|Murray Walker OBE|
Walker in 2009
|Born||Graeme Murray Walker
10 October 1923
Hall Green, Birmingham, England
|Years active||1948-2001, 2005- (occasional work)|
BBC Sport (1976-1996, 2009-) [Freelance]ITV Sport (1997-2001)
Graeme Murray Walker, OBE (known as Murray Walker; born 10 October 1923) is a semi-retired Formula One (F1) motorsport commentator and journalist. For most of his career he worked for the BBC, but when it lost the contract for F1 coverage to the company ITV, Walker continued his commentating after the change of broadcaster.
He has a distinctive, enthusiastic commentary style. Since 1978, British television commentary of the Formula 1 seasons has been used by other broadcasters right around the world, including Australia and Japan. He was an exponent of the commentator's curse, noting in an interview that he might say how well a driver was racing or that they would probably win the race, only to have them retire or crash out of the race shortly thereafter, hence his catchphrase "...Unless I'm very much mistaken..." which might lead shortly after to a correction "...And I am very much mistaken...".
He is known for his gentlemanly and considerate conduct, seeing the best in drivers who had attracted controversy. He rarely criticised drivers and preferred to give the benefit of the doubt in attributing blame for incidents. One example of this was during the 1994 Australian Grand Prix where, following the controversial crash between Michael Schumacher and Walker's close friend Damon Hill which decided the World Drivers' Championship in the German's favor, Walker, unlike his fellow commentators at the time, most notably former 500cc Motorcycle World Champion Barry Sheene, declined to blame Schumacher outright for the crash.
Life outside commentary 
Walker was born in Hall Green, Birmingham, England. His father Graham was a despatch rider and works motorcyclist for Norton Motorcycle Company, who participated in the Isle of Man TT and was Sales competition Director at the Rudge-Whitworth Motorcycle company. Walker attended Highgate School and in World War II he graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys. He went on to command a Sherman Tank and participate in the Battle of the Reichswald with the 4th Armoured Brigade. He left the army having attained the rank of captain and then worked in advertising for Dunlop and Aspro. He was then employed by the Masius advertising agency, with clients including Mars, Vauxhall Motors and British Rail. He did not retire from this until the age of 59, long after he was famed as a commentator. He also briefly competed in motorcycle races himself.
Walker is often wrongly attributed with having invented the famous slogan "A Mars a day helps you work rest and play": "[it] was something that I administered, but I never invented it. I'll tell you how it got ascribed to me. It got put into an obituary file, maybe all of my obituary files, and I can't get rid of it. It's amazing the way it sticks."
Walker did, however, create the slogan "Trill makes budgies bounce with health" - a famous advertising slogan for bird seed in the 1960s as well as the slogan "Opal Fruits, made to make your mouth water." 
Career as a commentator 
Walker made his first broadcast at Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in 1948. By 1949 he was commentating on races alongside Max Robertson, although it wasn't until the late 1970s that each Formula 1 race was given extensive coverage on British television. He did occasional Formula 1 commentaries during the 1970s, going full-time for the 1978 season. He commentated on Formula 1 through to the 2001 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
His first regular work was on radio coverage of the Isle of Man TT, initially alongside his father. After Graham's death in 1962, Murray took over the lead role. He covered motocross (initially for ITV) during the 1960s and rallycross in the 1970s and early 1980s. He occasionally commentated on motorcycle racing and rallying. Walker also covered the BTCC for the BBC between 1988 and 1997, and the Macao event for Hong Kong TV on nine occasions.
On Formula One coverage from 1980 to 1993, Walker struck up a surprisingly successful, but extremely popular, double act with 1976 World Champion James Hunt. Initially they did not get on, as Hunt's interests, personality, and private life appeared to have little in common with Walker's. However Murray, being the gentleman that he is, never let his personal feelings about Hunt's private life interfere with their work, indeed the pair eventually became good friends. Murray and James were to work together for more than a decade at the BBC, until Hunt's sudden death from a heart attack the day after the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix. When in the commentary booth together, Walker would provide his typically animated descriptions of the action, with Hunt bringing in his expert knowledge, and often opinionated nature, in his co-commentary role.
After Hunt died, former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer joined Walker in the commentary box until the end of 1996. The following year, the television rights for the UK coverage transferred to ITV, and Walker followed. His co-commentator from the 1997 season onwards until his retirement from commentating was another F1 driver Martin Brundle. There were few Grands Prix between 1978 and 1996 that Walker did not commentate on while employed by the BBC, usually as a result of him actually commentating elsewhere. Some of these included the 1979 Belgian Grand Prix (Simon Taylor), 1981 and 1984 German Grand Prix's (both commentated by Barrie Gill), the 1985 German Grand Prix (Tony Jardine) and 1988 Hungarian Grand Prix (Simon Taylor).
Murray also wrote a series of annuals for the Grand Prix season, Murray Walker's Grand Prix Year, for Hazelton Publishing from 1987 to 1997.
In December 2000 Walker announced he was to retire from Formula One commentating. Walker's final Formula One television commentary was the 2001 United States Grand Prix which was also the second F1 race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Upon his retirement, Walker was awarded an original brick from "The Brickyard" by track president Tony George, an honour very rarely bestowed on anyone other than the winning driver of a major race at the venue, such is his standing in the motor racing community.
In November 1997, Walker was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree from Bournemouth University. He was later honoured, in July 2005, with an Honorary Doctorate from the Middlesex University, London.
Later years 
In October 2005, it was announced that Walker would be returning to the microphone as the BBC's voice of the new Grand Prix Masters series. After providing the commentary for the inaugural race in South Africa, in January 2006 BBC Radio 5 Live announced that Walker would be part of their team for their coverage of subsequent races.
Years of exposure to loud engines and age-related hearing problems left Walker with hearing loss in both ears. In 2006 he became chief ambassador for David Ormerod Hearing Centres, the high street Audiology chain that fitted his hearing aids.
In March 2006, the Honda Racing F1 Team, formerly British American Racing, announced that Walker would become its team ambassador for half of the 2006 season's 18 Grands Prix, starting with the San Marino Grand Prix in April. Walker welcomed Honda Racing's VIP guests and entertained them with his F1 commentary.
In March 2006 Walker returned to the microphone for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar round in Adelaide, held on a modified version of the Adelaide Street Circuit used for the Formula One Australian Grand Prix from 1985 until 1995. Then in April he commentated on the Australian Grand Prix for Australia's Formula One broadcaster Network Ten, showing he had lost none of his legendary commentary voice. He was also Sky Sports' commentator for their coverage of Grand Prix Masters.
In March 2007 Walker again returned to the microphone for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar round, and was awarded a Lifetime Infinite Pass to the event by organisers at a ceremony on pit straight, shortly before the main race. In March 2007 he was again part of Network Ten’s commentary team for the Australian Grand Prix.
In June 2007 Walker visited the Isle of Man to celebrate the Centenary of the Isle of Man TT and work on a DVD documentary about the event, TT: Centenary Celebration with Murray Walker, which was released later in the year.
In November 2008, Walker's presence in the BBC's recovered coverage of F1 - as a website columnist - was confirmed. Earlier that year, while being interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live, Walker was asked if he'd consider a return to the TV commentary box. He answered, "Never say never".
Now in his late eighties, Walker still remains in the public eye and contributes to the sport that is synonymous to his name, although appearances and contributions are a lot less frequent.
On 5 June 2011, a documentary entitled 'Life in the Fast Lane' premiered on BBC 2 that looked into his life, particularly his shaping of the sport we are accustomed to today. The programme itself featured him re-living his tank commander past and rides on classic scramble bikes. Memorable moments of his commentating career are also re-lived, and the documentary also accompanies Walker, aged 87, to Australia to experience the thrills he once faced at the opening race of the season.
On 9 July 2011, he returned to BBC F1 on BBC Five Live and BBC One as a co-commentator for Free Practice 3, and appeared on the Qualifying show alongside Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan, David Coulthard and his former co-commentator Martin Brundle as well as 5live F1 special and occasional commentary on the race on BBC Radio Five Live. He also returned again in 2012.
See also 
- Walker, Murray (2002). Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0-00-766373-0.
- He was an accounts director at the company which created the slogan "A Mars a day, helps you work rest and play"
- Owen, Oliver (2007-07-01). "Interview: Murray Walker | Sport | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "Murray attends as F1 legend honoured". The Shuttle. 20 August 2008. Retrieved 3 April 2009. "I made my first ever broadcast from Shelsley Walsh in 1948..."
- Leonard, Tom (2000-12-12). "Murray Walker quits while he's ahead". The Telegraph.
- United Kingdom. "Bournemouth University". Bournemouth.ac.uk. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "GPM - Murray Walker returns". Uk.sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "Murray Walker makes F1 comeback with Honda". F1Technical.net. Retrieved 6 June 2011.
- Hamilton, Fiona. The Times (London) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article2112643.ece
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- "Beeb Presenters - Top Gear.com". Sundayafternoonclub.blogs.topgear.com. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
- "Murray Walker: Life in the fast lane". BBC SPORT. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-05.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Murray Walker|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Murray Walker|
- Murray's F1 Video Blog
- Murray Walker Agent
- Murray Walker's appearance on This Is Your Life
- Murray Walker quotes
- Murray Walker at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
- Murray Walker: Life in the fast lane