Rory McGrath

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Rory McGrath
Rory McGrath (3) (cropped).jpg
Rory McGrath (September 2012)
Patrick Rory McGrath

(1956-03-17) 17 March 1956 (age 65)
Redruth, Cornwall, England
OccupationComedian, writer
Years active1979 - 2013

Patrick Rory McGrath (born 17 March 1956), known as Rory McGrath, is a British comedian, television personality, and writer. He came to prominence in the comedy show Who Dares Wins and was for many years a regular panelist on the game show They Think It's All Over. He acted in the sitcom Chelmsford 123 and appeared in the ITV reality show Sugar Free Farm.

Early life[edit]

McGrath was born in Redruth, Cornwall, England. He studied at Redruth Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, from which he received a lower second class degree[1] in modern languages.[2][3]


McGrath became a member of the Footlights[4] while at Cambridge and met Jimmy Mulville, with whom he wrote and performed. After university, they wrote BBC radio scripts for Frankie Howerd and Windsor Davies. McGrath also co-wrote Black Cinderella Two Goes East with Clive Anderson for BBC Radio 2 in 1978. McGrath and Mulville went on to write for shows such as Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones, and they were part of the team of writer/performers behind Injury Time (1980–1982),[5] and the Channel 4 comedy sketch series Who Dares Wins. In 1981 McGrath wrote and performed in the radio show Glompus Van De Hloed's Tales From The Crypt alongside Andrew Sachs, Chrissy Roberts, Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith, from which an album was produced.

In 1986, McGrath, with Jimmy Mulville and Denise O'Donoghue, co-founded the independent British TV production company Hat Trick Productions. An early production was Chelmsford 123 (1988 and 1990), which McGrath and Mulville wrote and performed. In 1990, he hosted the game show Trivial Pursuit on BBC One, but in 1992 he was dismissed from Hat Trick, allegedly for not pulling his weight. The confrontation came days after McGrath had left his wife and two young children.[6] He was a panel member on the BBC comedy sports quiz They Think It's All Over (1995–2006). He was presenter of the series Rory's Commercial Breakdown (1997), where humorous adverts were shown from different countries. He has made two football DVDs, Own Goals and Gaffs – The Premiership in 2002 and More Own Goals and Gaffs in 2003.[7] McGrath also appeared in an episode of the Sooty Show (Time Capsule), as a scuba diver who appeared from anywhere to stop Matthew Corbett and Sooty from burying their time capsule.

From 2006-2011, McGrath starred in the BBC's Three Men in a Boat series, alongside Dara Ó Briain and Griff Rhys Jones. The series has included the trio rowing up the River Thames (similar to the 1889 novel also named Three Men in a Boat), sailing from London to the Isle of Wight for a sailing yacht race, borrowing numerous vessels to make their way from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly, taking to the Irish canals and rivers along with Ó Briain's dog (Snip Nua), travelling in the Mediterranean to Venice and attempting to find a boat to take to the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, where in response to a continuing challenge between Ó Briain and Rhys Jones (who had each secured a boat and refused to give it up to use the other's), he secured permission to use the Nantucket Lightship. He also hosted Industrial Revelations: Best of British Engineering, series 5, first broadcast in 2008.

His first book, Bearded Tit – Confessions of a Birdwatcher, was published by Ebury Press on 1 May 2008 and was serialised by BBC Radio 4.

First airing in August 2008, McGrath co-starred in a four-part television series with British comedian Paddy McGuinness, broadcast on Channel 5, Rory and Paddy's Great British Adventure. In the series McGuinness and McGrath embarked on a nationwide road-trip, "on a mission to explore Britain's sporting heritage by probing the hidden life of its towns and villages". The series documented numerous arcane sports such as cheese rolling, toe wrestling and swamp soccer.

In 2011, McGrath presented Pub Dig for History. He presented two series of The Lakes for ITV and in 2016, he took part in ITV's Sugar Free Farm which saw him go sugar free for two weeks.

Personal life[edit]

McGrath is married to Nicola. They met at Cambridge, but married other people. After both their marriages ended, she contacted him and they restarted their relationship in 1995.[6]

McGrath supports Arsenal, Celtic and Plymouth Argyle.[8] He and Peter Cook (a Tottenham supporter) used to have a friendly rivalry over their respective clubs. On the night that Cook died in January 1995, Tottenham had beaten Arsenal. McGrath found out about his friend's death after failing to receive Cook's usual abusive phonecall the next morning.[9] McGrath is a friend and fan of Ralph McTell.[10] He contributed liner notes to Affairs of the Heart, a McTell compilation album.[11]

Criminal record[edit]

In May 2013, McGrath assaulted two people whilst intoxicated, leaving one person with a bloody nose and scratches. He received a caution.[12][13]

In January 2017, McGrath was sentenced to 10 weeks in jail, suspended for 18 months, for harassing a former lover.[14]


  • McGrath, Rory (2008). Bearded Tit. London: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192269-6. (story of the author's life among birds)
  • McGrath, Rory (2011). The Father, the Son and the Ghostly Hole: Confessions from a Guilt-edged Life. London: Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192461-4. (A memoir of a lapsed Catholic who can't quite fully escape)[15]


  1. ^ "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Rory McGrath, comedian". The Independent. London. 12 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "How We Met". 18 September 2011.
  4. ^ "Interview: Rory McGrath". The Tab. 15 May 2012.
  5. ^ "Emma Thompson: A Life in Pictures". 24 November 2013.
  6. ^ a b "Rory McGrath profile". BBC. 3 February 2001. Retrieved 3 February 2009.
  7. ^ Hurrey, Adam (26 June 2015). "Whatever happened to the football blooper DVD?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  8. ^ McGrath, Rory [@rorymcgrathA1] (27 July 2015). "I just love being an Arsenal fan (with Celtic and Plymouth Argyle as my back-ups). #montheredandwhitesandgreensandgreensandwhites" (Tweet). Retrieved 9 March 2021 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ "2013 #06: Rory McGrath, Josh Widdicombe and Carly Smallman – Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast – British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 March 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 24 February 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Iivonen-Gray, Katri (5 July 2013). "Redruth-born comedian Rory McGrath cautioned for three assaults". This Is Cornwall. Cornwall, United Kingdom: Local World. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. REDRUTH-born comedian and writer Rory McGrath has been cautioned for three assaults in Cornwall. ... In May a spokesman for the force [Devon and Cornwall Police] said: "Police were called to a property in the Pool area, near Redruth, following a report that a man had assaulted a male and female couple, who, it is understood, were attempting to assist this man who was heavily in drink."
  13. ^ "Rory McGrath cautioned over Cornwall assaults". BBC News. 5 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. McGrath was arrested by police called to a house in Pool, near Redruth, on 10 May last year. At the time, the force [Devon and Cornwall Police] said a man had assaulted a male and female couple "who it is understood, were attempting to assist this man who was heavily in drink".
  14. ^ "Rory McGrath admits harassing woman in Cambridge". BBC News. 26 January 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  15. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (5 March 2011). "Rory McGrath: 'Look away now, Mum!'". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 January 2014.

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