Julian Clary

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Julian Clary
Julian Clary 2008 (cropped).JPG
Clary performing in
The Lovely Russell in 2008
Birth nameJulian Peter McDonald Clary
Born (1959-05-25) 25 May 1959 (age 63)
Surbiton, Surrey, England[1]
MediumBooks, radio, stand-up comedy, television
Years active1981–present
GenresAlternative comedy, camp, innuendo
SpouseIan Mackley (m. 2016)
Notable works and rolesSticky Moments
Murder Most Fab
Strictly Come Dancing
Celebrity Big Brother 10

Julian Peter McDonald Clary (born 25 May 1959) is an English actor, comedian, novelist and presenter. He began appearing on television in the mid-1980s.[1] Since then he has also acted in films, television and stage productions, numerous pantomimes and was the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 10 in 2012.

Early life and education[edit]

Clary was born on 25 May 1959 in Surbiton, Surrey, to Brenda (née McDonald) Clary, a probation officer, and Peter J. Clary, a police officer. He was brought up in Teddington, Middlesex, with two older sisters. By his own account, he was conceived "in broad daylight" in Clacton-on-Sea in 1958.[2] Two of his great-grandparents were Germans who had emigrated to Britain at the end of the nineteenth century.[3] He and his siblings were raised as Roman Catholics. He attended St Benedict's School, Ealing[4] and, later, he studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths' College, University of London.

Stand-up comedy[edit]

Clary is an openly gay comedian who refers to himself as a "renowned homosexual" and is known for his outrageous and flamboyant costumes and make-up, and interactions with his audience such as looking in their bags, comments on their attire and flirting with straight men in the audience. For those who get too close he is quick to respond "Don't touch me". He has been assisted by Hugh Jelly and others in audience participation segments.

Clary began his career under the name Leo Hurll, a fake keyboardist for pop band Thinkman (a recording project conceived by Rupert Hine).[5][6] He entered the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s, first under the alias Gillian Pieface and later as The Joan Collins Fan Club. He wore heavy glam make-up and dressed in outrageous clothes, often involving leather/PVC and hinting at bondage. His pet dog Fanny the Wonderdog, a whippet mongrel, also featured in performances.[7]

Since then, Clary has undertaken several successful tours of his stage act, some of which have been released on home video, including:

  • The Mincing Machine Tour (1989)
  • My Glittering Passage (1993)
  • Natural Born Mincer (2003)
  • Lord of the Mince (2009–10)
  • Position Vacant: Apply Within (2012–13) In April 2014 he took the show to Australia and New Zealand.[8]
  • The Joy of Mincing (2016)[9]
  • Born To Mince (2019)[10]

He was named Ambassador for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe, responsible for promoting the festival internationally.[11]


After a number of appearances on Friday Night Live in the mid- to late 1980s,[12] Clary co-hosted the short-lived ITV game show Trick or Treat in 1989 with Mike Smith, before achieving greater success later that year with his own high-camp Channel 4 game show, Sticky Moments with Julian Clary.[13] More a vehicle for his brand of humour than a genuine gameshow, Sticky Moments was a light-hearted "non-quiz" satire, with him often awarding points because he liked the contestants, rather than because they possessed a particular skill or aptitude. He later starred in the 1992 audience participation sitcom Terry and Julian with Lee Simpson, again for Channel 4.[13]

Also in 1992, he played a cameo guest star part in the BBC drama Virtual Murder. In the episode "A Dream of Dracula", he played an undertaker, alongside other guest stars including Alfred Marks, Jill Gascoine, Ronald Fraser and Peggy Mount. In the same year, while visiting Australia, he made a controversial appearance alongside Rex Mossop on Tonight Live with Steve Vizard, during which Mossop espoused homophobic opinions.[14] He also appeared in an episode of the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? in 1991.

On 12 December 1993, he made an infamous appearance at the British Comedy Awards, where he made a joke comparing the set to Hampstead Heath (some of which is known as a cruising area for gay men) and stated he had just been fisting the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont, who had presented an award earlier in the ceremony. Due to the instant audience reaction, the punchline ("Talk about a red box!") was widely overlooked.[15][16][17] Although the joke was met with uproarious laughter from the audience and Lamont himself did not complain over it, he was criticised in some newspapers, particularly by the Daily Mail and The Sun, who both launched a campaign to have him banned from television.[18] Despite these attempts, Clary's next series was the BBC's studio-based All Rise for Julian Clary in 1996, in which he played a judge in a mock courtroom setting.[7]

From 1998 to 2001, he hosted three series of the Sky TV show Prickly Heat, the first two series with Davina McCall, the last one with Denise van Outen.[19] Additionally, from 1999 to 2002 he was the face of Daz laundry detergent, taking over from Shane Richie, Michael Barrymore and Danny Baker. He is a recurring performer and one of the most popular performers in the ITV Pantos. He played "First Henchman" and "Tim" in 1998's Jack and The Beanstalk; "The Good Fairy" in 2000's Cinderella; "The Genie of the Lamp" in 2000's Aladdin; and, possibly his favourite character, "Chris the Cat" in 2002's Dick Whittington.[20] In 1999, he became a team captain on the quiz show It's Only TV...but I Like It, alongside Phill Jupitus and Jonathan Ross.[21] In 2003, he presented the first series of the Japanese TV clip show, Sushi TV for Challenge. In 2004, he took part in the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, finishing third with his partner Erin Boag.[7] In 2005, he hosted Come and Have A Go for the National Lottery.[22]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 2001 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel during the curtain call of the pantomime Cinderella at the Richmond Theatre.[citation needed]

On 1 February 2006, he appeared on the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?, a genealogy series which traced his ancestors to a World War I flight engineer and German immigrants among both his mother's and father's forebears.[23] In May 2006, and again in April 2008, he hosted an episode of the topical quiz show Have I Got News for You.[12]

In September 2006, he returned to primetime TV as presenter and judge on Channel 5's brand new celebrity performance programme The All Star Talent Show. He was joined by two guest judges every week to assess celebrity performances and co-presented with Myleene Klass and Andi Peters. He also narrated the Channel 5 children's series The Little Princess with Jane Horrocks.[24]

In November 2006, he appeared on QI,[25] a panel game/comedy show hosted by Stephen Fry and also appeared on an episode of The New Paul O'Grady Show.

In 2007, he made a cameo appearance in the Australian soap opera, Neighbours, in scenes filmed in London with Natalie Bassingthwaighte.[26]

From 20 March 2007, Clary presented a brand-new show for the BBC called The Underdog Show. Celebrities and children were paired up with rescue dogs. They then commenced training and competed against each other in obedience and agility trials in a live arena. The show ran until 26 April 2007.[27]

He also appeared on television regularly in 2008, starting in January when he was drafted in as a relief presenter for This Morning,[12] co-presenting alongside Fern Britton and Ruth Langsford during Phillip Schofield's absence. In April, he once again fronted the BBC One series Have I Got News for You, and he filmed an episode of Celebrity Bargain Hunt in May. He was also a short-notice guest on The Paul O'Grady Show in October 2008, after Peter Andre and Katie Price could not appear (Clary and O'Grady are friends and neighbours).[28]

In 2012, Clary was one of the contestants in Celebrity Big Brother 10 and went on to win the series. In 2013, he was a judge on the ITV entertainment series Your Face Sounds Familiar, alongside Emma Bunton.[7]

In March 2015, it was announced that Clary would take part in ITV's Give a Pet a Home show which works alongside the RSPCA in Birmingham.[29] The series began airing on 15 April 2015 for six episodes.

From 1 August 2015, Clary presented Nature Nuts with Julian Clary, a new three-part nature show for ITV.[30]

Theatre and pantomime[edit]

Clary played Leigh Bowery in the West End of London musical Taboo in 2002. He also took part in the touring production in 2004.[7]

In Spring 2007, Clary did a theatre tour of the UK with his show An Evening with... Julian Clary. From 2 October 2007, he played the much coveted role of 'Emcee', in Rufus Norris's Olivier Award-winning production of Cabaret, which was in its second year in the West End. Clary was with the show until 19 April 2008. The following year he took part in the Strictly Come Dancing Tour in January and February 2009. He was partnered with Lilia Kopylova.[7]

Clary starred as Michael in Le Grand Mort, a play written specifically for him by playwright Stephen Clark (prior to his death in 2016), opposite James Nelson-Joyce as Tim from 20 September to 28 October 2017 at Trafalgar Studios 2 in London's West End.

Clary was due to appear as Norman in a UK tour of The Dresser by Ronald Harwood, alongside Matthew Kelly as 'Sir' in September 2020, however due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the production has been postponed to 2021.[31]

Clary has appeared in numerous Christmas pantomimes and has recently become a regular star of the London Palladium pantomimes. In December 2019, Clary was inducted in a ceremony held by Andrew Lloyd Webber onto the Wall of Fame, joining the many stars that have appeared at the Palladium.[32]

Year Pantomime / Show Role Venue
1998 Jack and the Beanstalk Henchman / Tim The Old Vic, London (recorded for ITV)
1999 Cinderella The Good Fairy Brixton Academy (recorded for ITV)
2000 Aladdin Genie of the Lamp New Wimbledon Theatre (recorded for ITV)
2000–01 Cinderella Dandini Theatre Royal, Brighton
2001 Dick Whittington Chris the Cat New Wimbledon Theatre (recorded for ITV)
2001–02 Cinderella Dandini Theatre Royal, Richmond
2002 Taboo Leigh Bowery Venue Theatre, London
2002–03 Cinderella Dandini New Victoria Theatre, Woking
2003–04 Cinderella Dandini Birmingham Hippodrome
2004 Taboo Leigh Bowery UK tour
2004–05 Cinderella Dandini Bristol Hippodrome
2005–06 Cinderella Dandini Liverpool Empire Theatre
2006–07 Dick Whittington Spirit of the Bells Derngate Theatre, Northampton
2007 Cabaret Emcee Lyric Theatre, London
2009 Strictly Come Dancing Live! Himself UK tour
2009–10 Cinderella Dandini Hawth Theatre, Crawley
2010–11 Dick Whittington Spirit of the Bells Birmingham Hippodrome
2011–12 Cinderella Dandini Theatre Royal, Plymouth
2012–13 Jack and the Beanstalk Spirit of the Beans Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
2013–14 New Theatre, Cardiff
2014–15 Cinderella Dandini Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton
2015–16 Aladdin Spirit of the Ring Birmingham Hippodrome
2016–17 Cinderella Dandini London Palladium
2017 Le Grand Mort Michael Trafalgar Studios 2, London
2017–18 Dick Whittington Spirit of the Bells London Palladium
2018–19 Snow White The Man in the Mirror
2019–20 Goldilocks and the Three Bears The Ring Master
2020–21 Pantoland at the Palladium Himself
2021 The Dresser Norman UK tour
2021–22 Pantoland at the Palladium Himself London Palladium
2022–23 Jack and the Beanstalk Spirit of the Beans


Clary appeared in the film Carry On Columbus (1992),[33] an unsuccessful attempt to revive the "Carry On" series of films. It was widely panned by critics, but was more financially profitable than the two other Columbus films released the same year: 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.

Clary returned to film in 2001 in the film The Baby Juice Express [34] which starred Lisa Faulkner, Samantha Womack, Ruth Jones and David Seaman, about a prisoner who is desperate to find some way of conceiving with his wife whilst he is in prison, but the sperm ends up getting hijacked. It was released on DVD in 2004.


Clary appeared on The Big Fun Show in 1988.[35]

In 1992 Clary hosted a radio show for the BBC called Intimate Contact, the premise of which was for him to act as a genial 'Mr Fix-it' for a wide range of 'punter' problems. Clary attempted to solve these issues over the telephone, with the assistance of roving reporter "Hugh Jelly" (actor Philip Herbert). It originally aired on BBC Radio 1 for two series; the pilot and 6-part first series have since been repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra a number of times.[36][37]

He has also often been a guest on Just a Minute, the BBC Radio 4 comedy show.[7]


Clary has released two large format comedy books: My Life With Fanny The Wonder Dog (1989) and How To Be A Man (1992). Between 2005 and 2008, Clary wrote a fortnightly column for the New Statesman magazine.


He published an autobiography, A Young Man's Passage, which covers his life and career up to the 1993 "Norman Lamont incident" at the British Comedy Awards (see above). Then in 2021 "The Lick of Love: How Dogs Changed My Life" telling his life through his pets to more recent times.

  • Clary, Julian (7 April 2005). A Young Man's Passage. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-190872-0.
  • Clary, Julian (October 2021). The Lick of Love: How Dogs Changed My Life. Quercus. ISBN 978-1529412505.


In 2007, Clary released his first novel, Murder Most Fab, published by Ebury Press. His second novel, Devil in Disguise, was published in 2009.

Children's books ("The Bolds")[edit]

Since 2015 he has written a number of books for children:


Clary often performs comical renditions of musical numbers in his stage and television appearances, ranging from old classics to original material. He released a music single in 1988 (credited as the Joan Collins Fan Club), a humorous rendition of "Leader of the Pack", which he often performed in his stage and television appearances at the time. The single was produced by Rupert Hine and reached no. 60 in the UK Singles Chart.[38] Another single, "Wandrin' Star", was released in 1990. The single was backed with the self-penned track "Uncanny and Unnatural".

Personal life[edit]

Clary’s boyfriend Christopher died of AIDS in 1991.[39] Clary has been in a relationship with Ian Mackley since 2005, and the couple were married on 19 November 2016.[40] They lived at Goldenhurst Farm, a seventeenth-century manor house once owned by Noël Coward, in Aldington, Kent until 2018.[41][42] Clary also has a house in Camden, North London.[43]

On 7 September 2005, the University of London's Goldsmiths College made Clary an Honorary Fellow.[44] In July 2014, the University of East Anglia awarded Clary an honorary Doctorate of Civil Law.[45]

Stand-up VHS and DVD[edit]

Title Released Notes
The Mincing Machine Tour 1989 Live at London's Hackney Empire
My Glittering Passage 1993 Live at Swansea's Grand Theatre
Live – Lord of the Mince 29 November 2010 Live at Salford's Lowry Theatre


  1. ^ a b Jackson, Tina (24 July 2010). "My Family Values: Julian Clary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  2. ^ Clary, Julian (2011). A Young Man's Passage. Random House. p. 11. ISBN 9781448116584. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  3. ^ "WDYTYA? Series Two: Celebrity Gallery". BBC. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  4. ^ "Close Up talks to camp comedian Julian Clary". tvnz.co.nz. Retrieved 12 May 2010.:(Commentary; "The conservatively raised Catholic with the flawless skin is now happy to confront aging and he is taking it literally in his stride.")
  5. ^ "visible in the video for the song "Formula"". YouTube.com. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  6. ^ Julian Clary confirms this in his autobiography, A Young Man's Passage.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "The Theatre Workshop: Julian Clary". Thetheatreworkshop.com. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Julian Clary's Official Website". Julianclary.co.uk. 27 April 2014. Archived from the original on 4 June 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  9. ^ "Julian Clary on Twitter". Twitter.com. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  10. ^ Guide, British Comedy (7 June 2018). "Julian Clary announces 2019 tour". Comedy.co.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  11. ^ "British comic Julian Clary named 2016 Fringe ambassador". Adelaidefringe.com.au. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "Interview: Julian Clary, comedian". The Scotsman. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  13. ^ a b Millard, Rosie (23 October 2011). "Sticky Moments". The Independent. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Tonight Live with Steve Vizard". Seven Network (via YouTube). 29 October 1992. Retrieved 17 April 2022.
  15. ^ "Television company apologises for comic's lewd jibe at Lamont". The Independent. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  16. ^ "STICKY MOMENTS". The Independent. 22 October 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  17. ^ "6) "Talk about a red box!" – TV Cream". Tvcream.co.uk. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  18. ^ Roberts, Scott (7 October 2014). "Julian Clary: No regrets over my infamous joke about Norman Lamont". Pink News. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  19. ^ "Van Outen joins Clary for second run of Prickly Heat". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  20. ^ "Television Pantomimes". Its-behind-you.com. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  21. ^ Lane, Harriet (8 December 2002). "Behind you? Oh, no it's not". The Observer. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  22. ^ "National Lottery Come and Have a Go ..." Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are?: Julian Clary". Whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  24. ^ "About Julian Clary". Julianclary.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  25. ^ Blake, Elissa (12 April 2014). "Julian Clary: The cutting-edge riposte". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  26. ^ Donaldson, Brian. "5 things you might not know about Julian Clary". List.co.uk. The List. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  27. ^ "The Underdog Show: About the show". Bbcattic.org. BBC. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  28. ^ Jackson, Tina (24 July 2010). "My family values: Julian Clary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  29. ^ "Give a Pet a Home on ITV". Itv.com. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Nature Nuts with Julian Clary Episode 1". Itv.com. 2 August 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  31. ^ Comerford, Ruth (25 October 2019). "Julian Clary and Matthew Kelly to star in UK tour of The Dresser". The Stage. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Julian Clary joins The London Palladium Wall of Fame | LW Theatres News". LW Theatres. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Carry On Columbus: cast list". Film.list.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  34. ^ "British Board of Film Classification: Baby Juice Express". Bbfc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  35. ^ "The Big Fun Show". Radiolistings.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  36. ^ "Intimate Contact with Julian Clary". Tvcream.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  37. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra: Intimate Contact". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  38. ^ "The Official Charts Company.com (Joan Collins Fan Club)". Archive.is. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  39. ^ Jonze, Tim (23 September 2019). "Julian Clary: 'I have the right to be a camp, effeminate homosexual'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  40. ^ "Julian Clary on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  41. ^ "Celebrity Gardeners: Julian Clary's garden". The Daily Telegraph. 29 July 2011. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  42. ^ Hoffman, Grace (23 February 2022). "Julian Clary and his quiet life in the Ashford countryside in a 17th Century manor house". Kent Live. Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  43. ^ Jones, Alice (13 July 2017). "Julian Clary: 'It's liberating not doing the filth'". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  44. ^ "The Roll of Honorary Fellows Goldsmiths College, University of London" (PDF).[dead link]
  45. ^ Rosie Vare (23 July 2014). "Photo gallery: Comedian Julian Clary among those receiving degrees from University of East Anglia – Home – Eastern Daily Press". Edp24.co.uk. Retrieved 14 February 2016.

External links[edit]

Preceded by Celebrity Big Brother Winner
Series 10 (2012)
Succeeded by