His sense of style might be terminally challenged and he usually looks like he needs a jolly good haircut but Rory McGrath has one of the quickest wits in the business. How has he earned his place as one of Britain's favourite Wise Guys?
Rory was brought up in Cornwall and studied at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was firmly bitten by the showbiz bug. Like scores of today's top comedy performers, he was a member of the famous Footlights dramatic club, writing and starring in several revues during the late 1970s. His co-conspirators at this prestigious finishing school for comics included Douglas Adams, Griff Rhys Jones, Jimmy Mulville and Clive Anderson.
The contacts and experience Rory gained during his Footlights years stood him in good stead. By the early 1980s, Rory was writing for his old mate Griff Rhys Jones's show, Alas Smith and Jones. It wasn't long before Rory got work in front of the camera, too. In 1983, he starred alongside Jimmy Mulville and Philip Pope in Who Dares, Wins... a satirical sketch show on Britain's new "alternative" TV station, Channel 4. The trio stayed together for a critically acclaimed comedy series set in Roman Britain, Chelmsford 123. Rory's trademark scruffy hair and beard made him the obvious choice for the part of Badvoc, a sour-tempered, rabble-rousing Celt.
Rory's best-known for his long-running stint as a regular panellist on They Think It's All Over. The anything-goes antics and scatter-gun gags don't always have much to do with sport but, hey, who cares? What we want is knockabout fun with a bit of sporting knowledge thrown in. Rory delivers on all counts, even though he once confessed that he was a strange choice for the job: "I hate cricket, I hate golf, I can't stand athletics and I don't like tennis. I support Arsenal, although I'm debating whether that qualifies as football or not." The show sails pretty close to the wind at times. He landed in hot water with the BBC's complaints unit after a long series of gags lampooning David and Victoria Beckham. The infamous Feel the Sportsman round is always good for a laugh but it does have its dangers, too. Rory was biffed by a female boxer after his blindfolded attempts to discover her identity proved to be a little over-enthusiastic.
Although he's best known as a comedian, Rory has a serious side too. He has presented the Channel 4 viewers' forum, Right to Reply, and fronted The Holiday Show. He's fascinated by history - the gorier the better - and jumped at the chance to present Bloody Britain, a series examining the darker side of this country's past. More recently, Rory has been entertaining us on Grumpy Old Men, venting his spleen about a world gone mad. Well, mad according to him, anyway.
Did you know?
Rory once described Arsenal superstar Dennis Bergkamp as the greatest love of his life. He was joking. We think. He can't stand coachloads of elderly people wearing beige. Ringtones mystify him. Rory has played in a spoof country and western band, Death By Country. He has admitted that he cheats on They Think It's All Over. We wouldn't have it any other way, Rory. He's one of the highest scoring contestants ever to appear on QI. He received a 100 point bonus for knowing that chickens are the most common bird in the world. He also knew that calcium is the most common metal in the human body. Alright, clever clogs.