Elise Harris talks to Al Murray about his new series for Sky - Time
Al Murray is Pub Landlord. But then again (to quote Elton John) no. In real life
he's a genuinely good bloke who's in it for the laughs. Unless that's another
Al was nominated for the prestigious Perrier Award (at the Edinburgh
Festival) four times before he finally won it last year, paving the way for his
new show on Sky One.
He is also Big Brother Alan (on The Harry Hill Show - he was the idiot with the
curly wig), and the winner of the 1996 British Guild of Beer Writers Award
For Humorous Writing About Beer.
In the past Al Murray Pub Landlord (as opposed to real-life-Al) has been
compared with Harry Enfield. Publicists called the Landlord character the
Loadsamoney for the Nineties.
But if you're going to compare him with anybody, Al thinks it should be Barry
Humphries, "He's kept that going for ever and no one goes this guy is Dame
Edna doing the same old joke' - they just love it and they know where they are
with it as well. And that's the sort of creation one would hope to
When he won the Perrier Award he suddenly became the darling of a lot of
intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals. Which was a little bit bemusing for him.
Germaine Greer even described him as a visionary.
"I think they got bit excited on the Late Review," he says.
Despite what everyone says Al insists he's not being satirical. "It's just done for a
laugh, I get all these funny reviews saying oh it's a take on this, and he's
parodied the Loaded generation - when that review was written I had never read
And he's certainly not a cultural commentator. "I'm not grinding an axe or
anything and in one way that's what I've tried to do with it - deliberately grind
I find the idea of comedian telling everyone what political decisions to make
hilarious. He's a comedian you know - nothing else he's said is sensible so why
should him telling you how to vote be sensible?"
In his new show, Time Gentleman Please, the Landlord gets to interact with the
pub regulars. Al admits he's had to learn to adapt after playing to the audience for
"It's quite tough because I have to be generous with the punchlines. In standup I
do it all myself - I get to say the funny thing at the end, but sometimes you have
to give it to someone else - it's a culture shift."
But he seems to have adapted quite well so far - proving that hell isn't necessarily
The show was written with Richard Herring, Stewart Lee's comedy
partner in This Morning With Richard Not Judy and Fist of Fun. Al describes him
as a genius.
He continues, "The cast is just brilliant we've got Phil Daniels, Julia Sawalha,
Rebecca Front and Roy Heather who's in Only Fools as well, Andy Mackay who's
worked with Richard before and Mark Bannerman who's in Eastenders is going to
be a guest star, and Paul Reynolds who was in Press Gang."
So, caring-sharing Al is nothing like Pub Landlord, "If people don't realise it's
an act I think they've got problems. I'm like the landlord in that I like the sound
of my own voice but that's about it."
And he's nothing like Big Brother Alan either, "I get to play all these idiots - it's
some sort of cosmic joke."
Of course there's always the chance he'll grow into his the Landlord persona,
"I must admit when I started doing it about five years ago there were some times
when I'd think I can't quite carry this, I'm a little bit too young - but I'm past 30
now so certainly in 10 years time he'll be horrible.
You never know it might take me over. But I doubt that."
Time will tell.
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