04 Jul 5 Reasons Billy Murray is a living legend
by Dan Bryans
Here at Essex TV one of our favourite actors has always been Billy Murray. From his early roles in McVicar and that classic Sweeney episode ‘Stoppo Driver’ via his brilliant run as the bad boy of Sunhill, Don Beech in The Bill, to his stylishly menacing turn as Eastenders villain Johnny Allen, Murray has always combined gritty realism with cool menace on screen.
To a younger generation he is better known for films such as Rise of the Footsoldier and We Still Steal The Old Way or as the voice of Captain Price in the iconic Call of Duty video game series.
Here we count down our top 5 Billy Murray moments…
“There’s always one who drags you back” – with these words, delivered as he pushed Walford tough guy Andy Hunter off a bridge, Murray established Johnny Allen as the big bad Wolf of Walford and set up a series of feuds with the likes of Dennis, Sean Slater and the Mitchell brothers, culminating in the epic ‘Get Johnny Week.’ Eastenders hasn’t, in our opinion, filled the charismatic villain void convincingly since Johnny left Walford.
RISE OF THE FOOTSOLDIER
“I’m old school Kate. I’ve been around. And the loud ones never last.” Murray’s quiet, masterfully underplayed performance as Mickey Steele is one of the highlights of Julian Gilbey’s definitive Essex Boys film. His climatic murder of Craig Fairbrass’s Pat Tate is beautifully acted: cold, merciless, brilliant.
WE STILL STEAL THE OLD WAY “haven’t you pricks realised yet? I’m unstoppable!” Pitting TV veteran Murray against former Saint Ian Ogilvy was a stroke of genius and their verbal jousting pretty much carries this lightweight sequel to We Still Kill The Old Way. Murray knows this world (the Krays paid for him to go to drama school) and his performances always carry an air of authenticity which is his hallmark as an actor.
Murray’s epic run as rogue cop Don Beech is considered by many to be the long running cop show’s finest performance. Edgy, charming and funny Beech was trumpeted by viewers as “the kind of cop we need more of” even as he broke every rule in the book, running roughshod over the law and lining his own pockets. Dismissed from the force and jailed, he escaped and to coin the phrase of one of his spin off shows, Beech is now on the run. A true TV great.
JUST FOR THE RECORD
“Onto the next bar!” Not exactly a classic movie but with a cast including Rik Mayall, Danny Dyer, Colin Salmon and Sean Pertwee, JFTR also features a rare comedy performance from Murray as Wilson Barnes, a heavy boozing luvvie actor. Murray plays it in a velvet jacket and cravat and is clearly having the time of his life, pretty much stealing the film and leaving us wishing he’d do more comedy.