Chris Morris (satirist)
Chris Morris
Born 15 June 1962 (1962-06-15) (age 49)[1]
Bristol, England
Medium Radio, television, print
Years active 1986–present
Genres Black humour, satire
Subject(s) Current events
BAFTA Awards

Best Short Film
2002 My Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117 [2]

BAFTA Award for Outstanding Debut by a British director, writer or producer
2011 Four Lions [3]
British Comedy Awards
Best TV Comedy Newcomer
1994 The Day Today [4]

Christopher Morris (born 15 June 1962) is an English satirist, writer, director and actor. A former radio DJ, he is best known for anchoring the spoof news and current affairs television programmes The Day Today and Brass Eye, as well as his frequent engagement with controversial subject matter.

In 2010 Morris directed his first feature-length film Four Lions about a group of inept British terrorists. Reception of the film was largely positive and received a respectable box office.[5] Outside his central work, Morris tends to stay out of the public eye and has become one of the more enigmatic figures in British comedy.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Morris grew up in Cambridgeshire. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit boarding school in Lancashire,[6] and studied zoology at the University of Bristol.[7] He is the brother of theatre director and producer Tom Morris.[8]

Radio career

On graduating, Morris took up a traineeship with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, where he took advantage of access to editing and recording equipment to create elaborate spoofs and parodies. He also spent time in early 1987 hosting a 2–4pm afternoon show and finally ended up presenting Saturday morning show I.T.. In July 1987, he moved on to BBC Radio Bristol to present his own show "No Known Cure", and later joined, from its launch, Greater London Radio (GLR).

Until 1990, he was presenting Friday night and Saturday morning shows on Radio Bristol and a Sunday morning show on GLR.

In 1991, Morris reduced his work as a mainstream disc jockey and devoted himself to comedy with his new radio project On the Hour. Working with Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Steve Coogan and others, he created the spoof news show on BBC Radio 4. In 1994, Morris began a weekly evening show, the Chris Morris Music Show, on BBC Radio 1 alongside Peter Baynham and 'man with a mobile phone' Paul Garner. In the shows, Morris perfected the spoof interview style that would become a central component of his Brass Eye programme. The show's pranks left BBC bosses nonplussed, and a profanity-laden mid-afternoon show on Boxing Day was his last.[citation needed]

In the same year, Morris teamed up with Peter Cook, as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, in a series of improvised conversations for BBC Radio 3, entitled Why Bother?. Morris followed this with Blue Jam, a late-night ambient music and sketch show on Radio 1, which was later reworked for television as Channel 4's Jam.

Move into television and film

In 1994, a BBC 2 television series based on On the Hour was broadcast under the name The Day Today. The Day Today made a star of Morris, and helped to launch the careers of Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan.

The black humour which had featured in On the Hour and The Day Today became more prominent in Brass Eye, another spoof current affairs television documentary, shown on Channel 4. Brass Eye became known for tricking celebrities and politicians into throwing support behind public awareness campaigns for made-up issues that were often absurd or surreal (such as a drug called cake and an elephant with its trunk stuck up its anus). In 2001, a reprise of Brass Eye on the moral panic that surrounds paedophilia led to a record-breaking number of complaints – it still remains the third highest on UK television after Celebrity Big Brother 2007 and Jerry Springer: The Opera – as well as heated discussion in the press. Many complainants, some of whom later admitted to not having seen the programme (notably Beverley Hughes, a government minister),[9] felt the satire was directed at the victims of paedophilia, which Morris denies. Channel 4 defended the show, insisting the target was the media and its hysterical treatment of paedophilia, and not victims of crime.

Morris also wrote and directed Jam, a television reworking of his radio show Blue Jam. Darker and more unsettling than his previous work, the show explored such taboos as infant mortality, incest, anal sex, rape, suicide and sadomasochism through a series of unsettling, dreamlike sketches with a soundtrack of ambient music. This was followed by a 'remix' version, Jaaaaam.

In 2002, Morris ventured into film, directing the short My Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117, adapted from a Blue Jam monologue about a man led astray by a sinister talking dog. It was the first film project of Warp Films, a branch of Warp Records. In 2002 this won the BAFTA for best short film.[2] In 2005 Morris worked on a sitcom entitled Nathan Barley, based on the character created by Charlie Brooker for his website TVGoHome. Co-written by Brooker and Morris, the series was broadcast on Channel 4 in early 2005.

Recent work

Morris was a cast member in The IT Crowd, a Channel 4 sitcom focusing on the information technology department of the fictional company Reynholm Industries. The series is written and directed by Graham Linehan (writer of Father Ted and Black Books, with whom Morris collaborated on The Day Today, Brass Eye and Jam) and produced by Ash Atalla (The Office). Morris played Denholm Reynholm, the eccentric managing director of the company. This marked the first time Morris has acted in a substantial role in a project which he has not developed himself and is more mainstream than his earlier work. Morris's character appeared to leave the series during episode two of the second series. His character made a brief return in the first episode of the third series.

In November 2007, Morris wrote an article for The Observer in response to Ronan Bennett's article published six days earlier in The Guardian. Bennett's article, "Shame on us'", accused the novelist Martin Amis of racism. Morris's response, "The absurd world of Martin Amis", was also highly critical of Amis; although he didn't accede to Bennett's accusation of racism, Morris likened Amis to the Muslim cleric Abu Hamza (who was jailed for inciting racial hatred in 2006), suggesting that both men employ "mock erudition, vitriol and decontextualised quotes from the Qu'ran" to incite hatred.[10]

Morris served as script editor for the 2009 series Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle, working with former colleagues Stewart Lee, the actor Kevin Eldon and Armando Iannucci.

Morris completed his debut feature film Four Lions in late 2009, a satire based on a group of Islamist terrorists in Sheffield.[11] It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festival's World Cinema Narrative prize.[12] The film (working title Boilerhouse) was picked up by Film Four.[13] Morris told The Sunday Times that the film, will seek to do for Islamic terrorism what Dad's Army, the classic BBC comedy, did for the Nazis by showing them as "scary but also ridiculous".[14]

Music

Morris often co-writes and performs incidental music for his television shows, notably with Jam and the 'extended remix' version, Jaaaaam. Morris supplied sketches for British band Saint Etienne's 1993 single "You're in a Bad Way" (the sketch 'Spongbake' appears at the end of the 4th track on the CD single). In 2000, he collaborated by mail with Amon Tobin to create the track "Bad Sex", which was released as a B-side on the Tobin single "Slowly".[15] British band Stereolab's song "Nothing to Do with Me" from their 2001 album Sound-Dust featured various lines from Chris Morris sketches as lyrics.[16] He has also been sampled by The Orb.[citation needed]

Recognition

In 2003, Morris was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy.[17] In 2005, Channel 4 aired a show called The Comedian's Comedian in which foremost writers and performers of comedy ranked their 50 favourite acts. Morris was at number eleven.[18] Morris won the BAFTA for outstanding debut with his film Four Lions. Adeel Akhtar and Nigel Lindsay collected the award in his absence, Morris sent them a text before they collected the award reading, 'Dowsed in petrol, zippo at the ready'.[19]

Personal life

Morris lives in Brixton, with literary agent Jo Unwin, and has two sons, both of whom were born in Lambeth, London: Charles Peter (born 1996) and Frederick Rudolf (born 1999).[7][20] He has given very few interviews and little is known about Morris's personal life.

Morris can be heard as himself in a podcast for CERN.[21]

His brothers are National Theatre associate director Tom Morris and television director Ben Morris.

Works

References

  1. ^ "Media Medium: Chris Morris". Companyguide.co.uk. 2001-08-06. http://www.companyguide.co.uk/gm060801.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  2. ^ a b "BAFTA: Film Nominations 2002". http://www.bafta.org/awards/film/nominations/?year=2002. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  3. ^ "Awards database". http://www.bafta.org/awards-database.html?year=2010&category=Film&award=Outstanding+Debut+By+A+British+Writer,+Director+Or+Producer. Retrieved 8 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "British Comedy Awards: 1994 winners". http://www.britishcomedyawards.com/pastwinners94.html. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  5. ^ http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/article/16915/UK-Box-Office-30-July---1-August-2010
  6. ^ "Chris Morris: Brass Neck". BBC News. 27 July 2001. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1460463.stm. Retrieved 23 June 2008. "The son of two Cambridgeshire GPs, Chris Morris was educated at Stonyhurst College" 
  7. ^ a b Ferguson, Euan (22 July 2001). "The Observer Profile: Chris Morris". The Observer (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2001/jul/22/comment.euanferguson. Retrieved 23 June 2008. 
  8. ^ Powell, Lucy (2010-02-22). "Tom Morris, the brother with the brass neck". The Times (London). http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article7033825.ece. Retrieved 2011-06-14. 
  9. ^ McSmith, Andy (31 July 2001). "Minister in Brass Eye protest has not even seen it". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1335865/Minister-in-Brass-Eye-protest-has-not-even-seen-it.html. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  10. ^ Morris, Chris (25 November 2007). "The absurd world of Martin Amis". London: The Observer. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/nov/25/bookscomment.religion. Retrieved 22 June 2008. "Last week Amis was called a racist. I saw him speak at the ICA last month. Was his negativity about Islam technically racist? I don't know. What I can tell you is that Martin Amis is the new Abu Hamza. […] Like Hamza, Amis could only make his nonsense stand up with mock erudition, vitriol and decontextualised quotes from the Koran." 
  11. ^ "Set shot from Chris Morris' Four Lions". Bleeding Cool.com. http://www.bleedingcool.com/2009/07/17/set-shot-from-chris-morris-four-lions/. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  12. ^ "2010 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FILMS IN COMPETITION | Sundance Festival 2010". Festival.sundance.org. http://festival.sundance.org/2010/press_industry/releases/2010_sundance_film_festival_announces_films_in_competition/. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  13. ^ Roberts, Geneviève (6 January 2009). "Wannabe suicide bombers beware: Chris Morris movie gets go-ahead". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/wannabe-suicide-bombers-beware-chris-morris-movie-gets-goahead-1228152.html. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  14. ^ Brooks, Richard (13 January 2008). "Satirist turns terrorists into Dad's Army". London: The Sunday Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article3177654.ece. Retrieved 13 January 2008. 
  15. ^ "Amon Tobin (feat Chris Morris at Discogs". Discogs.com. 2002-05-21. http://www.discogs.com/Amon-Tobin-Slowly/release/29172. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  16. ^ "Stereolab's 'Jam' Session". NME. 21 June 2001. http://web.nme.com/news/stereolab/8265. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". London: The Observer. 7 December 2003. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,11710,1101525,00.html. Retrieved 13 January 2008. 
  18. ^ "Cook voted 'comedians' comedian'". BBC News. 2 January 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4141019.stm. Retrieved 23 June 2008. "Modern TV satirist Chris Morris was in 11th, followed by Tony Hancock, Bill Hicks, Peter Sellers and Steve Martin." 
  19. ^ "King's Speech reigns over Bafta awards". BBC News. 14 February 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-12432378. 
  20. ^ "Births England and Wales 1984-2006". Findmypast.com. http://www.findmypast.com/BirthsMarriagesDeaths.jsp. Retrieved 2010-08-20. 
  21. ^ "Cern podcast: Chris Morris visits the Large Hadron Collider". London: The Guardian. 30 June 2008. http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/audio/2008/jun/30/cern.chris.morris.podcast. Retrieved 20 May 2009. 

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