Richard Murdoch

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Richard Murdoch
Actor Richard Murdoch.jpg
Richard Bernard Murdoch

(1907-04-06)6 April 1907
Keston, Kent, England
Died9 October 1990(1990-10-09) (aged 83)
OccupationComedy actor
Years active1932–1990
Spouse(s)Peggy Rawlings (1932–1990; his death)

Richard Bernard Murdoch (6 April 1907 – 9 October 1990) was a British actor and entertainer.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was educated at Charterhouse School in Surrey, and Pembroke College, Cambridge. While at university he participated in the Footlights Dramatic Club's performances.

Early career[edit]

Murdoch's first appearance in cinema was as an uncredited dancing extra in 1932 film Looking on the Bright Side. In 1937 he was listed among the cast of the "Television Follies", an early BBC Television programme.[2]

Work with Arthur Askey[edit]

He received his big professional break in the British Broadcasting Corporation's comedy radio programme Band Waggon in 1938 as part of a double act with the then rising star Arthur Askey, acquiring the nickname "Stinker" in mocking reference to his superior formal education.[3] As Askey moved from radio performing into cinema at the end of the 1930s, Murdoch went with him and they appeared in a number of Askey star vehicle films together, Murdoch's tall athletic physique, good looks and upper middle class English Home Counties demeanor contrasting comedically with Askey's short stature, homely appearance, Lancashire provincial accent and working class performance persona. Their working partnership broke up during World War 2 when Murdoch joined the Armed Forces, but they briefly reprised it in the late 1950s for the television series Living It Up.[4]

Second World War[edit]

Murdoch was conscripted into the Royal Air Force in 1941, serving as a junior intelligence officer with Bomber Command, before being posted to the Department of Allied Air Force and Foreign Liaison as a Flight Lieutenant. In 1943 he joined the Directorate of Administrative Plans at the Air Ministry, where he shared an office with Wing Commander Kenneth Horne, being responsible for the supply of aircraft and air equipment to Russia. He finished the war with the rank of Squadron Leader.[5][6][7]

Later career[edit]

Murdoch teamed up with Kenneth Horne in the BBC Radio comedy series Much Binding in the Marsh from 1944 to 1954.[8]

He performed in the long-running radio comedy series The Men from the Ministry from 1962 to 1977.[9][10]

He composed a suggestive doggerel about Ella Wheeler Wilcox as lyrics to accompany the opening bars of Alexandre Luigini's Ballet Égyptien.[11]

In the early 1980s Murdoch provided the English narration for the Polish animated version of The Moomins, from the classic series of books by Tove Jansson.[12]

Murdoch had a long-running regular role as 'Uncle Tom', the briefless senior barrister of chambers, in Rumpole of the Bailey from 1978 to 1990.

Personal life[edit]

He married the actress Peggy Rawlings in 1932, and they had three children, Belinda, Jane and Timothy.[13]

Murdoch died on 9 October 1990, aged 83. His final performance in the Rumpole series was broadcast a few months later in 1991.[1]

Selected radio broadcasts[edit]

Selected television appearances[edit]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Richard Murdoch". BFI.
  2. ^ Radio Times Television Supplement, 9 July 1937
  3. ^ Hugh M. Massingberd, 'The "Daily Telegraph" Book of Obituaries 3: Entertainers', pp. 148–49. ISBN 0-330-36775-7
  4. ^ a b "Living It Up (TV series 1957–)". IMDb.
  5. ^ Johnston, Barry (2006). Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne. Aurum Press. pp. 58–61. ISBN 1-84513-123-1
  7. ^ 'The Old Boys' Network', a B.B.C. television programme with Murdoch addressing a live audience discussing his career, was broadcast on 7 October 1981
  8. ^ a b Foster, Andy and Furst, Steve (1996). Radio Comedy 1938–1968. Virgin Publishing. pp. 82–85. ISBN 0-86369-960-X
  9. ^ a b Foster, Andy and Furst, Steve (1996). Radio Comedy 1938–1968. Virgin Publishing. pp. 240-47. ISBN 0-86369-960-X
  10. ^ "BBC Radio 4 Extra - The Men From the Ministry, Fair Exchange". BBC.
  11. ^ Chris Hughes. "Richard Murdoch's 'Ballet Egyptien' parody".
  12. ^ a b "The Moomins". BFI.
  13. ^ British Pathé. "Richard Murdoch".
  14. ^ Donovan, Paul (1991). The Radio Companion. HarperCollins. p. 16. ISBN 0-246-13648-0
  15. ^ Johnston, Barry (2006). Round Mr Horne: The Life of Kenneth Horne. Aurum Press. pp. 65, 82, 120, 123, 133. ISBN 1-84513-123-1
  16. ^ "Desert Island Discs: Richard Murdoch & Kenneth Horne". BBC. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
  17. ^ Gifford, Denis (1985). The Golden Age of Radio. Batsford. p. 184.
  18. ^ Donovan, Paul (1991). The Radio Companion. HarperCollins. p. 184. ISBN 0-246-13648-0
  19. ^
  20. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1998). Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. BBC Books. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-563-36977-6.
  21. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1998). Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. BBC Books. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-563-36977-6.
  22. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1998). Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy. BBC Books. p. 607. ISBN 978-0-563-36977-6.
  23. ^ a b c d e "Richard Murdoch". IMDb.
  • Walker, John (1999). Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies. (13th ed.) HarperCollins. p. 297. ISBN 0-00-255905-6

External links[edit]