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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day


Chic Murray

By Gordon Irving

Chic and Maidie Like several other Scottish comedians, Chic Murray (1919-1985) began his working life far from theatre lights as an apprentice in engineering at Kincaid's shipyard in Greenock. He was born Charles Thomas McKinnon Murray in Greenock on 6 November 1919, the only child of a railway foreman badly gassed at the Battle of the Somme and a mother who loved books.

His innovative flair for musical performance erupted in amateur groups such as "The Whinhillbillies" and "Chic and his Chicks". A pretty little accordion playing girl, Maidie Dickson, arrived from Edinburgh to play the Empire Theatre, Greenock, and it was the start of a marriage and the distinctive comedy twosome, Chic and Maidie, "the tall droll with the small doll", in which Chic's madcap asides and surrealistic humour, interrupting Maidie's music, launched an offbeat comedy act that went on to stardom at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London's West-End in the mid-1950s. Latterly Maidie retired and Chic became a solo act.

Murray, an icon for students of comedy, registered with asides like: "I got up this morning. I like to get up in the morning; it gives me the rest of the day to myself!". He also played straight roles as a school head in Gregory's Girl (1980) and as Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankley in an extended run You'll Never Walk Alone at the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (1984). He died on 28 March 1985 and, like some other comedy actors, has been more impersonated and honoured since his death than in his lifetime.

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