June 15, 1962
|Current nation of residence||
6' 4" (1.93 m)
|In The IT Crowd||
Portrayer of Denholm Reynholm
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.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
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 zoology 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 career[edit | edit source]
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 received 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 career[edit | edit source]
In 1994, The Day Today, a show based on On the Hour, was commisioned by the BBC. 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 also for the BBC.
The success of The Day Today and On the Hour led to Channel 4 comissioning 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 pedophilia. 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 pedophilia, which Morris denies. Channel 4 defended the show, insisting the target was the media and its hysterical treatment of pedophilia, and not victims of pedophilia 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 noticeably 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 commissioned 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' unavailability 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 with 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 career[edit | edit source]
Morris has also written and performs music for various TV shows, most noticeably his own shows Jam and its remixed version 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 life[edit | edit source]
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 | edit source]
|1994-2004||The Day Today||Comedy||
|1995||Fist of Fun||Comedy||Composer|
|1997||I'm Alan Partridge||Comedy||Watership Alan|
|2001||Brass Eye Special||Film||
|2002||My Wrongs 8245–8249 & 117||Short film||
|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||Documentary||Himself|
|The Funny Side of the News||Documentary||Himself|
|2008||The Comedy Map of Britain||Documentary||Himself|
|2009||Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle||Comedy||Script editor|
|Look North||News programme||Himself|
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- 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.