As well as being born to a military man, Al's the great-great-great-grandson of that most quintessential Englishman of letters, William Makepeace Thackeray. His grandfather was also a posh diplomat, Sir Ralph Murray. So, while Al's so English that he'd bleed gravy if you cut him, he's also as posh as those nice crisps you get in upmarket boozers – you know, the ones with the weird flavours like gammon and honey.
Al's first brush with comedy came at Oxford, where he studied history while proving once and for all that you can be a smartypants and still resist the temptation to become a focaccia-eating bore. A certain Stewart Lee directed Al in the Oxford Revue, and his time there spurred him on to a career in stand up, touring with Frank Skinner and Harry Hill. His show originally consisted of him making a range of amusing sound effects including guns, animals and erm, a car boot. Still, he must have been doing something right, as he bagged himself a Perrier Award the fifth time he was nominated. (Not that the Pub Landlord would drink Perrier, mind. Sadly, the Campaign for Real Ale have yet to sponser a comedy award.)
In the early days Al's routine may have been more vocal tricks than peanuts and darts, but he soon graduated from his Police Academy-style sound effects into the beer-and-wisdom-dispensing star we know today. Al's nailed the persona, and from distrusting the French to having a soft spot for the power ballads of Queen, Al's landlord is the sort of man whose snug we'd like to settle into. In a strictly firm-handshake, mine's a pint of ale sense, of course. Yes, Al Murray's Pub Landlord, whose favourite colours are red, white and blue (but only arranged in crosses – none of that American or French striped rubbish) is a true icon of our times, whether he's doling out fruit-based drinks for the ladies or pints for the fellas. In fact, we like him so much, we gave him pride of place on Dave, hosting Al Murray's Compete for the Meat, in which Al forces – er, encourages – an array of numpties to compete for meat prizes. And if there's something the great British public needs in our credit-clobbered times, it's meat prizes. We're one step away from rationing, after all. It's only right that Al's on hand to inject a bit of Blitz spirit into proceedings.
It's not just about lager and comedy with Al, though. Al also plays drums in a metal covers band called T-34 who are pretty awesome – just as long as you don't expect them to do a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody anytime soon. Al's even had his own brand of crisps, 'Steak and Al Pie' which, until they finally get around to releasing a Roast Bulldog variety, is about as British as a crisp flavour can get.
But, side projects aside, comedy is what Al's all about. Whether bringing the house down with his stand up act, or taking to the small screen to dispense chat as well as lager tops, the Pub Landlord is the sole voice of reason in a world of bureaucracy, Brussels and women drivers. His face should be minted onto our currency and his catchphrases woven into our beautiful national anthem, but it'll never happen while those boys in France are dictating to us how many litres of surrender we have to put on our baguettes...