Al Murray

Al Murray

Murray as "The Pub Landlord" in 2011
Born (1968-05-10) 10 May 1968
Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, England
Medium Stand-up, television, radio
Nationality British
Alma mater St Edmund Hall, Oxford
Years active 1994–present
Genres Parody, Political satire, Surreal humour, Character comedy, Musical comedy, Observational comedy, Blue comedy
Subject(s) British culture, British politics, French culture, Gender stereotypes, Family, Human interaction, World history, Current events
Influences Frank Skinner, Harry Hill, Peter Cook, John Cleese, Tony Hancock, Steve Martin
Spouse Katherine Perry (1995–2000) (divorced);
Amber Hargreaves (2002–08) (separated)
Children 2 daughters
Notable works and roles The Pub Landlord;
Al Murray's Happy Hour;
Time Gentlemen Please;
Multiple Personality Disorder;
Fact Hunt; etc

Alastair James Hay "Al" Murray (born 10 May 1968), is an English comedian and TV personality well known for his stand-up persona and quick repartee.

His best-known character is "The Pub Landlord", a xenophobic publican. In 2003, Murray was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.[1] 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).[2] His grandfather, the former British ambassador Sir Ralph Murray,[3] was from Scottish aristocracy and married into the von Kuenburg family,[4] nobility of the Holy Roman Empire. His patrilineal great-great-grandfather, Dr George Murray, was Bishop of Rochester,[5] while Sir Edward Leigh MP is his third cousin.[6] Al Murray is in remainder both to English and Scottish peerage titles, including the barony of Strange and the dukedom of Atholl.[7]

Murray was educated at Bedford School (head boy)[8] and St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where he read Modern History.[9]

At Oxford he performed in the comedy group, the Oxford Revue, in a show directed by Stewart Lee (later an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund Hall).[10]

Personal life and campaigning

Murray (left) with Paul Chambers (centre) and Stephen Fry (right) outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on 27 June 2012

Murray married Amber Hargreaves in 2002. The couple, who have two daughters, Scarlett and Willow, separated in 2008.[11] Al Murray is a keen cricket fan,[12] and was invited to attend a farewell lunch for the England cricket team before their departure for the 2013 Ashes series.[13]

Murray, together with Stephen Fry, supported Paul Chambers' High Court appeals after Chambers had been arrested for contravening the Communications Act 2003 when a joke tweet was regarded by police as "menacing" and a terrorist threat. An appeal against Chambers' conviction was successful.[14] 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.[15]

Murray was awarded an honorary degree (Hon MA) by the University of Bedfordshire in 2014.[16]

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.[17] He started out with an act that involved sound-effect impressions, including guns, animals and a car boot. With this act he supported Jim Tavaré in Leeds in Winter 1992. In 1994–95 he was the drummer in the band Evangelista,[18] the house band at Stewart Lee's and Simon Munnery's experimental Cluub Zarathustra in London.[18] 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".[19]

The Pub Landlord

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 first appeared in 1994 during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, in the show "Pub Internationale", with Harry Hill[10] and Matthew Bradstock-Smith (who played "Little Alan" as well as the keyboards in Hill's Edinburgh, radio and TV shows). The show featured the "Pub Band", with Murray playing drums and compering. After trying out a character deemed not to have worked, at the opening show Murray suggested saying that the compere had not made it to the show and that the barman in the venue - the Pleasance Cabaret Bar - had offered to fill in. At the Edinburgh Festival,[20] Murray came up with "The Pub Landlord".[21]

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,[22] 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 were; ...A Glass of White Wine for the Lady (another catchphrase) and Giving it Both Barrels.

The Pub Landlord has hosted several television programmes including Fact Hunt, named after the fictional quiz machine of the same name from Time Gentlemen Please,[23] the BBC One show Live at the Apollo and UKTV channel Dave's Compete for the Meat, which is co-hosted by Zöe Salmon, with voice-overs from Jim Rosenthal. His chat show Al Murray's Happy Hour began airing 13 January 2007 on ITV.[24] The show has won a British Comedy Award and was nominated for a National Television Award. Murray was the headliner of a July 2009 episode of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, filmed at the Brighton Dome.[25]

From January 2006, Murray filled in for Tim Lovejoy on Virgin Radio on Sunday afternoons, in character as "The Pub Landlord", and broadcast his final show on 24 December 2006.[26]

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.[27][28]

Murray has written four books in his Pub Landlord guise: The Pub Landlord's Book Of British Common Sense, The Pub Landlord's Think Yourself British, The Pub Landlord's Great British Quiz Book, and Let's Re-Great Britain.

Other work

As a teenager, Murray was a drummer in the "big band" at Bedford School,[29] and also played percussion in the Bedfordshire County Youth Orchestra.[30] He played drums on the music for "The Pub Landlord" TV series and during an appearance on "Happy Hour" 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.[31]

In 2003, Murray appeared on an episode of the BBC's Time Commanders alongside Kate Silverton, Raji James and Ricky Groves.

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.[32] 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.[33][34]

Murray starred in Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder, a sketch show, which aired in early 2009.[35]

In late 2010, Murray made a documentary on German culture for BBC4 Al Murray's German Adventure[36] in which he presented a different side of the German nation from the one portrayed by "The Pub Landlord" character.[37]

Also in 2010 Murray took part in "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" on Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson.[38]

Murray serves as Patron of The Cambodian Children's Charity,[39] a development and relief charity for children in Cambodia.[40]

Murray became the host of the BBC Radio 5 Live show 7 Day Sunday in March 2011, succeeding Chris Addison, with the show later moving to Saturday (and associated name change)..

Murray 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.[41] 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.[42]

Murray sat in for Dermot O'Leary Saturday show on BBC Radio 2 on 3 September 2011 and 26 November 2011.

On 13 April and 26 July 2012, Murray guest-hosted the Kermode and Mayo's Film Review on BBC Radio 5 Live. On the latter, he exchanged places with critic Mark Kermode to review the comedy Ted.

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".[43]

On 1 January 2013 Murray was guest editor of Today on BBC Radio 4.

Since May 2013 Murray has hosted a show on Bauer's digital radio station Planet Rock called Defender of the Planet Rock Tradition.[44] And he also had a special guest star appearance in the children's comedy Horrible Histories.

In 2014, he appeared as Jon Westmore in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern. He also wrote and presented the TV documentary Al Murray's Great British Spy Movies on BBC Four. A fan of the rock band Genesis, Murray contributed to the BBC's documentary about the band Genesis: Together and Apart.[45]

On 31 Aug 2016 Murray sat in for Steve Wright on his Steve Wright in the afternoon show on BBC Radio 2.

In April 2016 Murray played Bottom in Shakespeare Live, a celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare, opposite Judi Dench as Titania.[46]

Murray is to participate in series three of the comedy challenge show, Taskmaster, which is due to air on Dave in 2017.[47]

Parliamentary candidacy

On 14 January 2015, Murray announced the formation of the Free United Kingdom Party (FUKP)[48] and declared his candidacy, deploying his Pub Landlord persona, for the seat of South Thanet[49] running against UKIP leader Nigel Farage, as parliamentary candidate in the 2015 general election.[50][51] Murray’s agent, Dan Lloyd, told the BBC: "it's definitely happening".[50] The party's logo is an upside-down pound sign,[52] not dissimilar to UKIP’s purple and gold pound sign.[53] 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!”[54]

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”.[55] The Conservative candidate, Craig Mackinlay, said he enjoyed Murray's video and his proclamations but was not worried that the comedian would split the anti-UKIP vote.[56] 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".[53] When nominations for South Thanet were released on 9 April 2015, it was confirmed that Murray would appear on the ballot paper with no description, rather than his FUKP name and emblem.[57][58][59]

The results of the election were announced on 8 May, revealing that Murray garnered 318 votes. This number of votes was higher than the average votes received by candidates from, amongst others, the Communist, Socialist and BNP parties.[60] When it was announced that Farage had failed to get elected, coming second in the poll to the Conservative candidate Craig Mackinlay, Murray's reaction – feigning shock and clapping on stage – garnered widespread media attention.[61] Speaking to the media during the vote count, Murray invited Farage to a drink in his pub to drown his sorrow at losing.[62]

Stand-up DVDs

Title Released Notes
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


Title Published
The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense 11 October 2007
The Pub Landlord's 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
Let's Re-Great Britain 1 April 2015[63]


  1. "The A-Z of laughter". Guardian Unlimited. London: The Guardian. 7 December 2003. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  2. Cavendish, Dominic (3 March 2007). "Prime time gentlemen, please". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  3. "Al Murray's Biography". Chortle. Archived from the original on 7 January 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  4. "". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  5. Burke's Peerage.
  6. Burke's Peerage. 2003.
  7. Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage 2015
  8. Harpurs Trust
  10. 1 2 "Al Murray". BBC Comedy. BBC. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  11. Irvine, Chris (2008-10-10). "Al Murray breaks up with wife". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  13. "Long Room goodbye for England's Ashes squad". 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  14. "Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case". BBC News. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  15. "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  17. "Perrier Comedy Awards". Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  18. 1 2 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.
  19. Fall Apart: The Evangelista Story (2002), at 1.40. 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: Pickles also produced an Evangelista CD in 2003 featuring Murray. Contrary to the film the press release claimed the band was active 1992-1995.
  21. 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.
  22. "2001-2002 26th Laurence Olivier Awards". LA Times. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2006.
  23. "Pints mean prizes". Chortle. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  24. Naughton, Philippe. "When Harry met Murray". The Times Online. London: The Times. Retrieved 7 January 2007.
  25. Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow @
  26. "Al Murray: Time Gentlemen Please". Virgin Radio. Archived from the original on 8 February 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  27. IMDB Listing, An Audience with Al Murray, 19 March 2005
  28. IMDB Listing, Another Audience with Al Murray, 27 October 2007
  29. The Interview 28 October 2007
  31. "Download Festival - T34". Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2011.
  32. "60 SECONDS: Al Murray". Metro (Associated Metro Limited). Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  33. "Landlord pulls in stars". Manchester Evening News. Archived from the original on 25 January 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  34. "Putting the Al in altitude". Chortle. Retrieved 12 February 2007.
  35. "Al Murray: His Gaff, His Rules". Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
  36. "Al Murray's German Adventure". 2011-04-10. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  37. "Al Murray's German Adventure". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  39. "The Cambodian Children's Charity ('CamKids')". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  40. "CamBuild - Background". Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 26 October 2008.
  42. 18 March 2011 (2011-03-18). "Stephen Fry Up wins Walkers Clash of the Comics for Red Nose Day". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  44. "Bauer hires Al Murray for Planet Rock". Radio Today. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  45. Radford, Ceri (4 October 2014). "Genesis: Together and Apart, review: 'an entertaining riff'". Telegraph. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  47. "Taskmaster Series 3 line-up revealed". British Comedy Guide. 16 April 2016.
  50. 1 2 "Al Murray to stand against UKIP's Nigel Farage". 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  51. "The Guv's common sense message to the UK".
  53. 1 2 "Last orders for Nigel Farage? Pub Landlord takes on Ukip". The Guardian. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  54. "Watch: Al Murray Pub Landlord to take on Nigel Farage". 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  55. Sky News
  57. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-04-26.
  60. Nianias, Helen (8 May 2015). "It's not just Nigel Farage: Al Murray the Pub Landlord loses South Thanet bid despite patriotic pledges". The Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  61. Connor, Laura (8 May 2015). "Watch Al Murray's priceless reaction as Ukip leader Nigel Farage is beaten by Tories in his target seat". Daily Record. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  62. "Nigel Farage can drown his sorrows in my pub should he lose, says Al Murray - video". The Guardian. ITN. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  63. "Al Murray to publish a political tract". Chortle. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
Murray arms

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