Pete Murray (DJ)

Peter Murray James, OBE (born 19 September 1925),[1] known professionally as Pete Murray, is a British radio and television presenter and a stage and screen actor.[2] His broadcasting career spanned over 50 years.

Peter Murray
Peter Murray James

(1925-09-19) 19 September 1925
London, UK
CountryUnited Kingdom


Murray first joined the English service of Radio Luxembourg in 1949 or 1950 as one of its resident announcers in the Grand Duchy, and remained there until 1956. Back in London, and now calling himself "Pete" rather than "Peter", he continued to be heard frequently on Radio Luxembourg for many years, introducing pre-recorded sponsored programmes. He also presented popular music on the BBC Light Programme, particularly in the programme Pete Murray's Party from 1958 to 1961, and co-hosted one of BBC Television's earliest pop music programmes, the skiffle-based Six-Five Special (1957–1958);[3] other regular presenters were Jo Douglas and Freddie Mills. He was a regular panellist on the same channel's Juke Box Jury (1959–1967).[4] He was the "guest DJ" on several editions of ABC-TV's Thank Your Lucky Stars (1961–1966) and he later hosted Come Dancing. He was among the first regular presenters of Top of the Pops when it began in January 1964. In 1961 he co-starred with Dora Bryan in a TV sitcom about two newly weds entitled Happily Ever After.

During the early 1960s, he co-hosted the New Musical Express Poll Winners' Concert, annually held at Empire Pool, Wembley, with acts such as the Beatles, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Joe Brown and the Bruvvers, the Who, and many others. These were shown on television. In September 1968, he stood in for Alan Freeman on Pick of the Pops, while Freeman was in New York. Murray linked up with him for a look at the American pop scene during the two shows that he did.

Murray hosted the UK heat of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1959 and provided the British commentary for the contest itself on both radio and television in 1959 until 1961 and in 1968 and again in 1972 until 1973 for radio, and television commentary for the 1975 and 1977 contest. He was an occasional compère of variety shows at the London Palladium.

Murray was one of the original BBC Radio 1 disc-jockeys when the station started in 1967. By 1969, he was one of the mainstays of BBC Radio 2, where for over ten years he anchored the two-hour magazine show Open House five days a week, heard by 5.5 million listeners.[5] One April Fools' Day he pretended that the show was being televised. In 1973 and 1976, he was voted BBC Radio Personality of the Year.[6] In 1974, he was featured on the Emerson, Lake and Palmer live album 'Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends ~ Ladies and Gentlemen' as the master of ceremonies, at the beginning of the album.

In 1980, Radio 2 moved Murray from weekday to weekend programming. In 1981 he began a move into more serious, speech-only radio with a stint as presenter of Midweek on BBC Radio 4. In 1984, he started afresh as a presenter for LBC, a local talk radio station in London. He later won the Variety Club of Great Britain award for his show. He introduced his last programme there on 22 December 2002, and has not broadcast regularly since. In August 2008, however, he returned as a presenter on an Internet-only station, UK Light Radio.[7]

Murray was also an actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and is a RADA Gold Medallist. On the London stage he starred in the musical Scapa! (1962).[8] In 1968, he appeared in a short-lived British sitcom, Mum's Boys, opposite Bernard Bresslaw and Irene Handl,[9] and had roles in several films including My Brother Jonathan (1948), Escort for Hire (1960), A Taste of Money (1960), Design for Loving (1962), The Cool Mikado (1962), Simon, Simon (1970) and Cool It Carol! (1970). He also appeared in pantomime, and guested on many radio and TV panel games. In 1984 and 1985, he was a team captain on the ITV panel game Vintage Quiz. In 2015, at the age of 89, he appeared as a guest on a chat show on Big Centre TV hosted by his former radio colleague David Hamilton.

Personal life

Murray married a woman called Germain in Luxembourg in 1952 but they divorced. He was in a relationship with Valerie Singleton, before marrying Patricia Crabbe, a former barrister.[10] He once broke down on live television after his son, Michael Murray James, who had been a pupil at Wycliffe College, also an actor, committed suicide at the age of 27, and afterwards he gave talks on coping with family tragedy.[11]

In politics, Murray declared himself a Conservative Party supporter in 1983.[12] He is a lifelong teetotaller. In 1983 he appeared as a guest newspaper reviewer on the BBC TV's early morning magazine show Breakfast Time. During an outburst he told viewers how to vote at the upcoming election, and said that "a vote for Labour is a vote for communism. "May God have mercy on your soul if you don't vote Conservative".[13] At the end of 1983, the BBC cancelled his radio shows, describing his style of broadcasting as too old-fashioned.[14]


  • (With Jeremy Hornsby) One Day I'll Forget My Trousers (autobiography), London, 1975. ISBN 0-903925-31-1


  1. 1928 according to some sources, but the earlier date is more frequently quoted.
  2. Born: 25 September 1925, London (25 September 1925). "Pete Murray | BFI | BFI". Retrieved 13 March 2014.
  3. "Three leaving cast of Six-Five Special", The Times (London), 26 March 1958
  4. Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 2100. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  5. BBC Annual Report, noted in The Times (London), 13 November 1970
  6. The Times (London), 1 January 1973; The Times, (London), 20 April 1976
  7. Media Network blog Archived 15 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Better Without the Lyrics: Play Disappoints as a Musical", The Times (London), 9 March 1962
  9. "Disc Jockey in BBC1 Comedy Series", The Times (London), 6 February 1968
  10. "Radio GaGa? Not us, pop pickers: With a combined age of 400, these veteran DJs are set to unleash a rock'n'roll revolution". Daily Mail. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  11. "A suicide in the family", The Times (London), 1 June 1983.
  12. "Thespians show their colours", The Times (London), 23 May 1983.
  13. Peter Smark "How Labour Hanged Itself", Sydney Morning Herald, 20 June 1983, p.12
  14. "Pete Murray is dropped from BBC shows", The Times (London), 18 October 1983.
Preceded by
David Vine
Eurovision Song Contest UK Commentator
Succeeded by
Michael Aspel
Preceded by
Michael Aspel
Eurovision Song Contest UK Commentator
Succeeded by
Terry Wogan
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