From tank hero of the war to advertsing and Formula 1
DURING the Second Wolr War Murray Walker was conscripted into the armed forces and applied to volunteer for tanks.
However, he was required to wait due to lack of resources at the time. So Walker worked with the Dunlop Rubber Company, which offered 12 scholarships annually and was based at Fort Dunlop, in Birmingham.
As part of the evacuation scheme imposed by the British Government, Walker was evacuated to Erdington, living with the Bellamy family at 58 Holly Lane.
On 1 October 1942 he took a train to Wool in Dorset, where he reported to the 30th Primary Training Wing at Bovington, the headquarters of the Royal Armoured Corps.
Walker later graduated from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and was commissioned into the Royal Scots Greys.
He went on to command a Sherman tank and to participate in the Battle of the Reichswald with the 4th Armoured Brigade. He left the Army having attained the rank of captain.
Walker then worked in advertising for Dunlop and Aspro. Later he was employed as an accounts director by the Masius advertising agency, with clients including British Rail, Vauxhall and Mars, for whom they created the slogan “A Mars a day helps you work rest and play”.
He did not retire from advertsing until the age of 59, long after he had gained fame as a commentator. He also briefly competed in motorcycle races himself.
Walker created the slogan “Trill makes budgies bounce with health” – a famous advertising slogan for bird seed in the 1960s – as well as the slogan “Opal Fruits, made to make your mouth water.”
Walker made his first broadcast at Worcestershire’s Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in 1948.
By 1949 he was commentating on races alongside Max Robertson, although it wasn’t until the late 1970s that each Formula 1 race was given extensive coverage on British television.
He did occasional Formula 1 commentaries during the 1970s, going full-time for the 1978 season. He commentated on Formula 1 through to the 2001 United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
His first regular work was on radio coverage of the Isle of Man TT, initially alongside his father. After Graham’s death in 1962, Murray took over the lead role.
He covered motocross (initially for ITV and BBC) during the 1960s and rallycross in the 1970s and early 1980s.
He occasionally commentated on motorcycle racing and rallying during the 1960s through to the 1980s. Walker covered the BTCC for the BBC between 1969 and 1971 and also 1988 and 1997, and the Macau event for Hong Kong TV on nine occasions.