Chris Morris

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Chris Morris in The Day Today

Chris Morris (born September 5, 1965) is a British comedy writer, satirist and radio DJ.

Morris was born in Cambridgeshire; both his parents were doctors. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Roman Catholic boys' boarding school in Lancashire, and then read zoology at Bristol University.


Early Career

On graduating, Morris took up a traineeship with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, where he took advantage of the free access to editing and recording equipment to create elaborate spoofs and parodies. On leaving Radio Cambridgeshire he worked at BBC Radio Bristol and Greater London Radio (GLR). Both stations fired him for on-air pranks, and for a time he was even banned from entering the BBC site at Bristol after letting off a helium canister during a live news broadcast..

In 1991 Morris largely gave up work as a mainstream disc-jockey and devoted himself to comedy with his radio project On the Hour. Working with Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Steve Coogan and others, he created a highly original spoof news show which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

Move into Television

In 1994 a television series based on On the Hour was broadcast under the name The Day Today. The Day Today made a star of Morris, and also helped to launch the careers of Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan. 1994 proved to be Morris's most critically successful year, as he presented a BBC Radio 1 series similar in content to, but sharper than, the Greater London Radio broadcasts, and teamed up with comedy legend Peter Cook, as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, in a series of improvised conversations for Radio Three, entitled Why Bother. Morris followed this with Blue Jam, a late-night ambient music and sketch show broadcast on Radio 1, which was reworked for television as Channel 4's Jam.

The "sick comedy" which had bubbled under in On the Hour and The Day Today found full release, however, with Brass Eye, another spoof current affairs television documentary show, this time shown on Channel 4. The station remit allowed for more shocking material, and Morris took full advantage of this freedom, exploring such taboos as infant mortality, incest, buggery, rape, suicide and sadomasochism. In 2001 a reprise of Brass Eye on the subject of paedophilia led to record numbers of viewer complaints, and a great deal of hysterical discussion in the press. Many complainants, some of whom later admitted to not having seen the programme (notably Estelle Morris, government minister), felt the satire was directed at the victims of paedophilia, which Morris denies. Most critics, however, felt that the programme's target was actually media coverage of the subject. It is interesting to note that the government's criticism appeared at a period of a rather severe worsening of the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis.

A Controversial Figure

Morris has also covered other controversial subjects. He once falsely claimed on the radio that Jimmy Savile and Conservative MP Michael Heseltine had died; had a show cancelled mid-broadcast when he played a scurrilous cut-up of the Archbishop of Canterbury's funeral oration for Diana, Princess of Wales; and performed a song in the style of Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker about notorious child-murderer Myra Hindley with the following lyrics: "Every time I see your picture, Myra/I have to phone my latest girlfriend up and fire her/And find a prostitute who looks like you and hire her/Oh, me oh Myra."

In 2002 Morris ventured into film with the short My Wrongs 8245 - 8249 and 117, a version of a Blue Jam sketch about a man looking after a sinister talking dog. It was the first film project of Warp Films, a branch of Warp Records. In 2003 this won the BAFTA for best short film.

Morris' latest project is a sitcom entitled Nathan Barley, based on the character created by Charlie Brooker for his website TVGoHome. Co-written by Brooker and Morris, the show's first episode was broadcast in February 2005.

Other Information

A significant feature of Morris's output is his music. He often composes and performs all incidental music for his television shows, notably with Jam and the 'extended remix' version, Jaaaaam. His parodies of musical performances (such as the Pulp spoof mentioned above and an Eminem in the Paedophilia special) are very accurate. This is due not only to his musical ability, but also to his understanding of the way in which the original artist created his music.

In 2003 he was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2004 Channel 4 aired a show called The Comedian's Comedian in which foremost writers and performers of comedy ranked their 50 favourite acts. Chris Morris was at number eleven, above many acclaimed comedians including Bill Hicks, Peter Sellers and Eddie Izzard.

Morris is widely regarded as someone reluctant to discuss his work, although he has given interviews, albeit rarely. His output since 2001 has contained little new material, consisting mainly of recycled material (dating back to 1994) reconfigured in a "darker" style. He is currently said to be eager to return to radio - news welcomed by a large part of his considerable fanbase.


External links

  • The Smoke Hammer ( - A site by Chris Morris
  • Template:Imdb name
  • CookdandBombd ( - A site devoted to the work of Chris Morris and his collaborators
  • Glebe's Thrift Funnel ( - A site about Chris Morris
  • ( - This site is referred to in Nathan Barley throughout and, notionally, is the creation of the titular character. The domain is as a result of the second level UK domain for company and the top level domain for the Cook Islands.

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