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Al Murray: ‘Pub Landlord was an accident that’s lasted 25 years’

He went on to write four books, star in his own sitcom and even front a political campaign but Al Murray’s Pub Landlord came from hastier beginnings than you might imagine.

They may say that the best ideas come to those who wait but, unlike Al Murray, “they” haven’t been standing panicked in the wings of an Edinburgh Festival show with dead comedy air to fill.

As Murray told Janice Forsyth on The Edinburgh Show, his own career-making thunderbolt came to him out of the blue while backstage and under serious pressure to fill ten minutes of a show with Harry Hill at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Al Murray: ‘Pub Landlord character began as a last minute filler for Harry Hill's show’

Everyone’s favourite publican nearly didn't exist if it weren't for a red hot deadline.

“The Pub Landlord was born in Edinburgh entirely by accident in a show in the Cabaret Car at the Pleasance.

“The next day I cut all my hair off and there in the mirror was the pub landlord.”

I was doing a show with Harry Hill and I was playing the drums in that show and we had a little band called the pub band and the show was called Pub Internationale but we had no linking device for it and I was going to compere.”

“I’d written something that was rubbish... so I said to Harry ‘how about we say the compere hasn’t turned up and the barman here in the bar has offered to fill in’. He said ‘yeah if you think if that’s going to work you might as well try it, because your last idea was terrible.”

“I went on and it worked! And I came off and wrote some more things down on the back of an envelope went back on because I was compering and that worked!

“The next day I cut all my hair off and there in the mirror was the pub landlord.”

“Entirely by accident, entirely to fill literally the next ten minutes. We did a great big tour and by the end of it I had an act.”

”That was 25 years ago, so that ten minutes has lasted 25 years.”

BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals 2019

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