Wednesday, 7 July 2010



Chic Murray, one of Scotland's greatest comedians, was born Charles Thomas McKinnon Murray in Greenock, in 1919. He began an apprenticeship in engineering at Kincaid's shipyard in 1934 whilst employing his musical talents in amateur groups such as The Whinhillbillies and Chic and His Chicks. He formed a double-act with his wife, Maidie Dickson. Billed as "The Tall Droll with the Small Doll" their combination of jokes and songs made them a popular attraction on television and in theatres throughout the country. The peak of their success was in 1956 when they appeared in the Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium. Later, working as a solo act, with a forbidding expression and omnipresent "bunnet", Chic offered a comic vision of the world that was absurd, surreal and absolutely unique. Much mimicked and much loved by his fellow professionals, he acted in films such as Casino Royale (1967), appeared as the headmaster in Gregory's Girl (1980) and played Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly in the musical play You'll Never Walk Alone (1984). He died in Edinburgh in 1985 at the age of sixty-five.

"Chic Murray was brought up in the land of sugar, ships and showers. He got a lot of his tales from the Tail of the Bank - joiners, platers, plumbers in the yard, were his main source of supply. A very funny man, originality in style was the keynote. He toured the halls both as a double act with his 4 feet 11 inches high wife Maidie - a clever wee lass, as a feed, a singer and accordionist.

Chic's fun was plucked from life. He perhaps combined the humour of two of his mates and the character that emerged was a riot. The two workmen, who were the subject of his impersonation, probably didn't twig it but they certainly enjoyed the result.

A typical Chic Murray joke "I met this chap at the Olympics. I said to him, "Excuse me but are you a pole vaulter?", he replied,"No, I'm German, but how did you know my name was Walter."

Latterly Chic was making films all over the world. In fact when one bumped into him in Glasgow and asked him what he was doing - "doing" he would repeat indignantly "I suppose because you don't see me at the theatre or on the local TV you think I'm not working. Listen fellah I can't do half the work I'm offered. I arrived from Germany this morning. I'm making a film out there - they like me there you know - and flying out to Hollywood on Tuesday for another film. Back here I've got two jobs to do for Bill Forsyth - I like him. Yes it's busy, busy, I'm thinking of doing the love life of a lamplighter - ha ha !" He was a big success in a cameo part in Bill Forsyth's 'Gregory's Girl' where he played a headmaster and was ideal for the role but a few eyebrows were raised when he gave a girl permission to play in the boy's football team."

Archie McCulloch
Goodbye from Archie

Here are just a few examples of Chic's unique material:

It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to have to paint it.

I made a stupid mistake last week. Come to think of it, did you ever hear of someone making a clever mistake?

So I gave him a wave. Actually, it was more of a half wave, because I only half know him.

What use is happiness? It can't buy you money.

I met this cowboy with a brown paper hat, paper waistcoat and paper trousers. He was wanted for rustling.

If something's neither here nor there, where the hell is it?

My father was a simple man. My mother was a simple woman. You see the result standing in front of you, a simpleton.

I had a tragic childhood. My parents never understood me. They were Japanese.

I won't say I was slow developer, but our teacher was quite pleased to have someone her own age in the class to talk to.

If it weren't for marriage, husband and wives would have to fight with strangers.

After I told my wife that black underwear turned me on, she didn't wash my Y-fronts for a month.

Kippers- fish that like a lot of sleep.

The boat was so old; it must have been launched when Long John Silver had two legs and an egg on his shoulder.

It was a pretty posh place. They were so used to fur coats that two bears strolled in and ordered lunch and nobody even noticed.

I felt as out of place as a left-handed violinist in a crowded string section.

Get into yourself to get yourself out of your self. Then try to lose yourself.

I drew a gun. He drew a gun. I drew another gun. Soon we were surrounded by lovely drawings of guns.

We've got stained glass windows in our house. It's those damned pigeons.

You know what they say about stamp collecting. Philately will get you nowhere.

There's a new slimming course just out where they remove all your bones. Not only do you weigh less, but you also look so much more relaxed.

The police stopped me when I was out in my car. They told me it was a spot check. I admitted to two pimples and a boil.

I first met my wife in the tunnel of love. She was digging it at the time.

I dreamt I was forced to eat 25lbs of marshmallows. When I woke up, my pillow was missing.

My girlfriends a redhead, no hair, just a red head.

I admit to spending a fortune on women, booze and gambling. The rest I spend foolishly.

A neighbour put his budgerigar in the mincing machine and invented shredded tweet.

My parents were wonderful, always there with a ready compromise. My sister wanted a cat for a pet I wanted a dog, so they bought a cat and taught it to bark.

I got up this morning. I like to get up in the morning; it gives me the rest of the day to myself. I crossed the landing and went down stairs. Mind you, if there had been no stairs, I wouldn't even have attempted it.

We were so poor; the ultimate luxury in our house at the time was ashtrays without advertisements. It was all the wolf could do to keep us away from his door. A luxury meal was prairie sandwiches- two slices of bread with wide-open spaces between them. There were so many holes in my socks I could put them on seventeen different ways.

She had been married so often she bought a drip-dry wedding dress.

My mother was so house proud that when my father got up to sleepwalk she had the bed made by the time he got back.

This friend of mine had a terrible upbringing. When his mother lifted him up to feed him, his father rented the pram out. Then when they came into money later, his mother hired a woman to push the pram - and he's been pushed for money ever since.

I went to the butchers to buy a leg of lamb. "Is it Scotch?", I asked. "Why?" the butcher said in reply. Are you going to talk to it or eat it?". "In that case, have you got any wild duck?". "No", he responded, "but I've got one I could aggravate for you".

I rang the bell of this small bed-and breakfast place, whereupon a lady appeared at an outside window. "What do you want?", she asked. "I want to stay here", I replied. "Well, stay there then", she said and closed the window.

A Scot is a man who keeps the Sabbath, and everything else he can lay his hands on.

I was in London the other day and this man came up to me and asked me if I knew the Battersea dog's home. I said that I didn't know it had been away.

There are two rules for drinking whisky. First, never take whisky without water, and second, never take water without whisky.

My wife went to a beauty parlour and got a mudpack. For two days she looked nice, then the mud fell off.

I don't swim. I can swim. I just don't have much cause to do so in the normal run of things.

So there I was lying in the gutter. A man stopped and asked '"What's the matter? Did you fall over?" So I said "No. I've a bar of toffee in my back pocket and I was just trying to break it."

This chap started talking to me about this and that - about which I know very little.

My father was from Aberdeen, and a more generous man you couldn't wish to meet. I have a gold watch that belonged to him. He sold it to me on his deathbed. I wrote him a cheque for it, post dated of course.

It was raining cats and dogs and I fell in a poodle.

I was out walking the other evening. This fellow accosted me, and asked if that was the moon up there in the sky. I replied that I had no idea as I was a stranger there myself.

I was taking my dog out the other day and I met this chap who asked me where I was going. The dog is foaming at the mouth, so I explained that I was on my way to the vet to have it put down. He asked if it was mad, to which I replied that it wasn't exactly pleased about it.

This chap said to me, "If you look over there, you'll see Dumbarton Rock". Well, I looked for 20 minutes and the thing never moved an inch.

I met this chap at the Olympics. I said to him, "Excuse me but are you a pole vaulter?", he replied,"No, I'm German, but how did you know my name was Walter."

I went to the doctor and he told me I only had three minutes to live. I immediately asked if there was anything he could do for me, to which he replied, that he could boil me an egg.


subrosa said...

I loved Chic Murray. He used to be on TV with Duncan McRae every Hogmanay when I was a wee lass. Those were the days. Thanks for that LotF.

Key bored warrior. said...

Rosie I was lucky enough to be at that show in Aberdeen in His Majestys theatre. A lovely place. Chic brought the house down, the clip cannot bring you the atmosphere as I experienced it. The sight of people crying with laughter was a pure joy to watch.

I worked in the TV business and on shows such as The Lena Martell show from Motherwell Civic centre. The British Legion used to be right next door, which became Chics office, and was where people who wanted him for sound checks etc were required to go, needless to say they had to endure some wicked ribbing before he would leave.

He was a complicated character, and like so many including Connoly, very insecure, but magic wit and insight. he was a great loss to the business.

Scot Independent.


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