Murray Walker OBE

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Murray  is a former Formula One motorsport commentator known for his individualistic commentary style which was broadcast around the world, including Australia and Japan.

His father Graham was a motorcycle TT champion and Murray was born into the world of motor racing seeing his first race at the age of two.

After active service in World War II, he had a highly successful career with the Masius advertising agency, with many clients including Mars, Vauxhall Motors and British Rail. During this time Murray Walker created the slogan “Trill makes budgies bounce with health” – a famous advertising slogan for bird seed in the 1960s as well as the slogan “Opal Fruits, made to make your mouth water.”

He did not retire from this until the age of 59, long after he was famed as a commentator. He also briefly competed in motorcycle races himself.

Commentary Career

In 1949  he covered the British GP at Silverstone for BBC Radio. Walker finally went full-time on his retirement from the advertising business in 1982. He has since spent more than 50 years commentating on motor racing and in particular F1, initially for the BBC before moving over to ITV in 1997.

On Formula One coverage from 1980 to 1993, Walker struck up a surprisingly successful, but extremely popular, double act with 1976 World Champion James Hunt. Initially they did not get on, as Hunt’s interests, personality, and private life appeared to have little in common with Walker’s. However Murray, being the gentleman that he is, never let his personal feelings about Hunt’s private life interfere with their work, indeed the pair eventually became good friends. Murray and James were to work together for more than a decade at the BBC, until Hunt’s sudden death from a heart attack the day after the 1993 Canadian Grand Prix.

In December 2000 Walker announced he was to retire from Formula One commentating. Walker’s final Formula One television commentary was the 2001 United States Grand Prix which was also the second F1 race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Upon his retirement, Walker was awarded an original brick from “The Brickyard” by track president Tony George, an honour very rarely bestowed on anyone other than the winning driver of a major race at the venue, such is his standing in the motor racing community.

In November 1997, Walker was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters Degree from Bournemouth University. He was later honoured, in July 2005, with an Honorary Doctorate from the Middlesex University, London.

He is known for his gentlemanly and considerate conduct, seeing the best in drivers who had attracted controversy. He rarely criticised drivers and preferred to give the benefit of the doubt in attributing blame for incidents.

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