Roy Walker – Irish Comedian and Former ‘Catchphrase’ Presenter.
Roy Walker, well known to TV viewers through top ITV game show, Catchphrase, is regarded as one of the UK’s best comedians.
His lugubrious style of humour his dead-pan expression and his approach to entertaining, has paid handsome dividends. His casual line in patter has endeared him to audiences all over the country.
Roy Walker was born in Belfast and first became involved in entertainment at school where he sang in the choir and acted in the end-of-term plays. He also sang in the local church choir. It was as a boy soprano, at the age of fourteen, that he started out on the first steps to a career in showbusiness. After auditioning at the Belfast Opera House, Roy was invited to join the celebrated Francis Longford Choir, and for the next twelve months toured extensively, undertaking concert and theatre engagements all over the British Isles – including appearances at the London Palladium and on television.
“After a year my voice broke and I had to leave the choir. I returned home to Belfast and set about finding a job for myself,” he says. “I eventually worked in a shipyard as an apprentice riveter, but I spent much of my spare time entertaining on a semi-pro basis.”
Running parallel with his career in entertainment, however, Roy Walker showed exceptional talent on the athletics field. Aided by the coaching of Buster McShane, who guided Mary Peters to Olympic Gold, Roy became an outstanding prospect as a hammer-thrower. He was Northern Ireland Champion for two years and represented his country on many occasions internationally.
Following a short spell working as a partner to comedian James Young, Roy was summoned for national service and joined the army. He spent the next seven years in uniform, yet still found time to entertain regularly. When he eventually left the service, his sights were firmly set on a career in showbusiness.
It was a make or break time for the Belfast comedian, and at first the going was extremely tough as he tried to establish a name for himself in comedy. To supplement his income during the day, while he toured the clubs at night, Roy took any job he could find, and in rapid succession, he became a baker, a postman, milkman, Physical Training instructor, a clerk, bingo caller….and even washed dishes.
However, he was slowly building a reputation as a comedian, emerging as a very funny man in his own right and a firm favourite in clubland.
In 1977, Roy Walker broke through to success and national prominence when he recorded the highest marks ever given to a comedian on television’s New Faces. It was the start of a television career that has blossomed ever since, and has seen him starring on all the major TV variety shows including Live From Her Majesty’s, Blankety Blank, Des O’Connor Tonight, Bob Monkhouse Show, Tarby And Friends, Paul Daniels Show, The Laughter Show, Live From The Palladium, A Night Of A Hundred Stars, Les And Dustin’s Laughter Show, Laugh Attack, and The Russ Abbot Show, besides headlining such series as The Comedians and his own show, Licensed For Singing And Dancing. Roy has also guested on Wogan and hosted the TVS show, Summertime Special.
It was at the beginning of 1987 that he hosted his first series of Catchphrase which went on to become a very popular and high-rating addition to the ITV Network scheduling each year. More recently it has also been screened on Challenge TV.
His summer seasons have included the Bournemouth International Centre (1985 and 1991); ABC Theatre, Great Yarmouth (1986); Futurist Theatre, Scarborough (1988); and four seasons at The North Pier Theatre, Blackpool (1987/89/93 and 1995). He has also appeared extensively with Russ Abbot, Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones and toured the country with his live stage version of Catchphrase.
Pantomimes, have also played a big part in his career and he has consolidated his success with Christmas seasons in Dick Whittington at The Southport Theatre ( Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the Hippodrome, Bristol, Cinderella at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, Dick Whittington at the New Pavilion, Rhyl, and Cinderella at The Thameside Theatre, Ashton-under Lyne and The Grand Theatre, Blackpool.
In September 1998, while he was filming Catchphrase, Roy Walker was surprised by Michael Aspel – with the big red book – as a subject of This Is Your Life
Roy Walker has appeared in Channel 4’s hit TV series Phoenix Nights and presented a six part comedy series The Way We Tell ‘Em for BBC Radio, Northern Ireland.
He continues to headline concert, theatre and cabaret engagements throughout Britain and overseas.
Away from showbusiness, Roy’s interests are golf, horses, skiing and sailing.