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Murray Walker, the Formula 1 commentary legend, dies aged 97 – Sky Sports

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Murray Walker, the legendary Formula 1 commentator, has passed away aged 97.

Widely regarded as the Voice of F1 in a motorsport commentary career that spanned almost 60 years until 2001, Walker was a household name both in Britain and around the world.

“It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE,” said the British Racing Drivers’ Club in a statement.

“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nations favourite commentator and a contagious smile.

“We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. RIP our friend.”

Martin Brundle began his commentary career next to Walker at ITV in 1997 and said: “Rest in Peace Murray Walker.

“Wonderful man in every respect. National treasure, communication genius, Formula One legend.”

Brundle added: “He was a wonderful character, always so full of life, full of fun and positive enthusiasm. We all loved him.

“In a high level sport, where you are universally loved and respected and regarded, I would think is quite unusual because that’s the sort of personality he was, he was so good at what he did. He had a passion for Formula 1 that is almost unsurpassed. The whole of our sport will be hugely saddened by this news.”

Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle says everyone in the world of F1 will mourn the loss of legendary commentator Murray Walker, who has died aged 97.

Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle says everyone in the world of F1 will mourn the loss of legendary commentator Murray Walker, who has died aged 97.

David Croft, Brundle’s fellow Sky Sports F1 commentator, tweeted: “Rest in Peace Murray Walker, a gentleman and a legend in every sense of the word.

“It was an honour to know you, a delight to spend time in your company and inspiring to listen and learn from you. THE voice of Formula 1 and always will be. Thankyou.”

In a statement, Formula 1 said: “We are immensely sad to hear that Murray Walker has passed away. His passion and love of the sport inspired millions of fans around the world.

“He will forever be a part of our history, and will be dearly missed.”

Silverstone, meanwhile, said Walker “brought the sport and some of its greatest moments to life in a way that ensured they remained seared in our memories for ever”.

More to follow…

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Murray Walker: 1923-2021

Sky Sports News Formula 1 reporter Craig Slater pays tribute to Murray Walker who has died aged 97

Sky Sports News Formula 1 reporter Craig Slater pays tribute to Murray Walker who has died aged 97

Born Graeme Murray Walker in October 1923, Murray Walker experienced a long and varied career even before becoming a full-time commentator.

Having been fast approaching his 16th birthday at the outbreak of World War Two, the young Murray volunteered to join the forces and, after completing his officer training at Sandhurst, joined a tank regiment in the Royal Scots Greys to serve his country.

Following the end of war, he rejoined Dunlop, where he had completed a business scholarship some years earlier, to begin what would prove a hugely successful career in advertising – which lasted all the way up to 1982.

But the lure of motorsport would ultimately prove too strong and would eventually lead to him down the path towards becoming a household name around the English-speaking world.

In truth, it should have been little surprise considering his father, Graham, was a despatch rider during the First World War and went on to both race in, and ultimately commentate on, bike racing.

Although he initially tried to carve out his own racing career on two wheels, Murray Walker the commentator – or in this case the PA announcer – was first heard at a hill climb event in 1948. Asked to stand in for the public address announcer, Murray unsurprisingly shone and a year later was making his sports broadcasting debut for real at Silverstone for the British GP on BBC Radio – a year before the F1 World Championship was formed.

He continued to combine his dual identity – advertising executive by weekday and passionate motor racing enthusiast and commentator at the weekend – over the following few decades with commentaries across the spectrum of motorsport from F1 to TT racing before the role that would ultimately come to define him came about in the late 1970s as the BBC decided to vastly expand its TV coverage of the top level of motorsport.

Choosing Murray to front its new Grand Prix programme was a masterstroke and over the next quarter of a century his unique commentary style became part of the fabric of the sport.

As did, famously, what affectionately became known over the years as his collection of ‘Murrayisms’ – the affectionate mistakes or slips of the tongue that added, rather than detracted, to the viewing experience.

Indeed his commentaries always came from the heart, no more so than when friend Damon Hill took the chequered flag at Suzuka in 1996 to emulate his father in winning the world championship and Murray quietly informed millions that “I’ve got to stop because I’ve got a lump in my throat”.

His two most famous and long-running commentary partnerships would prove similarly good value for viewers. Although initially apprehensive about the appearance of the flamboyant James Hunt alongside him in the commentary box, the pair struck up a famous double act for over a decade prior to the 1976 world champion’s untimely death in 1993.

Murray’s relationship with Martin Brundle proved equally popular after the UK’s F1 TV rights, and the ‘Voice’ himself, transferred to ITV at the start of the 1997 season to begin an unexpected new era in his incredible broadcasting career.

More than 50 years after his commentary debut at Silverstone, Murray was still captivating F1 audiences as the new century dawned. But aware that he wanted to retire while still at the top of his game, at the end of the 2001 season and just two years shy of his 80th birthday, he hung up his microphone for the last time after commentating on that year’s US Grand Prix.

He later even became a Honda F1 ambassador and was a popular attendee of F1 events even after passing the age of 90, with his famous enthusiasm for the sport undimmed.

As his successors ever since have remarked, it’s a pointless task trying to emulate Murray Walker.

He was a true one-off.

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