Murray Walker’s talk ‘Murray on Monaco’ was a complete sell out, with 200 people packed into the National Motor Museum Trust’s Theatre.
Beaulieu One Hundred members filled the front row and all were enthralled by Murray’s recall of people and events from the world of Formula 1 and Monaco in particular.
He began with a moving tribute to the late Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu who he had known well since the mid 1950’s and who he very much admired and respected.
A photograph from 1963 showing Murray Walker, with Lord Montagu in the background
He then pitched in to a fabulous 75 minute illustrated reminiscence of the people and events in motor racing and the Monaco Grand Prix.
During his talk he suggested several ‘Best Drivers of all Time’ starting with Tazio Nuvolari who he first saw when he was 14 at the Donnington Grand Prix in 1938! Other favourites were Fangio, Senna and Shumacher but I sensed that, in Murray’s opinion, Jackie Stewart wore the crown.
We heard many anecdotes about the Monaco circuit, Murray delighted in having his hotel room in a ‘cheap’ hotel next door to the Hotel Metropole where the people on his next door balcony were paying 10 times more than him! In the early years his commentary box was no more than a single TV screen in the open air at the side of the track which he watched from a deckchair come rain or shine. He talked about his years when he shared the commentary with James Hunt. Not an easy relationship by all accounts and, to prevent them talking over each other, they had to share a single microphone.
After the interval Murray took questions from the floor for an hour or so when he showed his encyclopaedic powers of recall of events, dates, driver’s and cars from the world of motoring and motor cycling.
Asked about his ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of commentating he recalled the win of Damon Hill at Suzuka in 1996 when he admitted on air that he had to stop talking because of the lump in his throat. He had known Damon since he was born and was a close friend of the Hill family.
The ‘low’ point came with Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash at Monza in 1994. He had interviewed Ayrton earlier and, seeing the crash and the immediate aftermath he realised the consequences might be fatal. Keeping the commentary going and balancing his thoughts and emotions must have been so hard and reflected his great professionalism.
Murray talked about his friendship with Stirling Moss. We are good friends, he said, but not exactly mates. We are about the same age and are quite similar in many ways, particularly our appearance.
Murray Walker and Sir Stirling Moss at the opening of our Motorsport Exhibition.
He recounted a story where they were both lecturing on the same cruise ship. One evening Murray was stopped by a passenger who told him how much she had enjoyed his lectures. You are so knowledgeable and you recount your stories so well. He preened himself. She went on to say: “that commentator fellow is very good too…but I think you are much better!”
Towards the end he entertained us with some of his strap lines from his other profession. His day job was in advertising and he famously thought up:
“A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”,
“Opal Fruits are made to make your mouth water”,
“PAL, Prolongs Active Life”
and many others.
Finally, showing his loyalty to the BBC, Murray mentioned his fears that the BBC might soon lose its Grand Prix coverage to SKY and urged the audience to campaign for BBC coverage to continue.
Lord Montagu closed the evening with his vote of thanks, praising Murray Walker for his excellent presentation and pronouncing him a Living Legend in the world of sport and broadcasting.
Members of the Beaulieu One Hundred then had the opportunity to speak with Murray Walker after the show.
Murray, a founder member of the Beaulieu One Hundred, talked about how being a member of this select group provides unique opportunities to meet like minded people and to share ‘money can’t buy experiences.
This evening was certainly no exception!
Thank you to David Marklew and Gary and Kaye Crouch for your thoughts on the evening – and Thank You Murray for providing such a wonderfully, enjoyable evening.