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Rory McGrath

Rory McGrath
Rory McGrath (September 2012)
Born Patrick Rory McGrath
(1956-03-17) 17 March 1956
Redruth, Cornwall, England, UK
Occupation Comedian, writer
Years active 1979–present

Patrick Rory McGrath (born 17 March 1956), known as Rory McGrath, is a British comedian and writer. He is best known for roles in Who Dares Wins, Chelmsford 123, Three Men in a Boat and its successors. He was also a regular panellist on They Think It's All Over.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Publications 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

McGrath was born in Redruth in Cornwall , England. He studied at Redruth Grammar School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, from which he received a lower second class degree[1] in modern languages.[2]


McGrath became a member of the Footlights[3] while at Cambridge and met Jimmy Mulville, with whom he wrote and performed. After university, they wrote BBC radio scripts for Frankie Howerd and Windsor Davies. McGrath also co-wrote Black Cinderella Two Goes East with Clive Anderson for BBC Radio 2 in 1978. McGrath and Mulville went on to write for shows such as Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones, and they were part of the team of writer/performers behind the Channel 4 comedy sketch series Who Dares Wins.

In 1986, McGrath, with Jimmy Mulville and Denise O'Donoghue, co-founded the independent British TV production company Hat Trick Productions. An early production was Chelmsford 123 (1988 and 1990), which McGrath and Mulville wrote and performed. In 1990, he hosted the game show Trivial Pursuit on BBC One, but in 1992 he was dismissed from Hat Trick, allegedly for not pulling his weight. The confrontation came days after McGrath had left his wife and two young children.[4] He was a panel member on the BBC comedy sports quiz They Think It's All Over (1995–2006). He was presenter of the series Rory's Commercial Breakdown (1997), where humorous adverts were shown from different countries. He has made two football DVDs, Own Goals and Gaffs - The Premiership in 2002 and More Own Goals and Gaffs in 2003.

Since 2006, McGrath has starred in the BBC's Three Men in a Boat series, alongside Dara Ó Briain and Griff Rhys Jones. The series has included the trio rowing up the River Thames (similar to the 1889 novel also named Three Men in a Boat), sailing from London to the Isle of Wight for a sailing yacht race, borrowing numerous vessels to make their way from Plymouth to the Isles of Scilly, taking to the Irish Canals and Rivers and along with Dara's dog (Snip Nua), an escapade travelling throughout the Mediterranean to Venice and most recently attempting to find a boat to take to the anniversary of the Statue of Liberty, where in response to an ongoing challenge between Griff and Dara (who had each secured a boat each and who refusing to give it up to use the others) he secured the Nantucket Lightship to use. He also hosted Industrial Revelations: Best of British Engineering, series 5, first broadcast in 2008.

His first book, Bearded Tit - Confessions of a Birdwatcher, was published by Ebury Press on 1 May 2008 and was serialised by BBC Radio 4.

First airing in August 2008, McGrath co-starred in a 4-part television series with British comedian Paddy McGuinness, broadcast on Channel 5, Rory and Paddy's Great British Adventure. McGuinness and McGrath embark on a nationwide road-trip, "on a mission to explore Britain’s sporting heritage by probing the hidden life of its towns and villages". The series focused on arcane sports such as cheese rolling, toe wrestling and swamp soccer.

In 2011, McGrath presented Pub Dig for History. He has presented documentary series The Lakes for ITV1 and in 2013 the live at five 'Paul O'Grady Show'.

Personal life

McGrath is married to Nicola, whom he met at Cambridge and was devastated when she married someone else. After both their marriages failed, she contacted him and they restarted their relationship.[4]

McGrath supports Arsenal. He and Peter Cook (a Tottenham supporter) used to have a friendly rivalry over their respective clubs. On the night that Cook died in January 1995, Tottenham had beaten Arsenal. McGrath found out about his friend's death after failing to receive Cook's usual abusive phonecall the next morning.[5]

McGrath is a friend of Ralph McTell and fan of McTell's music.[6] He recently contributed extensive album notes to Affairs of the Heart, a McTell compilation album.[7]

In July 2013, McGrath received a caution for assaulting two people while he was "heavily in drink" in May that year.[8][9]


  • McGrath, Rory (2008). Bearded Tit. London: (story of the author's life among birds)  
  • McGrath, Rory (2011). The Father, the Son and the Ghostly Hole: Confessions from a guilt-edged life. London: [10] (A memoir of a lapsed Catholic who can’t quite fully escape) 


  1. ^ "Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Rory McGrath, comedian". The Independent (London). 12 February 2009. 
  2. ^ Rory McGrath interview at Cambridge tab. Retrieved 3 January 2014
  3. ^ "Interview: Rory McGrath".  
  4. ^ a b "Rory McGrath profile".  
  5. ^ Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast Starting 46:20.
  6. ^ [3] Spiral Earth website Retrieved Feb 2010.
  7. ^ [4] Ralph McTell website Retrieved Feb 2010.
  8. ^ Iivonen-Gray, Katri (2013-07-05). "Redruth-born comedian Rory McGrath cautioned for three assaults". This Is Cornwall (Cornwall, United Kingdom:  
  9. ^ "Rory McGrath cautioned over Cornwall assaults". United Kingdom: BBC News. 2013-07-05. Retrieved 2013-07-05. McGrath was arrested by police called to a house in Pool, near Redruth, on 10 May last year. At the time, the force [Devon and Cornwall Police] said a man had assaulted a male and female couple "who it is understood, were attempting to assist this man who was heavily in drink". 
  10. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (5 March 2011). "'"Rory McGrath: 'Look away now, Mum!. The Guardian. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 

External links

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