Alastair James Hay "Al" Murray (born 10 May 1968), is an English comedian and TV personality best known by his stand-up persona and quick repartee. He is best known for his character of The Pub Landlord, a mock-xenophobic but stereotypical public house licensee. In 2003, Murray was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2007 he was voted the 16th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups. He currently has a part on the CBBC series Horrible Histories.
Murray was born at Stewkley, Buckinghamshire, only son of Lieutenant Colonel Ingram Bernard Hay Murray (a great-great-great-great-grandson of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl, who married Charlotte, Baroness Strange), and Juliet Anne Thackeray, née Ritchie (a great-great-granddaughter of William Makepeace Thackeray). His grandfather, the diplomat Sir Ralph Murray, was of Scottish nobility and married into the von Kuenburg family, aristocrats from Austria.
Murray was educated at Bedford School with Ian Hart, before going up to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with the degree of MA in Modern History. At Oxford he performed in the comedy group, the Oxford Revue in a show directed by Stewart Lee.
Murray married Amber Hargreaves, in 2002. The couple, who have two daughters, Scarlett and Willow, separated in 2008. Al Murray is also a keen cricket fan, and attended a farewell lunch for the England cricket team before their departure for the 2013 Ashes series.
Murray, together with Stephen Fry, supported Paul Chambers' successful High Court campaign for the right to free speech (over the sending of an allegedly "menacing" tweet).
Murray started out touring with other 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. He started out with an act that involved sound-effect impressions, including of guns, animals and a particularly impressive car boot; a combination that prompted an equal number of plaudits for vocal skill and complaints of tastelessness. With this act he supported Jim Tavaré in Leeds in Winter 1992. In 1994 - 1995 he was the drummer in the band Evangelista, in effect the house-band at Stewart Lee's and Simon Munnery's experimental London comedy club Cluub Zarathustra. Film Maker Martin Pickles made a short film about the band in 2002. At this time the lead singer Reid describes Murray as "He's still not a household name, but anyone who's into comedy knows who Al Murray is".
The Pub Landlord:
His character, the Pub Landlord is a stereotypical, right-wing, British patriot advocating a dislike for anything "un-British". This character effuses a 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 is very different from Murray's real life public-school and Oxbridge background and first appeared in 1994 when Murray was the tour support act for Harry Hill. At that time part of a comedy band called "The Pub Band International" in which he played the drums, they were looking for a link to Hill's act. After trying out a character which was deemed not to work, on the eve of performing at the Edinburgh Festival, Murray invented the Pub Landlord.
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 with the Pub Landlord character My Gaff, My Rules was short-listed for a Laurence Olivier Award in 2002, 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, ...A Glass of White Wine for the Lady (another catchphrase) and Giving it Both Barrels also ran to critical acclaim. When asked about the sitcom during live shows, in character as the Pub Landlord, Murray claims to be unhappy with the television series, a joke some have taken literally.
A quiz show, Fact Hunt presented by Murray as the Pub Landlord and named after the fictional quiz machine of the same name from Time Gentlemen Please was shown on late-night ITV in 2005.
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.
His chat show Al Murray's Happy Hour began airing 13 January 2007 on ITV. The show has won a British Comedy Award and was nominated for a National Television Award. A new series returned on 12 September 2008, and of this Murray said:
"It goes without saying ... the trouble with telly these days is that the viewer is not credited with enough intelligence and the fact I'm back on is proof they know what's good for them".
Murray was the headliner on 11 July 2009 episode of Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, which was filmed at the Brighton Dome.
On 18 December 2009, Murray hosted the BBC One TV show, Live at the Apollo.
In May 2011, Murray began hosting a new quiz show, Compete for the Meat on the UKTV channel Dave. The show is co-presented by ex-Blue Peter presenter, Zöe Salmon, with voice-overs from Jim Rosenthal. The prizes are: a frozen chicken for 1st place, sausages for 2nd place and Shame for the Losers! (3rd & 4th places).
As a teenager, Murray was a drummer in the 'big band' at Bedford School., and also played percussion in the Bedfordshire County Youth Orchestra. He played drums on the music for his Pub Landlord TV series and during an appearance 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.
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. Murray presented Al Murray's Road to Berlin on the Discovery Channel. This was a series about the last phase of World War II, 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.
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 personnel. 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.
In 2007, Murray published the book The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense. It consists of The Pub Landlord's "sage" advice, i.e. opinions and views on a range of topics including James Bond actors, religion, politics, television, films and Churchill quotations.
Murray starred in Al Murray's Multiple Personality Disorder, a sketch show, which aired in early 2009.
In late 2010, Murray made a documentary on German culture for BBC4 Al Murray's German Adventure in which he sought to find a different side of the German nation than the one portrayed by his Pub Landlord character.
Also in 2010 Murray was a guest as a 'Star in the Reasonably Priced Car' on Top Gear.
Murray is the Patron of The Cambodian Children's Charity which is a development and relief charity for children in Cambodia.
Murray became the host of the BBC Radio 5 Live show 7 Day Sunday in March 2011, succeeding Chris Addison.
Murray has 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. 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.
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 was on the ITV special The McFly Show starring British pop band McFly. He played the band's landlord in the character of the Pub Landlord as well as playing the drums with McFly for their version of the Queen song Don't Stop Me Now.
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 Sundays 10am-12pm called 'Defender of the Planet Rock Tradition'
In 2014, he appeared as Jon Westmore in The Life of Rock with Brian Pern.
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 The 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
The Pub Landlord's Book of British Common Sense
11 October 2007
The Pub Landlord Says 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