Chris Morris is a British comedy writer,
satirist and radio DJ. Both his parents were doctors.
He was educated at Stonyhurst College, a Roman Catholic
boys' boarding school in Lancashire, and then read
zoology at Bristol University.
On graduating, Morris took up a traineeship with
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, where he took advantage of
the free access to editing and recording equipment
to create elaborate spoofs and parodies. On leaving
Radio Cambridgeshire he worked at BBC Radio Bristol
and Greater London Radio (GLR). Both stations fired
him for on-air pranks, and for a time he was even banned
from entering the BBC site at Bristol after letting
off a helium canister during a live news broadcast..
In 1991 Morris largely gave up work as a mainstream
disc-jockey and devoted himself to comedy with his
radio project On the Hour. Working with Armando Iannucci,
Patrick Marber, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Steve
Coogan and others, he created a highly original spoof
news show which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
In 1994 a television series based on On the Hour
was broadcast under the name The Day Today. The Day
Today made a star of Morris, and also helped to launch
the careers of Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan. 1994
proved to be Morris's most critically successful year,
as he presented a BBC Radio 1 series similar in content
to, but sharper than, the Greater London Radio broadcasts,
and teamed up with comedy legend Peter Cook, as Sir
Arthur Streeb-Greebling, in a series of improvised
conversations for Radio Three, entitled Why Bother.
Morris followed this with Blue Jam, a late-night ambient
music and sketch show broadcast on Radio 1, which was
reworked for television as Channel 4's Jam.
The "sick comedy" which had bubbled under
in On the Hour and The Day Today found full release,
however, with Brass Eye, another spoof current affairs
television documentary show, this time shown on Channel
4. The station remit allowed for more shocking material,
and Morris took full advantage of this freedom, exploring
such taboos as infant mortality, incest, buggery, rape,
suicide and sadomasochism. In 2001 a reprise of Brass
Eye on the subject of paedophilia led to record numbers
of viewer complaints, and a great deal of hysterical
discussion in the press. Many complainants, some of
whom later admitted to not having seen the programme
(notably Estelle Morris, government minister), felt
the satire was directed at the victims of paedophilia,
which Morris denies. Most critics, however, felt that
the programme's target was actually media coverage
of the subject. It is interesting to note that the
government's criticism appeared at a period of a rather
severe worsening of the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis.
Morris has also covered other controversial subjects.
He once falsely claimed on the radio that Jimmy Savile
and Conservative MP Michael Heseltine had died; had
a show cancelled mid-broadcast when he played a scurrilous
cut-up of the Archbishop of Canterbury's funeral oration
for Diana, Princess of Wales; and performed a song
in the style of Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker about
notorious child-murderer Myra Hindley with the following
lyrics: "Every time I see your picture, Myra/I
have to phone my latest girlfriend up and fire her/And
find a prostitute who looks like you and hire her/Oh,
me oh Myra."
In 2002 Morris ventured into film with the short
My Wrongs 8245 - 8249 and 117, a version of a Blue
Jam sketch about a man looking after a sinister talking
dog. It was the first film project of Warp Films, a
branch of Warp Records. In 2003 this won the BAFTA
for best short film.
Morris' latest project is a sitcom entitled Nathan
Barley, based on the character created by Charlie Brooker
for his website TVGoHome. Co-written by Brooker and
Morris, the show's first episode was broadcast in February
A significant feature of Morris's output is his music.
He often composes and performs all incidental music
for his television shows, notably with Jam and the
'extended remix' version, Jaaaaam. His parodies of
musical performances (such as the Pulp spoof mentioned
above and an Eminem in the Paedophilia special) are
very accurate. This is due not only to his musical
ability, but also to his understanding of the way in
which the original artist created his music.
In 2003 he was listed in The Observer as one of the
50 funniest acts in British comedy. In 2004 Channel
4 aired a show called The Comedian's Comedian in which
foremost writers and performers of comedy ranked their
50 favourite acts. Chris Morris was at number eleven,
above many acclaimed comedians including Bill Hicks,
Peter Sellers and Eddie Izzard.
Morris is widely regarded as someone reluctant to
discuss his work, although he has given interviews,
albeit rarely. His output since 2001 has contained
little new material, consisting mainly of recycled
material (dating back to 1994) reconfigured in a "darker" style.