Formula 1 broadcasting legend Murray Walker dies aged 97

Legendary former Formula One commentator Murray Walker has died. He was 97.

Walker commentated on his first grand prix race for the BBC at Silverstone in 1949 and became a full-time F1 commentator in 1978.

His voice provided the backing track to some of F1's most iconic moments, from James Hunt's 1976 championship win over Niki Lauda, to Nigel Mansell's 1992 title triumph.

A statement from the British Racing Drivers' Club said: "It's with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE."

"A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation's favourite commentator and a contagious smile.

"We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. RIP our friend," it added.

About Murray Walker

Walker was born in Birmingham, England in October 1923. His family is of Scottish descent. His father Graham Walker was a despatch rider and works motorcyclist for the Norton Motorcycle Company, who participated in the Isle of Man TT. His mother, Elsie Spratt, was the daughter of Harry Spratt, a businessman from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

He 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 made his first public broadcast at Shelsley Walsh hillclimb in 1948.He was given a recorded audition for the BBC at the 1949 Easter Monday Goodwood race. Walker later commentated on races alongside the tennis commentator Max Robertson, with his first radio broadcasting coming at the 1949 British Grand Prix for the BBC. He did occasional Formula 1 commentaries during the 1970s before going full-time for the 1978 season.

He was appointed an OBE in 1996 for services to broadcasting and motor sports. In November 1997, Walker was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Bournemouth University. He was later honoured, in July 2005, with an honorary doctorate from the Middlesex University, London.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1997 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel during a promotional video launch at the Sports Cafe in London's Lower Regent Street. Walker was named the winner of the Gregor Grant Award from the motor racing magazine Autosport in 1993. In 2000, he won the Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award and was named the recipient of the BAFTA Special Award for Contribution to Television in 2002.

Walker became a freelance website columnist for the BBC's recovered coverage of Formula One in 2009.

In 2015 it was announced Walker would present a new Formula One programme for BBC Two with Suzi Perry. The show called Formula 1 Rewind involved him looking back at some of the BBC's archives.

In 2016, he moved with many other BBC F1 staff to Channel 4 to present a series of interviews with the sport's key players.Walker also provided continuity announcements to Formula One programming and races. He withdrew from Channel 4's commentary for the 2018 British Grand Prix due to ill health but appeared in recorded features.