Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry

Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, columnist, filmmaker and television personality. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster; famous also for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing for stage, screen, television and radio he has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and magazines, also having written four successful novels and an autobiography, Moab is My Washpot.

Childhood and education
Fry was born in Hampstead, London, the son of Alan Fry, an English physicist with a 1st class degree, and Marianne Newman, of Austrian-Jewish parentage.[1] He has an older brother, Roger, and a younger sister, Joanna. Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham when very young.

Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School, Cawston, Norfolk, described later in his 1999 book Moab is my Washpot[2] before going on to Stouts Hill Preparatory School, and then to Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house. He was expelled from Uppingham when he was fifteen, and subsequently from the Paston School. At seventeen, following his failure at Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend, and as a result spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison on grounds of fraud. Following his release he resumed education at Norwich City College, promising administrators that he would study rigorously to sit the Cambridge Entrance Exams. He passed well enough to gain a scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge.

At Cambridge, Fry gained a 2:1 in English literature, joined the Cambridge Footlights, and appeared on University Challenge.[3] As a member of the Footlights he also met his future comedy collaborator, Hugh Laurie.

[edit] Career

[edit] Television
Fry's career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue written by himself, Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. The revue caught the attention of Granada Television, who, keen to replicate the success of the BBC's Not The Nine O'Clock News, hired Fry, Laurie and Thompson to star alongside Ben Elton in There's Nothing To Worry About!. A second series, re-titled Alfresco, was broadcast in 1983; a third in 1984. Alfresco established Fry and Laurie's reputation as a comedy double act. In 1983 the BBC offered them their own show, which became The Crystal Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mock documentary that was axed after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry in Ben Elton's 1985 series, Happy Families.

Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned a sketch show in 1986 that was to become A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and 1995, and was greatly successful. At the same time Fry was starring in Blackadder II, as Lord Melchett, Blackadder the Third, as the Duke of Wellington, and notably in Blackadder Goes Forth, as General Melchett. In 1988 he became a regular contestant on the popular improvisational comedy programme Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Between 1990 and 1993, Fry starred as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie's Bertie Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster, 23, hour-long adaptations of P.G. Wodehouse's novels and short stories.

In 2001 he began hosting QI, an intellectual panel game that has become one of the most-watched entertainment programmes on British television.[4] In 2006 he won the Rose d'Or award for Best Game Show Host for his work on the series.[5]

A recent foray into documentary-making has seen Fry fronting The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, an emmy award winning 2006 programme about bipolar disorder (from which he suffers), and this year a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me. He is currently filming a six-part travel series entitled Stephen Fry in America.[6] In 2006 he appeared on the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his family tree to discover his Slovakian Jewish ancestry.

This year Fry appeared in, and was executive producer for, a six-part legal drama entitled Kingdom, a second series of which is currently in production. He has also taken up a recurring guest role as a psychiatrist in the popular American drama, Bones.

[edit] Film
Having made his film debut in the 1988 movie A Fish Called Wanda, Fry appeared in the lead role for Kenneth Branagh's Peter's Friends in 1992. Portraying Oscar Wilde (a man of whom he had been a fan since 13) in the 1997 film Wilde, he fulfilled to critical acclaim a role that he has said he was "born to play". In 2001 he played the detective in Robert Altman's period costume drama, Gosford Park.

In 2003, Fry made his directorial debut with Bright Young Things, adapted himself from Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. In 2001 he had begun hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in 2006.[7] Later that same year he wrote the English libretto and dialogue for Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of The Magic Flute.

Fry continues to make regular film appearances.[8]

[edit] Radio
Fry became famous to radio listeners with the creation of his supposed alter-ego - Donald Trefusis - whose "wireless essays" were broadcast on the Radio 4 programme Loose Ends. In 1988 Fry wrote and presented a renowned six-part comedy series entitled Saturday Night Fry, following which frequent radio appearances have ensued (notably on radio panel games Just a Minute and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue). In 2000 he began starring as Charles Prentiss in the Radio 4 comedy Absolute Power, reprising the role for three further series on radio and two on television.

This year he has hosted Current Puns, an exploration into wordplay, and Radio 4: This Is Your Life, to celebrate the radio station's 40th anniversary. He has also interviewed Tony Blair as part of a series of podcasts released by 10 Downing Street.[9]

[edit] Theatre
Fry wrote a play - Latin! (or Tobacco and Boys) - for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival, at which it won the "Fringe First" prize. The Cellar Tapes, the Footlights Revue of the following year, won the Perrier Comedy Award. In 1984 Fry adapted the hugely successful 1930s musical Me and My Girl for the West End, where it ran for eight years. He also famously starred in Simon Gray's 1995 play Cell Mates, from which he left three days into the West End run, pleading stage fright. He later recalled the incident as a hypomanic episode in his documentary on bipolar disorder. This year Fry has written the Old Vic Christmas pantomime, Cinderella.[10]

[edit] Literature
Since the publication of his first novel, The Liar, Fry has written three further novels, several non-fiction works and an autobiography, all of which have been much acclaimed by critics. His most recent book, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking The Poet Within, is a guide to writing poetry. In the United Kingdom he is a well-known narrator of audiobooks, notably the Harry Potter series. He has recorded audio versions of works by Roald Dahl, Michael Bond, A. A. Milne, Anthony Buckeridge and Douglas Adams, as well as several of his own books.

When writing a book review for the Tatler, Fry wrote under an alias, Williver Hendry, editor of A Most Peculiar Friendship: The Correspondence of Lord Alfred Douglas and Jack Dempsey, a field close to Fry's heart as an Oscar Wilde enthusiast. Once a columnist in The Listener and The Daily Telegraph, he now writes a weekly technology column in the Saturday Guardian. His blog attracted over 300,000 visitors in its first two weeks of its existence.[11]

[edit] Personal life
Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and was celibate for 16 years. When asked about when he knew he was homosexual he quotes an old friend and says, "I suppose it all began when I came out of the womb. I looked back up at my mother and thought to myself, 'That's the last time I'm going up one of those'". Fry currently lives in London with his partner, Daniel Cohen, whom he met in 1995. There Fry famously drives a former 1988 London black cab. He also has a second home in West Bilney, near King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Fry suffered a nervous breakdown in 1995, during a time in which he was appearing in Cell Mates, a West End play. Fry was also suffering from clinical depression and cyclothymia,[12] a form of bipolar disorder. He subsequently walked out of the production, prompting its early closure and incurring the displeasure of co-star Rik Mayall and playwright Simon Gray. Fry went missing for several days while contemplating suicide. He abandoned the idea and left the United Kingdom by ferry, eventually resurfacing in Belgium.[13]

Fry has spoken publicly about his experience with bipolar disorder and has presented his documentary about it, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive.[14] In the documentary he interviewed sufferers of the illness including celebrities Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, and Tony Slattery. Also interviewed were chef Rick Stein, whose father committed suicide, Robbie Williams, who talks of his experience with unipolar depression, and comedian Jo Brand. The two-part series was broadcast on BBC Two in September 2006, repeated in March 2007 as part of the BBC's programming in aid of Comic Relief, and repeated in August 2007 as a celebration of Fry's 50th birthday.

Fry was an active supporter of the British Labour Party for many years, and appeared in a party political broadcast on its behalf with Hugh Laurie and Michelle Collins in November 1993. Despite this, he did not vote in the 2005 General Election because of the stance of both the Labour and Conservative parties with regard to the Iraq War. Despite his praising of the current government for social reform, Fry has been critical of the Labour Party's "Third Way" concept. He is on cordial terms with Prince Charles (despite satirising him heavily as King Charles I in the comedy programme Blackadder: The Cavalier Years), through his work with the Prince's Trust. He attended the wedding of the Prince of Wales to Camilla Parker-Bowles in 2005.

Fry is a friend of British comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson and was best man at Atkinson's wedding to Sunetra Sastry at the Russian Tea Room in New York City. He was also a friend of British actor John Mills.[15] He was best man at the wedding of Hugh Laurie and is godfather to all three of Laurie's children.

A great fan of cricket (he is related to legendary England cricketer and jack of all trades C.B. Fry[citation needed]), he was recently interviewed for the Ashes Fever DVD, reporting on England's victory against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. In football he is a supporter of Norwich City (as mentioned in Ashes Fever).

[edit] Acclaim
In 1995, Fry was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Dundee, which named their main Students' Association bar after one of his novels (The Liar Bar). Fry is patron of its Lip Theatre Company.[16] He served two consecutive terms (1992-1995 and 1995-1998) as the student-elected Rector of the University (only the second Rector of the University to be elected twice, the first being Clement Freud); coincidentally, this post is currently held by his secondary school classmate, controversial former diplomat Craig Murray.
In 2005, Fry was made honorary president of the Cambridge University Quiz Society and honorary fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge.
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, Fry was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and business insiders, and, in September 2006, number 9 in a poll of TV's Greatest Stars as voted for by the general public.
In December 2006 he was ranked 6th for the BBC's Top Living Icon Award,[17] was featured on The Culture Show, and was voted most intelligent man on television by readers of Radio Times.
23rd on the previous year's list, the Independent on Sunday Pink List named Fry the second most influential gay person in Britain in May 2007.[18]
Later the same month he was announced as the 2007 BT Mind Champion of the Year[19] in recognition of the awareness raised by his documentary on bipolar disorder, and was also nominated for Best Entertainment Performance (QI) and Best Factual Series (Secret Life of the Manic Depressive) at the 2007 British Academy Television Awards.
BBC Four dedicated two nights of programming to Fry on 17th and 18th August 2007, in celebration of his 50th birthday. The first night, comprising programmes featuring Fry, began with a 60-minute documentary entitled Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out. The second night was composed of programmes selected by Fry, as well as a 60-minute interview with Mark Lawson and half-hour special, Stephen Fry: Guilty Pleasures. Stephen Fry Weekend proved such a ratings hit for BBC Four that it was repeated on BBC Two for 16th and 17th September.
Fry was the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year before the award was discontinued for legal reasons.
He is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre and a Vice President of the Noël Coward Society.[20]

[edit] List of works

[edit] Written works
Films and screenplays
Bright Young Things (2003)
The Magic Flute (libretto, forthcoming[21])
Dambusters (2008)
Me and My Girl (adapted Lupino Lane's script) (1984)
The Liar (1992) (in which Donald Trefusis is a character)
The Hippopotamus (1994)
Making History (an example of alternate history) (1997) Winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History
The Stars' Tennis Balls (as Revenge: A Novel in the United States) (Fry's take on The Count of Monte Cristo story (2000))
Other books
Paperweight (collection of articles) (1992), including, among others, some of the "wireless essays" supposedly by professor Donald Trefusis.
Moab is My Washpot (autobiography) (1997)
Rescuing the Spectacled Bear: A Peruvian Diary (2002)
Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music (2004)
The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within (2005)
QI: The Book of General Ignorance (2006) ISBN 0-571-23368-6 drawn from his BBC QI comedy quiz programme
Latin! (or Tobacco and Boys.) (1979, included in Paperweight). Winner of the Fringe First at the 1980 Edinburgh Festival.
A pantomime version of Cinderella slated to open at the Old Vic for Christmas 2007.[22]
Published television scripts
A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1990)
A Bit More Fry & Laurie (1991)
3 Bits of Fry & Laurie (1992)
Fry & Laurie Bit No. 4 (1995)

[edit] Performances
A Fish Called Wanda (1988, cameo)
Peter's Friends (1992)
IQ (1994)
Wind in the Willows (1996)
Wilde (1997)
Spiceworld (1997)
A Civil Action (1998)
Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999)
Relative Values (2000)
Gosford Park (2001)
The Discovery of Heaven (2001)
Thunderpants (2002)
Le Divorce (2003)
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (voice) (2005)
MirrorMask (2005)
A Cock and Bull Story (2006)
V for Vendetta (2006)
Stormbreaker (2006)
Valkyrie (2008)
The Common Pursuit (1988)
Cell Mates, (1995)
Radio shows
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Quandary Phase: Murray Bost Henson, BBC Radio 4
Saturday Night Fry (1988, BBC Radio 4, six episodes)
A Bit of Fry and Laurie (1994, BBC Radio Four, two half-hour programmes compiled from selected previously-seen sketches from the TV series)
Absolute Power, BBC Radio Four
Occasional guest panellist on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, BBC Radio Four
Regular guest panellist on Just a Minute, BBC Radio Four
Has a regular slot, The Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music on Classic FM
Played the lead, David Lander on Radio 4 series Delve Special
A series of "wireless essays", supposedly by his alter ego, the elderly Cambridge philology professor Donald Trefusis, were featured in the BBC Radio 4 programme Loose Ends, hosted by Ned Sherrin
Fry contributed regular parodies of BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat to the same station's arts programme Studio B15
Television programmes
The Crystal Cube (one-off BBC2 sketch show) (1983)
Alfresco (1983?84)
The Young Ones (1984)
Happy Families (TV Series) (1985)
Filthy Rich & Catflap (1986)
The Blackadder Series: Blackadder II (1986), Blackadder the Third (1987), Blackadder: The Cavalier Years and Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988), Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), and Blackadder: Back & Forth (1999)
Whose Line Is It Anyway? (1988, 1997)
A Bit of Fry and Laurie (1987 pilot, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1995)
This is David Lander (1988)
The New Statesman (1989)
Jeeves and Wooster (1990?1993)
Common Pursuit (1992)
The Thin Blue Line (1995)
Cold Comfort Farm (1995)
In the Red (1998)
Watership Down (1999)
Gormenghast (2000)
QI (2003-onwards)
A Bear Named Winnie (2004)
Absolute Power (2003, 2005)
Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005)
Pocoyo (2005) - an animated children's television programme, which he narrated
Extras (2006)
The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2006)
Bones (2007)
Kingdom (2007)
Shrink Rap (2007) - a quasi-therapeutic interview conducted by Pamela Stephenson
Stephen Fry: HIV and Me (2007)
Moab is My Washpot (1997) ISBN 1-85686-268-2
The Hippopotamus (2000) ISBN 1-84197-129-4
Harry Potter series, UK versions (2002-2007)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) ISBN 1-4050-5397-6
Higher Ground Project (2005) ISBN 1-84458-643-X
The Ode Less Travelled (2006) ISBN 1-85686-842-7
Montmorency (2004) ISBN 978-1844400256
Guest appearance in a webcast of Doctor Who called Death Comes to Time, as Time Lord, the Minister of Chance
Introduced the television show Wildlife SOS
Stephen is the voice of the Christmas 2007 adverts for Argos
Stephen is the character in the Twinings Earl Grey tea adverts on British TV

[edit] Directorial filmography
Bright Young Things (director, 2003)

[edit] References
^ "Who Do You Think You Are?", British National Archives website.
^ Cawston Parish in Norfolk
^ University Challenge page at UK Game Shows.
^ QI Audience Statistics.
^ IMDB: Stephen Fry ? Awards
^ - Blog Entry - I Give Up.
^ BBC: "Fry quits as host of film Baftas"
^ IMDB: Stephen Fry.
^ Stephen Fry interviews Tony Blair.
^ Old Vic Theatre - Cinderella.
^ - Blog Entry - I Give Up.
^ BBC Health: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive
^ BBC News: Comedian Fry reveals suicide bid
^ Cardiff University: Genetic research into mood disorders
^ Lip Theatre: History
^ BBC: Living Icons
^ Independent on Sunday Pink List 2007
^ Mind - Press Release
^ Branagh to make Mozart opera film
^ Douglas Adams Continuum Forum: webchat

[edit] See also
Fry and Laurie
A Bit of Fry and Laurie

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