|Stephen John Fry (born
24 August 1957) is an English humorist, writer, actor, novelist,
filmmaker and television presenter. As one half of the Fry and Laurie
double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he co-wrote and
co-starred in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is
also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of
QI. In addition to writing for stage, screen, television and radio, he
has contributed columns and articles for numerous newspapers and
magazines, and has written four successful novels and an
autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot.
Fry was born in Hampstead, London, the son of Alan Fry, an English
physicist, and Marianne Neumann, who is of Slovakian-Jewish parentage.
His mother's aunt and cousins were killed in Auschwitz concentration
camp. Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk,
having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire when very young.
Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School, Cawston, Norfolk,
described later in his 1997 book Moab Is My Washpot before going on
to Stouts Hill Preparatory School, and then to Uppingham School,
Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house. He was expelled from
Uppingham when he was fifteen, and subsequently from the Paston
School. At seventeen, after leaving 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 for
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 to Queens' College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, Fry gained a
degree in English literature, joined the Cambridge Footlights, and
appeared on University Challenge. As a member of the Footlights, he
also met his future comedy collaborator, Hugh Laurie.
Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage
years at public school, and was celibate for 16 years from 1979 until
1995.  When asked about when he knew he was homosexual he quotes
an old friend and says, "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 coming out of one of those.' " Fry currently lives in
London with his partner, Daniel Cohen, whom he met in 1995. He
famously drives a former 1988 London black cab. He also has a second
home in West Bilney, near King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Fry has been diagnosed with cyclothymia. He suffered a nervous
breakdown in 1995 while appearing in a West End play called Cell Mates
and subsequently walked out of the production, prompting its early
closure and incurring the displeasure of co-star Rik Mayall and
playwright Simon Gray. Mayall's comedy partner, Adrian Edmondson, made
light of the subject in his and Mayall's second Bottom live show.
After walking out of the production, Fry went missing for several days
while contemplating suicide. He abandoned the idea and left the United
Kingdom by ferry, eventually resurfacing in Belgium.
Fry has spoken publicly about his experience with bipolar disorder,
which was also depicted in the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret
Life of the Manic-Depressive. In the programme, he interviewed
other sufferers of the illness including celebrities Carrie Fisher,
Richard Dreyfuss and Tony Slattery. Also featured were chef Rick
Stein, whose father committed suicide, Robbie Williams, who talks of
his experience with unipolar depression, and comedienne/former mental
health nurse Jo Brand.
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 regard to the Iraq War.
Despite his praising of the current government for social reform, Fry
has been critical of the Labour Party's "Third Way" concept. He is on
cordial terms with Prince Charles (despite a mild parody Fry performed
in his role of 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 (and Blackadder co-star)
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. He was best man at the wedding of
Hugh Laurie and is godfather to all three of Laurie's children.
A fan of cricket, Fry is related to former England cricketer C.B.
Fry, and was recently interviewed for the Ashes Fever DVD,
reporting on England's victory against Australia in the 2005 Ashes
series. Regarding football, he is a supporter of Norwich City (as
mentioned in Ashes Fever), and is a regular visitor to Carrow Road.
He has been described as "deeply dippy for all things digital", claims
to have owned the second Macintosh sold in the UK (the first going to
Douglas Adams) and to have never encountered a smartphone that he has
not bought. He counts Wikipedia among his favourite websites
"because I like to find out that I died, and that I'm currently in a
ballet in China, and all the other very accurate and important things
that the Wikipedia site brings us all."
On 30 April 2008, Fry signed an open letter, published in The Guardian
newspaper by some well known Jewish personalities, stating their
opposition to celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the
State of Israel.
Fry's career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The
Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue written by Fry, Hugh
Laurie, Emma Thompson and Tony Slattery. The revue caught the
attention of Granada Television, who, keen to replicate the success of
the BBC's Not the Nine O'Clock News, hired Fry, Laurie and Thompson to
star alongside Ben Elton in There's Nothing To Worry About! A second
series, re-titled Alfresco, was broadcast in 1983 and a third in 1984;
it established Fry and Laurie's reputation as a comedy double act. In
1983, the BBC offered them their own show, which became The Crystal
Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mock documentary that was axed
after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an
episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry in Ben Elton's 1985 series,
Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned a
sketch show in 1986 that was to become A Bit of Fry and Laurie. The
programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and
1995, and was greatly successful. At the same time Fry was starring in
Blackadder II, as Lord Melchett, Blackadder the Third, as the Duke of
Wellington, and notably in Blackadder Goes Forth, as General Melchett.
In 1988, he became a regular contestant on the popular improvisational
comedy radio show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. However, when it moved to
television, he only appeared three times: twice in the first series
and once in the ninth.
Between 1990 and 1993, Fry starred as Jeeves (alongside Hugh Laurie's
Bertie Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster, 23 hour-long adaptations of P.G.
Wodehouse's novels and short stories.
In 2003, he began hosting QI, an intellectual panel game that has
become one of the most-watched entertainment programmes on British
television. In 2006, he won the Rose d'Or award for Best Game Show
Host for his work on the series.
A foray into documentary-making has seen Fry fronting the Emmy
Award-winning The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006, and in
2007 a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me. Also in
2006, he appeared in the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?,
tracing his family tree to discover his Slovak Jewish ancestry. He has
filmed a six-part travel series entitled Stephen Fry in America for
broadcast in 2008. A five-part companion series, More Fry in
America, has been commissioned for BBC Four; it will feature in-depth
essays that Fry couldn't include in the former documentary because of
As of 2008, Fry is appearing in, and is executive producer for, the
second series of legal drama Kingdom. He has also taken up a recurring
guest role as psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Wyatt in the popular American
drama Bones. While filming in Brazil for the series Last Chance to
See, Fry broke his right arm.
On May 7, 2008, Fry gave a speech as part of a series of BBC lectures
on the future of Public service broadcasting in the United
Having made his film debut in the 1985 movie The Good Father, Fry had
a brief appearance in A Fish Called Wanda and then appeared in the
lead role for Kenneth Branagh's Peter's Friends in 1992. Portraying
Oscar Wilde (a man of whom he had been a fan since the age of 13) in
the 1997 film Wilde, he fulfilled to critical acclaim a role that he
has said he was "born to play". In 2001, he played the detective in
Robert Altman's period costume drama, Gosford Park.
In 2003, Fry made his directorial debut with Bright Young Things,
adapted by himself from Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. In 2001, he began
hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in
2006. Later that same year, he wrote the English libretto and
dialogue for Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of The Magic Flute.
Fry continues to make regular film appearances, notably in treatments
of literary cult classics. He served as narrator in a film version of
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and in 2005 he appeared in both
A Cock and Bull Story, based on Tristram Shandy, and V for
Vendetta. In 2006, he played the role of gadget-master Smithers in
Stormbreaker, and in 2007 he appeared as himself hosting a quiz in St
Trinian's. In 2007, Fry wrote a script for a remake of The Dam Busters
for director Peter Jackson.
Fry became famous to radio listeners with the creation of his supposed
alter-ego, Donald Trefusis, whose "wireless essays" were broadcast on
the Radio 4 programme Loose Ends. In 1988, Fry wrote and presented a
renowned six-part comedy series entitled Saturday Night Fry; frequent
radio appearances have ensued (notably on panel games Just a Minute
and I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue). In 2000, he began starring as Charles
Prentiss in the Radio 4 comedy Absolute Power, reprising the role for
three further series on radio and two on television.
In 2007, he hosted Current Puns, an exploration into wordplay, and
Radio 4: This Is Your Life, to celebrate the radio station's 40th
anniversary. He also interviewed Tony Blair as part of a series of
podcasts released by 10 Downing Street.
In February 2008, Fry began presenting podcasts entitled Stephen Fry's
Podgrams, in which he recounts his life and recent experiences.
In July 2008, Fry appears as himself in I Love Stephen Fry, an
Afternoon Play for Radio 4 written by former Fry and Laurie script
editor Jon Canter.
Fry wrote a play entitled Latin! (or Tobacco and Boys) for the 1980
Edinburgh Festival, where it won the "Fringe First" prize. The Cellar
Tapes, the Footlights Revue of the following year, won the Perrier
Comedy Award. In 1984, Fry adapted the hugely successful 1930s
musical, Me and My Girl, for the West End, where it ran for eight
years. He also famously starred in Simon Gray's 1995 play, Cell Mates,
from which he left three days into the West End run, pleading stage
fright. He later recalled the incident as a hypomanic episode in his
documentary on bipolar disorder. In 2007, Fry wrote a Christmas
pantomime, Cinderella, which ran at London's Old Vic Theatre.
Since the publication of his first novel, The Liar, Fry has written
three additional novels, several non-fiction works and an
autobiography, all of which have been much acclaimed by critics.
Making History is arguably Fry's most controversial book: set in an
alternative universe inspired by Daniel Goldhagen's theses, it
advances the argument that the Holocaust, or rather something with
similar effects, would have occurred regardless of Hitler's existence.
Fry's most recent book, The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet
Within, is a guide to writing poetry. In the United Kingdom, he is a
well-known narrator of audiobooks, notably the Harry Potter
series. He has recorded audio versions of works by Roald Dahl,
Michael Bond, A. A. Milne, Anthony Buckeridge and Douglas Adams, as
well as several of his own books.
When writing a book review for Tatler, Fry wrote under an alias,
Williver Hendry, editor of A Most Peculiar Friendship: The
Correspondence of Lord Alfred Douglas and Jack Dempsey, a field close
to Fry's heart as an Oscar Wilde enthusiast. Once a columnist in The
Listener and The Daily Telegraph, he now writes a weekly technology
column in the Saturday edition of The Guardian. His blog attracted
over 300,000 visitors in its first two weeks of existence.
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. He served two consecutive terms (1992–1995 and
1995–1998) as the student-elected Rector of the University (only the
second rector of the university to be elected twice, the first being
Clement Freud); coincidentally, this post is currently held by his
secondary school classmate, controversial former diplomat Craig
Fry was also awarded an honourary degree from Anglia Ruskin University
in Cambridge in 2005.
In 2005, Fry was made honorary president of the Cambridge University
Quiz Society and honorary fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge.
In a 2005 poll to find The Comedians' 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, was featured on The Culture Show, and was voted most
intelligent man on television by readers of Radio Times.
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
Later the same month he was announced as the 2007 BT Mind Champion of
the Year in recognition of the awareness raised by his documentary
on bipolar disorder, and was also nominated for Best Entertainment
Performance (QI) and Best Factual Series (Secret Life of the Manic
Depressive) at the 2007 British Academy Television Awards.
BBC Four dedicated two nights of programming to Fry on the 17th and
18th August 2007, in celebration of his 50th birthday. The first
night, comprising programmes featuring Fry, began with a 60-minute
documentary entitled Stephen Fry: 50 Not Out. The second night was
composed of programmes selected by Fry, as well as a 60-minute
interview with Mark Lawson and half-hour special, Stephen Fry: Guilty
Pleasures. Stephen Fry Weekend proved such a ratings hit for BBC Four
that it was repeated on BBC Two for the 16th and 17th September.
He currently holds the UK record for saying "fuck" the most times on a
live television broadcast.
Fry was the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year before the
award was discontinued for legal reasons.
He is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre and a Vice President
of The Noël Coward Society.
He was granted a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy
Awards on December 5, 2007.
In 2007 Broadcast magazine listed Fry at #4 in its "Hot 100" list of
influential on-screen performers, describing him as a polymath and a
In Episode C.10 of QI he revealed he is allergic to champagne.
In January 2008, Fry broke his arm while filming in Brazil. He
later explained in a podcast how the accident happened. While climbing
onboard a boat, he slipped between it and the dock and while stopping
himself from falling into the water, his body weight caused his right
humerus to snap. The damage was more severe than first thought: the
resulting vulnerability to his radial nerve — which meant he was at
risk of losing the use of his arm — was not diagnosed until he saw a
consultant in the UK.
He has a deviated septum due to falling and breaking his nose when he
List of works
Films and screenplays
Bright Young Things (2003)
The Magic Flute (libretto, forthcoming)
Me and My Girl (adapted Lupino Lane's script) (1984)
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))
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)
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
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)
The Good Father (1985)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988, cameo)
Peter's Friends (1992)
Stalag Luft as James Forrester (1993)
IQ as James Moreland (1994)
Wind in the Willows as The Judge (1996)
Wilde as Oscar Wilde (1997)
Spiceworld as Judge (1997)
A Civil Action (1998)
Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999)
Relative Values (2000)
Gosford Park (2001)
The Discovery of Heaven (2001)
Le Divorce (2003)
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
Tom Brown's Schooldays(2005)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (voice) (2005)
A Cock and Bull Story (2006)
V for Vendetta (2006)
St Trinian's (2007)
The Common Pursuit (1988)
Cell Mates, (1995)
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
Absolute Power, BBC Radio Four
Occasional guest panellist on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, BBC Radio
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
Afternoon Play: I Love Stephen Fry (2008, BBC Radio Four)
The Crystal Cube (one-off BBC2 sketch show) (1983)
The Young Ones (1984)
Happy Families (1985)
Filthy Rich & Catflap (1986)
The Blackadder Series: Blackadder II (1986), Blackadder the Third
(1987), Blackadder: The Cavalier Years and Blackadder's Christmas
Carol (1988), Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), and Blackadder: Back &
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)
A Bear Named Winnie (2004)
Absolute Power (2003, 2005)
Tom Brown's Schooldays (2005)
Pocoyo (2005) — an animated children's television programme, which he
The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2006)
Shrink Rap (2007) — a quasi-therapeutic interview conducted by Pamela
Stephen Fry: HIV and Me (2007)
Stephen Fry and the Gutenberg Press (2008)
Stephen Fry in America (2008, forthcoming)
More Fry in America (announced)
Moab Is My Washpot (1997) ISBN 1-85686-268-2
The Hippopotamus (2000) ISBN 1-84197-129-4
Harry Potter series, UK versions (1999–2007)
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
Guest appearance in a webcast of Doctor Who called Death Comes to
Time, as Time Lord, the Minister of Chance
Fry introduced the television show Wildlife SOS
He provided the voice of 'The Narrator' during the non-playable
sections of the Playstation game Harry Potter And The Philosopher's
He provided voiceovers for Argos' Christmas adverts in 2007
He is the character in the Twinings Earl Grey tea adverts on British
He performs the voice of "Jeeves" for Voco Clocks' Clocks That Talk
He performs on the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's 2007 album, Pour l'Amour
Bright Young Things (director, 2003)