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Roy Walker
Born 31 July 1940 (1940-07-31) (age 69)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Medium Television
Nationality Northern Irish
Years active 1977-present
Genres Stand-up comedy
Spouse Jean
(? - 1989 (her death))
Notable works and roles Catchphrase
The Comedians
Website www.roywalker.co.uk

Robert 'Roy' Walker (born 31 July 1940) is a television personality and comedian from Northern Ireland, who worked for many years as both a television presenter and comedy actor. He is best known as the original host of the game show, Catchphrase between 1986 and 1999, and one of the stars of The Comedians.

Contents

Early life

Born in Belfast, as a teenager Walker performed in the Francis Longford Choir, then worked as a riveter in the shipyard. He was the Northern Ireland champion hammer thrower for two years, and represented his country internationally.[1] He spent a short time as a comedy partner of James Young[citation needed] before spending seven years in the British Army.[2]

Walker, who first went to work at the age of twelve, "to bring a few extra pennies into the house", ran a fruit shop whilst working in the evenings as the compère at the Talk of the Town club during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. One day he was confronted by two men who stuck a browning pistol in his face and demanded to know: "Are you married to a Fenian?" Walker later recalled, "Protestants and Catholics drank together in the Talk of the Town – integration happened in front of my eyes every night. As a Protestant myself, I had lots of Catholic friends – the Army had been full of them. Bob Hope said you should never admit to anything and that day I didn't. But then I was told: 'We're giving everyone 24 hours – that's you and them Fenian lovers across the street.' I got one of the cards I'd used for the apple prices and on the back I wrote: 'The owner of this shop served Queen and country for six years'. I stuck it in the window, closed up and walked down the Woodstock Road for the last time."[3]

The shop was then firebombed and Walker fled with his family to England where he toured as a professional comedian, in Working men's clubs and cabaret.[1][3]

""I'd been 'Mr Belfast' but in Sunderland I had to wait by the phone at nine o'clock hoping that some other poor comic had been paid off after his first act. That seven quid got me my digs."
Walker talking about his move to England[3]

Career

Walker came to fame in 1977 when he won the ITV talent show New Faces, receiving the highest mark ever given to a comedian.[1] He was also a regular on the 1970s ITV stand-up comedy show The Comedians.[4] He appeared on the BBC show Seaside Special on 15 July 1978.[5] Also in 1978 he appeared in two episodes of Blackpool Bonanza.[6] In 1984 he appeared in an episode of the comedy series The Main Attraction.[6]

A well-dressed gent with thick greying hair and a polite air, Walker's soft Ulster voice, his lack of aggression, the composed expression hiding a gentle smile, his amazing pauses which defied interruption, somehow overawing and silencing hecklers…

Bob Monkhouse summing up Walker's comedy[3]

Walker is most famous for the game show Catchphrase, which he co-hosted with his computer character friend that he created, Mr Chips, from 1986 to 1999. Walker coined his own catchphrases for the show: "Say what you see" "It's close, but it's not the one" and "It's good but it's not right!"[3] On 12 June 1994 he appeared on Surprise, Surprise.[7] Other television appearances in the 1990s included You Bet!, Gagtat, Light Lunch, Wipeout (celebrity special) and TV Nightmares.[6]

Walker appeared as himself in the first episode of Phoenix Nights on 14 January 2001. In 2002 he took part in the comedy game show "It's Only TV... But I Like It" and also appeared on Harry Hill's TV Burp.[6]

In 2004 he appeared in the third series of the reality television series I'm Famous and Frightened! on Living. In 2005, Walker appeared as Monsignor in the romantic drama film, The Jealous God, which was released on 9 September. On 4 March 2006 he was the Northern Ireland Regional Presenter in the UK's Eurovision Song Contest selection show, Making Your Mind Up. On 12 August 2006 he appeared in an episode entitled The Comics of the documentary The Story of Light Entertainment. And on 14 October appeared on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.[6] He appeared on The Paul O'Grady Show in 2006 with Frank Carson as mystery guests, they were in disguise in the audience.[citation needed]

On 19 February 2007 he was a guest on the Irish chat show, The Podge and Rodge Show on RTÉ. And on 30 November he was a guest on the day time chat show Loose Women.

In 2008 Walker was a guest on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. He presented a six-part comedy series for BBC Radio Ulster, The Way We Tell 'Em, as well as appearing on Ready Steady Cook on 5 June 2008. On 10 June, Walker appeared on Big Brother's Big Mouth as a secret special guest. Walker is a noted after dinner speaker and in June 2008 spoke and presented awards at the AIS Presidents Launch at the Dorchester Hotel in London. In 2008 he performed at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in his own one hour show entitled Goodbye Mr Chips debuting on 31 July, his 68th birthday.[3] He was also team captain on the first series of the BBC Radio 4 panel game Act Your Age.

Walker has appeared (in pre-recorded audiobite form) on The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1, in features called "Car Park Catchphrase" and "Beep Beep Busters", a spoof of the game show Blockbusters.

Walker starred in the Churchill Insurance adverts, alongside model Megan Hall, seen at an Indian restaurant with the Churchill Dog in 2009. On 26 May 2009 he appeared on the Britain's Got Talent show Britain's Got More Talent. Also in 2009, he appeared in a celebrity edition of the reality cookery show Come Dine With Me, which aired on 1 November - in which he came first. The other contestants were Most Haunted presenter Yvette Fielding, Natasha Hamilton of pop group Atomic Kitten, and former Coronation Street actor Bruce Jones.

Personal life

Walker lives in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. He has three children with his wife Jean, who died of cancer in 1989.[3] His son Mark presented the short-lived game show, Steal which involved the cartoon cat-burglar, Jools in 1990.[citation needed] Walker's nephew, Stephen, voiced the character "Shiggy Biggs" in the adult cartoon Biggy My Shiggs which aired in Ireland in 2009.[citation needed]

References

External links

Preceded by
None
Host of Catchphrase
1986-1999
Succeeded by
Nick Weir
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