Murray Walker: Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken

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9780007126965: Murray Walker: Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken

The voice of motor racing – and the man responsible for introducing millions of viewers to the previously inaccessible world of Formula 1 – tells the story of his incident-packed life.

Murray Walker is an institution. When the man who made famous the catchphrase 'Unless I'm very much mistaken… I AM very much mistaken!!!' announced that he was retiring as ITV's Grand Prix commentator at the end of the 2001 season, the media reacted as if the sport itself was losing one of its biggest stars.

His reputation for mistakes was the making of Walker. He was the fan who happened to be given the keys to the commentary box – and never wanted to give them back. His high-octane delivery kept viewers on the edge of their seats, while his passion for talking about the sport he loved was matched by an all-encompassing knowledge gained through hours of painstaking research before every race.

In fact he's a throwback to another age who managed to survive and indeed prosper from the revolutions in motor racing. In his book he writes about his childhood and the influence that his father, British motorcycle champion Graham Walker, had on his career. Failing to match his father's achievements on the track, he made a successful career for himself in advertising which catapulted him to the top of his profession.

An offer from the BBC to take over the commentary seat for their F1 broadcasts was manna from heaven for Walker, and it wasn't long before the infamous 'Murrayisms' enlivened a sport which until then had been shrouded in a cloak of unfathomable technical jargon and mind-numbing statistics.

He also talks about the biggest changes in the sport over the last 50 years, in particular the safety issues which came to the fore after the tragic death of Ayrton Senna. His partnership with James Hunt behind the microphone is the subject of some hilarious anecdotes, while his views on drivers such as Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Eddie Irvine and David Coulthard make for fascinating reading.

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Review:

The drivers and teams changed, but for as long as most people can remember, Murray Walker--fast, furious and very flappable--was the voice of Formula One. In Unless I'm Very Much Mistaken, the much-loved commentator reflects on a unique career with all the style and enthusiasm that he brought to his broadcasts

Whether he's talking about his first experiences of motor sport as a competitor, his time in the army, his career in advertising, his transition from media part-timer to media legend or his retirement from frontline F1 broadcasts at the end of the 2001 season, Walker has a fascinating story to tell--and he retains his journalist's sense of what the people really want to know. He shares his face-to-face knowledge of motor sport gods like Fangio and Enzo Ferrari and recalls his less daunting encounters with British luminaries such as Nigel Mansell, the Hills, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt, including the occasion when the latter pair sniped at each other in a memorable commentary box match-up. There's also a good selection of the best Murrayisms, such as "And the battle is well and truly on if it wasn't before, and it certainly was!", "There's nothing wrong with the car except it's on fire!" and "I just stopped my startwatch".

Tremendous admiration for the skills and courage of the stars of his sport epitomises the Walker approach. This is no doubt fuelled by his own slightly fraught attempt at piloting a Formula One car in 1983 and by his experience at less pedestrian speed 15 years later when he was strapped into a two-seater McLaren behind co-commentator Martin Brundle. But he also gently settles one or two scores along the way. Elsewhere he reflects on the itinerary of affection so peculiar to the life of a British celebrity--This Is Your Life, Desert Island Discs and an OBE--and on his private life, his hugely influential parents, his late and happy marriage and what he hopes retirement will bring. It's a tribute to the man's singular voice that so much of the tone of this book is unmistakably Murray. It's not high-octane blunder-speckled race vintage, but the scripted television style he has made his own, a more measured bombast that makes this generously illustrated tome very easy to like. --Alex Hankin

Review:

‘The sheer force and sincerity of his enthusiasm has long made him the most imitated as well as the most loved broadcaster in British life’ Daily Telegraph

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