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Murray Walker obituary: The inimitable voice of Formula One


Murray Walker will be remembered as the undisputed voice of Formula One.

Walker’s unique, high-octane style – once described by Australian comic Clive James as “sounding like a man whose trousers are on fire” – is forever ingrained in British sporting culture.

From James Hunt’s 1976 championship triumph over Niki Lauda at a rain-lashed Fuji, to Ayrton Senna’s intense rivalry with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell’s 1992 title triumph, Walker called it all in a remarkable broadcasting career which spanned 52 years.

When Damon Hill took the chequered flag at Suzuka to win the Japanese Grand Prix and become world champion in the early hours of an October morning in 1996, an emotional Walker cried: “I have got to stop because I have got a lump in my throat.”

It is those memorable words which will resonate among the motor racing community and generations of fans following his death at the age of 97.

Graeme Murray Walker was born in Birmingham to father Graham and mother Elsie on October 10, 1923. Graham was a prominent figure in motorcycling and enjoyed a 15-year career which culminated in him winning the prestigious Isle of Man TT race.

“You either loved what your father did or you loathed it,” Murray explained. “But my father was a great man, I was very fond of him, and I wanted to be like him.”

But before Walker could attempt to emulate him, he was conscripted into the British army, aged 18. Walker soon graduated from Sandhurst’s Royal Military College and went on to command a Sherman tank in the Battle of the Reichswald in World War Two.

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Walker reached the rank of captain but left the army in the years following the war and turned his attention back to two wheels.

Although he was a decent motorcyclist, Walker was not in the same league as his father, and it would be the advertising world where he would first make his name. Walker retained his passion for motor racing by commentating at the weekends.


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