Alastair James Hay 'Al' Murray has come a long way since picking up the prestigious Perrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1999 - his alter-ego The Pub Landlord, all boorish, bear-like and 'beery', has become a comedy institution or, as he may exclaim with pint firmly clasped in outsized pudgy mitt, "a beautiful British national treasure, laydeez an' gennelmen".
Pitched somewhere between a stereotypical bulldog-breed of iffy patriotism (he doesn't like the French - "not enough rules" - or the Germans - "too many rules"), Murray's sozzled vernacular borders on so-called non-PC bigotry, yet always remains jovial, bittersweet and, above all, very funny. Some comedians rely on audience-participation, filling their act with sharp-tongued barbs and cruel asides, yet Murray's genial host, deliberately side-steps confrontation with cheeky references and gentle ribbing. You can't help but like him. Outside of his Pub Landlord persona, Murray has flirted with Gordon Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen, Comic Relief turns and a documentary called 'German Adventure', in which the irony of Al's visit to a country his alter-ego allegedly despises, made for compelling viewing, if only for the scenery and the presenter's thoughtful and wide-eyed narration.
2012 will see Murray reconvene with a brand new show and tour. With a title cheekily adapted from a well-known TV 'docuality' show, The Only Way is Epic promises to be as big as the banner suggests. The tour now starts in Tobermory on 31st July 2012, followed by additional dates in Skye, Ullapool, Stornoway, Barra, Inverness, Dunkeld and then Dunoon, on 8th August. We will have tickets available for the new dates from 9am on Friday 4th May, priced from around £25.
The original schedule resumes in Hereford on 8th September - tickets available now, also priced from about £25.