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Chris Morris

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Denholm declares war
Chris Morris
Biographical information
Born

June 15, 1962

Nationality

English

Current nation of residence

Brixton, England

Gender

Male

Eye colour

Brown

Hair colour

Black

Height

6' 4" (1.93 m)

Career
Years Active

1986–present

In The IT Crowd

Portrayer of Denholm Reynholm

Notable Roles
  • Various characters and writer of The Day Today
  • Denholm Reynholm in The IT Crowd
  • Various characters in Brass Eye

Christopher "Chris" Morris (b. June 15, 1962) is an English actor, comedian, comedy writer, satirist and former DJ, best known for his appearances in Brass Eye, The Day Today and The IT Crowd. Morris found fame in radio before television, and it was only after his spoof-current affairs shows such as Brass Eye and The Day Today, where he became known for his intelligent yet often highly-controversial brand of comedy. Morris has described himself as extremely shy and has remained out of the public eye in recent years, and has become one of the more enigmatic figures in British comedy.

In 2003, Morris was listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy history. In 2005, on a Channel 4 show called The Comedian's Comedian in which foremost writers and performers of comedy ranked their 50 favourite acts, Morris was ranked at #11.

BiographyEdit

Early lifeEdit

Morris was born on June 15, 1962, in Bristol, England, however, he was brought up in Cambridgeshire. He is the eldest son of two GPs. He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a controversial Jesuit school in Lancashire, and went on to study zooloogy at the University of Bristol.

In critical reviews of Morris' satirical programme Brass Eye, the tabloids blamed Morris' standard of education for their critical reviews, as Stonyhurst was a famously strict school which thrown into controversy after allegations of a scandal centred around allegations of child abuse. The tabloids continued to blame Stoynhurst, and reported that pupils were beaten with a whale-bone strap, and then gloated over the fact that Morris apparently refused to take part in the police investigation into the abuse allegations. Morris has seldom made comments about his childhood, however, he has said it wasn't 'run through the hills naked strict' and that the reports of his education were exaggerated.

Radio careerEdit

Morris completed his course at the University of Bristol and after graduating, Morris took up an internship with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, where he took advantage of his access to the editing rooms and created his own spoofs and parodies. Morris then presented a 2 - 4pm mid-afternoon radio show in early 1987 before moving on to presenting Saturday morning show I.T.. Morris began earning recognition for his work and moved on to BBC Radio Bristol to present his own show, No Known Cure. He later joined 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. He was fired from his job at GLR after he presented a segment called Kiddies Outing in which he asked a child to 'out' a celebrity as homosexual.

In 1991, Morris moved away from his career as a mainstream DJ and began focusing on his comedy career with his new radio show, On the Hour. Morris worked with fellow comedians Armando Iannucci, Patrick Marber, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Steve Coogan among others to create a parody news programme on BBC Radio 4. The show consisted of a mixture of fake news reports, weather reports, vox pops and prank calls to celebrities. For his work on On the Hour, he recieved a British Comedy Award in 1992. However, the controversial pranks on his show bewildered the BBC officials and his show on Boxing Day, 1991, was his last.

In the same year, Morris joined forces with Peter Cook as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling in a series of improvised conversations on BBD Radio 4 in a show called Why Brother? This was followed by a late-night ambient music and sketch show on Radio 1 entitled Blue Jam, which was later adapted for television by Channel 4 and renamed Jam. Morris was also involved with the studio/sound help for Flight of the Concords 6-part radio series.

Television and film careerEdit

In 1994, The Day Today, a show based on On the Hour, was commisioned by Channel 4. The Day Today cast Morris into the limelight and also made famous Steve Coogan and Patrick Marber, who both went on to star in Knowing Me, Knowing You ... with Alan Partridge.

The success of The Day Today and On the Hour led to the commision of Brass Eye in 1997, another spoof news show, in which Morris attempted to persuade politicians and public figures into giving support for fictional charities (such as a drug called cake and an elephant with its trunk up its anus). In 2001, the show returned for a one-off special. The episode focused on the moral panic surrounding peadophillia. The show is famed for being the third most complained about show in Channel 4's history, behind Celebrity Big Brother 2007 and Jerry Springer - The Opera. Many of the complaints 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 paedophilia itself.

Despite this controversy, Morris went on the write and direct Jam, which was an adapted version of his radio show Blue Jam. The show was a noticably darker version of its radio version, focusing on subjects such as infant mortality, incest, anal sex, rape, suicide and sadomasochism in a series of dream-like sketches with a soundtrack of ambient music. This was followed by a 'remix' version, Jaaaaam.

Morris then ventured into the genre of film, and directed the 2002 short film My Wrongs 8245–8249 & 117, adapted from a Blue Jam monologue about a man led astray by a sinister talking dog. This film won a BAFTA for Best Short Film. Morris also co-wrote the sitcom Nathan Barley with Charlie Brooker in 2005. Based on a character created by Brooker for his website TVGoHome, the show was commisioned by Channel 4 and ran for one series. Coincidentally, the show starred Morris' future The IT Crowd co-stars, Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding.

In 2006, Morris was asked to audition for the part of the eccentric and energetic Head of Reynholm Industries, Denholm Reynholm, in The IT Crowd written by Graham Linehan, with whom Morris collaborated on The Day Today, Brass Eye and Jam. Morris landed the role and starred in the first series and one episode of the second series, in which the character had to be killed off due to Morris' unavailablility because of his work on other shows. However, Morris found the time to briefly return in a scene in the first episode of the third series, From Hell.

In November 2007, Morris wrote an article for The Observer in response to an article written by Ronan Bennet in The Guardian criticising the Martin Amis of racism. The article, entitled The Absurd World of Martin Amis, also criticised Amis of racism and compared him to Muslim cleric and preacher of violence Abu Hamza, who was charged of inciting racial hatred in 2006.

Morris was also involved in the 2009 comedy series Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle in which he served as script editor, working with actor Kevin Eldon and former colleagues Stewart Lee and Armando Iannucci.

Morris completed his debut feature film, Four Lions, in late 2009 and was shown in January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival. The jihad satire film was shortlisted for the World Cinema Narrative prize and was also picked up by movie channel Film Four. Morris told The Sunday Times that the film, based on a group of Islamist terrorists in the North of England, will do for Islamic terrorism what Dad's Army did for the Nazi Party by showing them as 'scary but ridiculous'.

Music careerEdit

Morris has also written and performs music for various TV shows, most noticeably his own shows Jam and its remixed verison Jaaaaam. Morris also worked on British band Saint Etienne's 1993 single "You're in a Bad Way". In 2000, he created the track "Bad Sex", which was released as a B-side on the Tobin single "Slowly". The British band Stereolab's song from their 2001 album Sound-Dust featured lines from various Chris Morris sketches as lyrics. Morris has also been sampled by The Orb.

Personal lifeEdit

Morris is famous for his private personal life and his reluctance to do interviews. Morris lives in Brixton, England, with his partner and literary agent, Jo Unwin, with his two sons, both born in Lambeth, London: Charles Peter (born 1996) and Frederick Rudolf (born 1999). Morris can also be heard as himself on the podcast for CERN.


Morris' brother, Tom Morris, is the National Theatre associate director and is son to television director Ben Morris.

Filmography Edit

Year Title Type Role
1990 Freedback Report Comedy Interviewer
1994-2004 The Day Today Comedy
  • Various roles
  • Writer
1995 Fist of Fun Comedy Composer
1997 I'm Alan Partridge Comedy Watership Alan
Brass Eye Comedy
  • Various roles
  • Writer
1998 Big Train Comedy
  • Provided additional material
  • Narrator of Jockey Doco
2000 Jam Comedy
  • Writer
  • Director
  • Various roles
2001 Brass Eye Special Film
  • Various roles
  • Writer
2002 My Wrongs 8245–8249 & 117 Short film
  • Rothko (voice)
  • Writer
2005 The Comedian's Comedian Documentary Himself
2006-2007 The IT Crowd Sitcom Denholm Reynholm
2006 Second Class Male Comedy short Writer
2007 The Comedy Map of Britain Documentray Himself
The Funny Side of the News Documentary Himself
2008 The Comedy Map of Britain Documentray Himself
2009 Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle Comedy Script editor
2010 Calendar News programme Himself
Look North News programme Himself
Four Lions Film
  • Writer
  • Director

Behind the scenesEdit

  • Morris' role as Denholm Reynholm in The IT Crowd marks the first time he has played a character in a show that had not been written by himself.
  • Chris Morris has been fired from many jobs due to the many pranks he has pulled during his radio career, including filling one of the radio booths with helium, causing the newsreader to report the news in an extremely high-pitched voice.

External linksEdit

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