Murray Walker, 84-year-old national treasure and the universally-acknowledged voice of F1, returned to his home city of Birmingham yesterday to take his place among its most famous citizens.
He has joined Brummie greats like comedian Jasper Carrott and rock musicians Ozzy Osbourne in the city’s Broad Street Walk of Stars.
Despite being born in the suburb of Hall Green, he lacks a strong regional accent – perhaps due to his education at London’s Highgate School and Sandhurst.
Indeed, hailing from a time when received pronunciation was a prerequisite for broadcasting, it is unlikely that he could otherwise have achieved the prominence that he has.
He said of the award: “It’s very flattering. It’s one of Britain’s great cities and to be honoured in this way is very flattering indeed and I’m obviously delighted it’s happening to me.
“I’m very lucky that I’ve spent many years talking about a sport that appeals to many people.”
According to the Walk of Stars website, the criteria for nomination include making a recognised impact in a specialist field of work, performing at one of Birmingham’s major venues or having prominent links with Birmingham and the Midlands.
It is organised and funded by the Broad Street Business Improvement District (BID), which represents businesses in the area.
Allan Sartori, marketing director, said: “Murray Walker is a national institution. Millions of viewers were introduced to the previously inaccessible world of Formula 1 through Murray and when he announced his retirement at the end of 2001, it was as if the sport itself had lost one of its biggest stars.
“However, I know that his knowledge of the sport is unsurpassed and his enthusiasm for it remains undiminished. We are extremely proud that he has accepted our invitation to be honoured by his home city.”
Murray’s visit to Birmingham was rounded off with a black-tie dinner at the Hyatt Hotel with more than 150 guests due to attend.