looking for a link to Hill's act. After trying out a character deemed not to have worked, on the eve of performing 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, ...A Glass of White Wine for the Lady (another catchphrase) and Giving it Both Barrels also ran to critical acclaim. When asked about the sitcom during live shows, in character as "The Pub Landlord", Murray claims to be unhappy with the television series, a joke some have taken literally.
His chat show Al Murray's Happy Hour began airing 13 January 2007 on ITV. The show has won a British Comedy Award and was nominated for a National Television Award. A new series returned on 12 September 2008, and of this Murray said:
"It goes without saying ... the trouble with telly these days is that the viewer is not credited with enough intelligence and the fact I'm back on is proof they know what's good for them".
In May 2011, Murray began hosting a new quiz show, Compete for the Meat on the UKTV channel Dave. The show is co-presented by ex-Blue Peter presenter, Zöe Salmon, with voice-overs from Jim Rosenthal. The prizes are: a frozen chicken for 1st place, sausages for 2nd place and Shame for the Losers! (3rd & 4th places).
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 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 a plane, to commemorate the battle.
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.
In 2007, Murray published the book The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense. It consists of "The Pub Landlord"'s "sage" advice, i.e. opinions and views on a range of topics including James Bond actors, religion, politics, television, films and Churchill quotations.
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 has 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".
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 UK 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 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”.
|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 Says 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|
- "The A-Z of laughter". Guardian Unlimited (London: The Guardian). 7 December 2003. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
- Cavendish, Dominic (3 March 2007). "Prime time gentlemen, please". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- "Al Murray's Biography". Chortle. Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
- "www.thepeerage.com". Thepeerage.com. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- Burke's Peerage.
- Burke's Peerage. 2003.
- Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2015
- "Al Murray". BBC Comedy. BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
- Irvine, Chris (2008-10-10). "Al Murray breaks up with wife". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Long Room goodbye for England's Ashes squad". Lords.org. 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- Dominic Casciani (2012-06-27). "Paul Chambers 'blow up' airport tweet appeal judgement reserved". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- "Perrier Comedy Awards". Retrieved 27 December 2006.
- Evangelista were Pat Reid (vocals), Martin Ellis (guitar), Paul Ewart (bass) and Al Murray (drums). Reid and Ellis were at school together in Crosby, Liverpool. Reid was at Oxford with Murray. The line up included different bass players of which Paul Ewart was the longest lasting.
- Fall Apart: The Evangelista Story (2002), at 1.40. http://www.gmfilm.co.uk/fall_apart.html This comment lead to great audience amusement when the film was screened at Pickles' 45th birthday in London in 2013. half of the band can be seen in a video by Pickles: https://vimeo.com/77492045 Pickles also produced an Evangelista CD in 2003 featuring Murray. Contrary to the film the press release claimed the band was active 1992-1995.
- Stewart Lee discusses whether all of Murray's audience realise the character is satirical in his book "How I Escaped My Certain Fate" (Faber and Faber, London, 2010) p. 293-4.
- "2001-2002 26th Laurence Olivier Awards". LA Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
- "Pints mean prizes". Chortle. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- "Al Murray: Time Gentlemen Please". Virgin Radio. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- Naughton, Philippe. "When Harry met Murray". The Times Online (London: The Times). Retrieved 7 January 2007.
- Penn, Elaine (6–12 September 2008). "Lager Than Life". TV Choice.
- Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow @ www.bbc.co.uk
- The Guardian.co.uk Interview 28 October 2007
- "Download Festival - T34". Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
- "60 SECONDS: Al Murray". Metro (Associated Metro Limited). Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- "Landlord pulls in stars". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on 25 January 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- "Putting the Al in altitude". Chortle. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
- IMDB Listing, An Audience with Al Murray, 19 March 2005
- IMDB Listing, Another Audience with Al Murray, 27 October 2007
- itunes.apple.com: The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense
- "Al Murray: His Gaff, His Rules". Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- "Al Murray's German Adventure". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-04-10. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Al Murray's German Adventure". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "The Cambodian Children's Charity ('CamKids')". Camkids.org. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "CamBuild - Background". Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
- 18 March 2011 (2011-03-18). "Stephen Fry Up wins Walkers Clash of the Comics for Red Nose Day". Talkingretail.com. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Bauer hires Al Murray for Planet Rock". Radio Today. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Al Murray to stand against UKIP's Nigel Farage". www.bbc.co.uk. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "The Guv's common sense message to the UK".
- "Last orders for Nigel Farage? Pub Landlord takes on Ukip". The Guardian. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- "Watch: Al Murray Pub Landlord to take on Nigel Farage". www.telegraph.co.uk. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
- Sky News
- Official website
- The Pub Landlord (Official site)
- 7 Day Saturday at BBC Programmes
- Stand up for slapstick (Colston Hall)
- Al Murray on Planet Rock
- Chortle page (including forthcoming dates)
- Al Murray at the Internet Movie Database
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