Stephen Fry

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

:: Poet Home :: Poetry :: Short Stories :: Contact ::
Stephen Fry
Birth name Stephen John Fry
Born 24 August 1957 (1957-08-24) (age 49)
Flag of England London, England
Official site

Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English comedian, writer, actor, novelist, filmmaker and television personality. The former comedy collaborator of Hugh Laurie, his most recent success is the television panel game QI, of which he is host.


  • 1 Childhood and education
  • 2 Career
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Acclaim
  • 5 List of works
    • 5.1 Written works
    • 5.2 Performances
    • 5.3 Directorial filmography
  • 6 Trivia
  • 7 References
  • 8 See also
  • 9 External links

Childhood and education

Fry was born in Hampstead, London, the son of Alan Fry, a British scientist, and Marianne Neumann, an Austrian of Jewish descent.[1] He has an elder brother, Roger, and a younger sister, Joanna. He grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved to the countryside when very young.

Fry briefly attended Gresham's School, Holt, before going on to Stout's Hill Preparatory School, Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house. He was expelled from Uppingham when he was fourteen, 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 before going on to Queens' College, Cambridge.

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


Fry came to the attention of the public in the mid-1980s with appearances on Saturday Live alongside Hugh Laurie. Involvement in the programme led to his casting as Lord Melchett in Blackadder II, the 1986 series of the popular BBC sitcom co-written by Saturday Live host Ben Elton. His cameo as the Duke of Wellington in the following year's series, Blackadder the Third, led to the development of character General Melchett, with whom Fry would make a career-defining performance in the 1989 series Blackadder Goes Forth.

In 1987, whilst starring in Blackadder the Third, Fry made the first series of comedy sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie with his long-time comedy partner. Their elaborate and eclectic mix of word-play and innuendo was greatly successful, running for 26 episodes spanning four series. In 1988 Fry became a regular contestant on popular improvisational comedy programme Whose Line Is It Anyway?, as well as featuring in his own six-part BBC Radio 4 series, Saturday Night Fry.

Fry has often expressed great admiration for three authors in particular: Anthony Buckeridge, his friend Douglas Adams, and P.G. Wodehouse, all of whom have strongly influenced his writing. Appropriately, he has appeared in dramatic adaptations of all three men's works: as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie's Bertie Wooster) in the Granada adaptations of Wodehouse's novels and short stories entitled Jeeves and Wooster ; as the voice of The Guide in the film adaptation of Adams' novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; and as the narrator in a BBC radio reading of Buckeridge's Jennings stories. He has also been a fan of Oscar Wilde since he was 13, finding Wilde to be someone with whom he could "fiercely and proudly identify". Fry portrayed Wilde in the 1997 film Wilde, fulfilling to critical acclaim a role that he has said that he was "born to play".

Since the fourth and final series of A Bit of Fry and Laurie was broadcast in 1995, Fry has maintained an renowned comic reputation as an individual, particularly on comedy panel games such as Just a Minute, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue and Have I Got News for You (although he now refuses to appear on the latter in protest against the 2002 sacking of host Angus Deayton). QI, the panel game of which Fry himself is host, has become one of the most-watched entertainment programmes on British television.[3] In 2006 he won the Rose d'Or award for Best Game Show Host for his work on the series.[1]

In recent years many of Fry's projects have differed from those of his early comedy and acting career. 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, has closely associated Fry with poetry. In early 2006 he became the patron of Norfolk-based literature group Centre Poets, following the death of journalist John Timpson.[citation needed]

Fry's first foray as a film director was the 2003 release entitled Bright Young Things. In 2001 he had begun hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in 2006, noting that "it has been a tremendous six years, and I look forward to watching it without nerves in the future."[4] Later that same year he wrote the English libretto and dialogue for Kenneth Branagh's film adaption of The Magic Flute.

In television, Fry has most recently appeared in, and been executive producer for, a six-part legal drama entitled Kingdom. As well as this he has taken up a recurring guest role as a psychiatrist in the popular American drama, Bones. Following the transmission of his two-part documentary on bipolar disorder, Stephen Fry: Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, and of his appearance on the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, Fry has been involved in making further documentaries for the BBC. A programme on the subject of HIV and AIDS is due to air as part of BBC Two's autumn programming schedule, followed by a five-part series entitled Stephen Fry in America.[5]

Having recorded all seven stories currently in print, Fry is well-known in the United Kingdom as the voice of the Harry Potter series of audiobooks. He was one of just five people worldwide to know the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before it officially went on sale.[6] Besides Harry Potter he has recorded audio versions of works by Roald Dahl, Michael Bond, A. A. Milne and Douglas Adams, as well as several of his own books. He is also the narrator of award-winning animated programmes Pocoyo and The Transporters, the latter being part of an autism research initiative supported by the University of Cambridge.

In 2007, Fry interviewed Tony Blair (then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) as part of a series of podcasts available from the 10 Downing Street website.[7] They discussed British social and cultural changes since the general election of 1997, at which Blair's Labour Party was voted into government.

Personal life

Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and practised a celibate lifestyle for 16 years. He once jokingly commented, "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 later admitted in his autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, that he "borrowed" the line from a friend at university). Fry currently lives in London with his long-time partner, Daniel Cohen. He also has a second home in West Bilney near King's Lynn, Norfolk.

He met Cohen following his highly publicised nervous breakdown in 1995, which was attributed at the time to bad reviews of Fry's performance in Cell Mates, a West End play. Fry was also suffering from serious clinical depression at the time as a result of his as-yet undiagnosed cyclothymia,[8] a form of bipolar disorder. He subsequently walked out of the production, prompting its early closure and incurring the displeasure of his co-star, Rik Mayall, as well as the wrath of playwright Simon Gray. Fry subsequently was missing for several days, during which period he contemplated suicide. He abandoned the idea and fled from the United Kingdom by ferry, eventually resurfacing in Belgium.[9]

Fry has spoken publicly about the experience of living with a form of bipolar disorder and has made and presented a documentary about the condition and his personal experience thereof, Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive.[10] As part of 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 comedienne Jo Brand, who previously worked as a psychiatric nurse. The two-part series was broadcast on BBC Two in September 2006 and repeated in March 2007 as part of the BBC's programming in aid of Comic Relief.

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 respect to the Iraq War. Despite his praising of the current government for social reform with regard to homosexuality, 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,[11] and is godfather to all three of Hugh Laurie's children.

A great fan of cricket (he is related to legendary England cricketer and jack of all trades C.B. Fry), he was recently interviewed for the Ashes Fever DVD, reporting on England's victory against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series.


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,[12] was featured on The Culture Show, and was voted most intelligent man on television by readers of Radio Times. He was once described as a "man with a brain the size of Kent" in an interview with Michael Parkinson.[13]

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.[14] Later the same month he was announced as the 2007 BT Mind Champion of the Year[15] in recognition of the awareness raised by his documentary on bipolar disorder, and was nominated for Best Entertainment Performance (QI) and Best Factual Series (Secret Life of the Manic Depressive) at the 2007 British Academy Television Awards.

List of works

Written works

  • Films and screenplays
    • Bright Young Things (2003)
    • The Magic Flute (libretto, forthcoming[16])
  • Musicals
    • Me and My Girl (adapted Lupino Lane's script) (1983)
  • Novels
    • 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
  • Plays
    • 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.[17]
  • 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)


  • Films
    • A Fish Called Wanda (1988, cameo)
    • Peter's Friends (1992)
    • I.Q. (1994)
    • Wind in the Willows (1996)
    • Wilde (1997)
    • Spiceworld (1997)
    • A Civil Action (1998)
    • Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999)
    • Relative Values (2000), based on Noel Coward's play
    • Gormenghast (2000), based on Mervyn Peake's novel
    • 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 (2005) — The Guide (voice)
    • MirrorMask (2005)
    • A Cock and Bull Story (2006)
    • V for Vendetta (2006)
    • Stormbreaker (2006)
    • Valkyrie (2008)
  • Plays
    • 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
    • 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 (1988)
      • Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988)
      • Blackadder Goes Forth (1989)
      • 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
  • Audiobooks
    • 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
  • Miscellaneous
    • He also made a guest appearance in a special webcast version of Doctor Who in a story called Death Comes to Time, in which he plays a Time Lord, the Minister of Chance.

Directorial filmography

  • Films
    • Bright Young Things (director, 2003)


  • 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.[18] He served two consecutive terms (1992-1995 and 1995-1998) as the student-elected Rector of the University; 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, as well as an honorary fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge.
  • Fry was the last ever person awarded the title of Pipe Smoker of the Year before the award was discontinued for legal reasons.
  • Stephen is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre.
  • He drives a former London Taxi when driving in London.[19]
  • Fry is an avid Mac user, owning three iMac Core Duos, two Mac minis, two MacBook Pros, a dual-processor Power Mac G5, a PowerBook G4 and an iMac G5. He also claims to have bought one of the very first Apple Macintosh computers sold in the UK (the first was bought by Fry's friend Douglas Adams), in 1984.[17]
  • As related on QI, Fry is allergic to champagne, and is related to the polymath C.B. Fry.
  • In 2001, he appeared on Room 101: a show where guests are allowed to get rid of the things they hate the most. One of his nominations was Room 101 itself.
  • In 2002, 2004 and 2006, Fry appeared as guest host on the Sport Relief spin-off, They think it's a Question of Sport Relief
  • Fry was Liza Tarbuck's 'phone a friend' on celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. He provided the correct answer before being given the four options. However, on a subsequent show he was uncertain which city had hosted the first Formula One Grand Prix in China and suggested the wrong answer, which the player used.
  • When writing a book review for the Tatler he wrote under a disguised persona in what he describes as "typical cowardice". He became Williver Hendry, editor of A Most Peculiar Friendship: The Correspondence of Lord Alfred Douglas and Jack Dempsey, a topic close to Fry's heart as a renowned Wilde enthusiast.
  • Acclaimed Brazilian artist Zeca Baleiro cited Stephen Fry on the name of his first album, Por Onde Andará Stephen Fry? (Where Might Be Stephen Fry?) and on the title song, "Stephen Fry".
  • On December 14, 2006, Fry was found guilty of speeding at King's Lynn Magistrates Court. He lost his licence for 6 months and was fined £150.[20]
  • He was asked to write a script for the 2006 series of Doctor Who, but his episode was postponed until the 2007 series. However, Fry eventually ran out of time to finish the script, so it was cancelled. [21]
  • Fry is mentioned in the underground cult single "Thou Shalt Always Kill" by the duo Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip. The song — a list of commandments, many of which are tongue-in-cheek — features the advice "thou shalt not question Stephen Fry".
  • Fry has lent his voice to an alarm clock where he reprises his role of Jeeves to gently wake the owner.
  • When he played Mornington Crescent with a computer player in the 49th series of the BBC radio programme I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, the computer told him "We computers have always seen you as one of us."
  • Fry is a devoted fan of Vivian Stanshall, about whom he wrote a long tribute in his autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot. Fry appeared as Stanshall in the first few 2006 "reunion" gigs of the Bonzo Dog Band. Since Fry, other British comedians, including Ade Edmondson, have tried their hand at "being Vivian".
  1. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are?", British National Archives website.
  2. ^ University Challenge page at UK Game Shows.
  3. ^ QI Audience Statistics.
  4. ^ BBC: "Fry quits as host of film Baftas"
  5. ^ DigitalSpy: "Fry docs lead Iostar line-up"
  6. ^ Review of Series E, Episode 10 recording on QI Talk
  7. ^ Stephen Fry interviews Tony Blair.
  8. ^ BBC Health: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive
  9. ^ BBC News: Comedian Fry reveals suicide bid
  10. ^ Cardiff University: Genetic research into mood disorders
  11. ^
  12. ^ BBC: Living Icons
  13. ^ James, Derek (2007-04-21), "Stephen Fry: His Norfolk Kingdom", Norwich Evening News
  14. ^ Independent on Sunday Pink List 2007
  15. ^ Mind - Press Release
  16. ^ Branagh to make Mozart opera film
  17. ^ a b Douglas Adams Continuum Forum: webchat
  18. ^ Lip Theatre: History
  19. ^ BBC History: Who Do You Think You Are? Series 3 Celebrity Gallery
  20. ^ BBC News: Stephen Fry banned from driving
  21. ^ Digital Spy: Fry denies Doctor Who rumours

See also

  • Fry and Laurie
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie
  • Famous Fans of Norwich City F.C.
  • Stephen Fry at the Internet Movie Database
  • Persondata
    NAME Fry, Stephen John
    DATE OF BIRTH 1957-08-24
    PLACE OF BIRTH Hampstead, England, UK
    This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from a Wikipedia article. To access the original click here.
    Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
    under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
    or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
    with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
    A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU
    Free Documentation License".