Graeme Murray Walker, OBE (known as Murray Walker; born 10 October 1923, Hall Green, Birmingham, England) is a Formula 1 (F1) motorsport commentator. For most of his career he worked for the BBC, but when it lost the contract for F1 coverage to the company ITV, Walker continued his commentating there.
He is famous in the United Kingdom for his very distinctive enthusiastic commentary style. He regularly made comments (known to many as Walkerisms or Murrayisms) in the heat of the moment that, upon analysis a moment later, were ridiculous; for example, as a car arrived for a pit stop during a race he once said "...I'll stop the startwatch!".
He was also an exponent of the commentator's curse, describing how well a driver was racing or that they would win the race, only to have them retire or crash out of the race shortly thereafter.
Murray's father Graham Walker was a former despatch rider and works motorcyclist for Norton Motorcycle Company who participated in the Isle of Man TT and was Sales competition Director at the Rudge-Whitworth Motorcycle company. Murray attended Highgate School and in World War II he graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys. He went on to command a Sherman Tank and participate in the Battle of the Reichswald with the 4th Armoured Brigade. He left the army having attained the rank of captain and then worked in advertising for Dunlop and Aspro. He was then employed by the Masius advertising agency, with clients including Mars, Vauxhall Motors and British Rail. 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.
Murray is often mistaken for having invented the famous slogan "A Mars a day helps you work rest and play": "[it] was something that I administered, but I never invented it. I'll tell you how it got ascribed to me. It got put into an obituary file, maybe all of my obituary files, and I can't get rid of it. It's amazing the way it sticks.
Walker made his debut in 1949 alongside Max Robertson, although it wasn't until the late 1970s that each Formula 1 race was given extensive coverage on British television. He did occasional Formula 1 commentaries during the 1970s, going full-time for the 1978 season. He commentated on Formula 1 through to the 2001 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
His first regular work was on radio coverage of the Isle of Man TT, initially alongside his father. After Graham's death in 1962, Murray took over the lead role. He covered motocross (initially for ITV) during the 1960s and rallycross in the 1970s and early 1980s. He occasionally commentated on motorcycle racing and rallying. Murray also covered the BTCC for the BBC between 1988 and 1997, and the Macao event for Hong Kong TV on nine occasions.
On Formula One coverage from 1980 to 1993, Walker struck up a surprisingly successful double act with recently retired driver 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, the pair were to work together for more than a decade at the BBC until Hunt died from a heart attack. Walker would provide the animated descriptions of the action, with Hunt bringing in his expert knowledge in his co-commentary role.
After Hunt died, Jonathan Palmer joined Walker in the commentary box for the remainder of the 1993 season until the end of 1996. Walker remained with the BBC until ITV won the rights to coverage from the start of the 1997 season and he switched channels. His co-commentator from the 1997 season onwards until Walker's retirement from commentating was Martin Brundle. There were a few Grands Prix between 1978 and 1996 that Walker did not commentate on while employed by the BBC. The 1981 German Grand Prix and 1984 German Grand Prix (both commentated by Barry Gill, the 1985 German Grand Prix (Tony Jardine) and 1988 Hungarian Grand Prix (Simon Taylor).
He also wrote a series of annuals for the Grand Prix season, Murray Walker's Grand Prix Year, for Hazelton Publishing from 1987 to 1997.
Walker's final Formula One television commentary was the 2001 United States Grand Prix which was also the second F1 race held at Indianapolis, United States. Upon his retirement, Walker was awarded an original brick from "The Brickyard" (the Indianapolis Motor Speedway) by track president Tony George, an honour very rarely bestowed on anyone other than the winning driver of a major race at the venue.
In November 1997, Murray 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.
Years of exposure to loud engines and age-related hearing problems left Murray with hearing loss in both ears. In 2006 he became chief ambassador for David Ormerod Hearing Centres, the high street Audiology chain that fitted his hearing aids and in January 2007 he was an active name in Hearing Clearer Awareness Month which focussed on helping people understand the importance of getting their hearing tested frequently. Murray regularly writes a personal diary on the David Ormerod Hearing Centres website - www.davidormerod.co.uk.
In March 2006, the Honda Racing F1 Team, formerly British American Racing, announced that Walker would become its team ambassador for half of the 2006 season's 18 Grands Prix, starting with the San Marino Grand Prix in April. Walker welcomed Honda Racing's VIP guests and entertained them with his F1 commentary.
In March 2006 Walker returned to the microphone for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar round in Adelaide and in April he commentated on the Australian Grand Prix for Australia's Formula One broadcaster Network Ten. He was also Sky Sports' commentator for their coverage of Grand Prix Masters.
In March 2007 Walker again returned to the microphone for the Clipsal 500 V8 Supercar round, and was awarded a Lifetime Infinite Pass to the event by organisers at a ceremony on pit straight, shortly before the main race. In March 2007 he was again part of Network Ten’s commentary team for the Australian Grand Prix.
In June 2007 Walker visited the Isle of Man to celebrate the Centenary of the Isle of Man TT and work on a DVD documentary about the event, TT: Centenary Celebration with Murray Walker, which was released later in the year.
On March 20 2008, while being interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live, Walker was asked if he'd consider a return to the TV commentary box when Formula 1 returns to the BBC in 2009. He answered "Never say never".
On Sunday, 6th July 2008, Murray reprised his role as commentator for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone for BBC Radio 5 Live.