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Murray Walker has died

Murray Walker, the doyen of motorsport commentators, has died.

He was 97 and, together with his wife Elizabeth, had been in a nursing home for some months.

For more than 20 years he was the face and voice of Formula 1 but his racing upbringing was in the Isle of Man where his father Graham Walker was not only a TT winner but the voice of the TT when it was covered live by BBC radio. And he followed in his fathers footsteps.


TT Riders Association secretary Frances Thorp who had remained in contact with him on a regular basis said:” I talked to him two weeks ago and he was very chipper and in good spirits. He was a lovely man and did a huge amount for the TTRA when he was President and over the years. He always said the TT was the greatest race in the world.”

After serving in the army during the second World War, Murray got into motor cycle racing but switched with greater success to off road gaining a gold at the ISDT and a first class award at the Scottish six days. But greater success came in his proper job,

After working for Dunlop he was headhunted by an agency McCann Erickson on their Esso account and later for another agency on their Mars account cor whom they invented the slogan “A Mars a day helps you work rest and play.” Other slogans such as “Trill makes budgies bounce with health” for a bird seed brand
and “Opal fruits, made to make your mouth water” were the product of Walker

It was inevitable that he would get into commentating and after a couple of jobs with the BBC he joined his father’s team for the 1949 TT doing live broadcasting for BBC radio from Parliament Square in Ramsey while Walker senior lead from the commentary point on Glencrutchery Road. Other motor sports on television and radio followed including scrambling (motocross) with inimitable Denis ‘undulating straight’ Parkinson, BTCC touring cars and, in the seventies, Formula 1 which led to world wide recognition as an informed but amusing commentator, many awards and an OBE.

His commentaries were always delivered standing up. His style, perhaps explained by the title of his autobiography “Unless I’m Very Much Mistaken” was unique. His target audience were not the knowledgeable but exactly the opposite who he wanted to grip by the throats and say:”Hey, look this is fantastic. I love it and you ought to love it too.”

His ‘mistakes’ were legendary but he described them as prophesies gone wrong and appealed to his audience because they saw he was just flesh and blood like they were.
And they loved him.

They don’t make ‘em like that any more.

Multiple TT winner and world champion Phil Read remembers Murray well: "I was pushing my bike into the winners enclosure following the 1960 Junior TT and Murray, who was alongside me, asked ‘Why are you limping Phil?’ I told him that after changing gear about a thousand times anybody would be limping.

“He was a great man who knew all the riders personally and had a great affection for the Isle of Man having been brought there by his Dad when he was four years old. There was nobody quite like him.”

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