20100424

Random story of Murray's rise to fame


The rise and rise of Colin Murray shows no signs of reaching a plateau. 

The former Radio One DJ, who quit the music station to move full time to Radio Five Live last summer, has made such a strong impression in such a short time that he has been given a key role in BBC television's coverage of this summer's World Cup finals.

The 33-year-old Ulsterman -- who made his debut on the printed page with A Random History of Football last year -- will front the late-night highlights show during the month-long tournament in South Africa, stepping into a role that had been earmarked for Match of the Day 2 presenter Adrian Chiles before the latter resigned from the corporation earlier this week.

Murray is also due to take Chiles's place on the Sunday night sofa from August.

The week's developments have seen both presenters emerge with their careers enhanced significantly.

According to the early gossip, Chiles had flounced away from what had been a lucrative contract with the Beeb after he learned that Chris Evans, the former Radio One presenter who took over Terry Wogan's show on Radio Two, had been hired to front the Friday edition of nightly magazine programme The One Show.

Within hours, however, it had been announced that ITV had swooped to make Chiles their main man at the World Cup, with a central role in the GMTV breakfast show to follow.

That deal is said to be worth 50 per cent more than the £1 million-a-year contract he had with the Beeb to present Apprentice spin-off You're Fired, as well as The One Show and MOTD 2.

Murray has been moving nicely up the Radio Five ladder, enjoying huge success as host of the Saturday morning comedy quiz show Fighting Talk.  He now fronts Five Live Sport on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

But going to mainstream TV sport is a substantial step up from his roles in Five's sporadic sports output, which have included NFL football and the European Poker Tour and, more recently, putting John Barnes out of his misery as anchor man for the station's UEFA Cup and Europa League coverage.

He has big shoes to step into in succeeding Chiles, whose distinct if not quite full-on Brummie accent has made him easy to identify among BBC presenters and whose so-called blokeish style has won him many fans.  Apart from a certain engaging ordinariness, he succeeds as a host and interviewer because, in his own words, he is "not afraid to ask a stupid question" if he does not fully understand a subject.

Murray appears less "blokeish" than hyperactively "laddish", which works when he is making off-the-cuff and often irreverent comments amid the laughter of a Fighting Talk broadcast, or bouncing jokily off the quirky Pat Nevin on a Five football show but might not translate so readily at moments when the BBC wants a more serious approach, as it certainly will from time to time.  By his own admission, he tends to say what comes into his head first.

Time will tell.  He is clearly a talented lad. In A Random History of Football, his high-tempo presentation style translates readily to the written word in a collection of stories identifying random events that have, in one way or another, helped shaped the history of the game.  Some critics dismissed it as "a bit nerdy" but Murray's radio fans have generally taken to it well.

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