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Clary, Julian (1959-)

Actor, Presenter, Writer

Main image of Clary, Julian (1959-)

Often called 'the next Kenneth Williams', due to his self-consciously camp performing style, acerbic wit and waspish persona, Julian Clary has generally been better showcased in his stand-up and guest appearances than in his acting. He was born on the 25th May 1959 in Teddington, and had a strict Catholic upbringing, the source for much of his later humour. After studying English and drama at Goldsmiths, he first came to fame with a camp drag show named 'The Joan Collins Fan Club' until Ms Collins voiced her disapproval.

This led to a television series with the characteristically double entendre title of Sticky Moments With Julian Clary (Channel 4, 1989), a collaboration with Paul Merton that sent up TV gameshows. A sequel of sorts focused on his live stand-up show, Sticky Moments On Tour With Julian Clary (Channel 4, 1990). He also moved into offbeat travel presenting with the account of his quest for Roger Whittaker, Desperately Seeking Roger (Channel 4, 1991), followed by Brace Yourself Sydney (Channel 4, 1993). He made his acting debut, unsurprisingly channelling Kenneth Williams, as Don Juan Diego in Carry On Columbus (d. Gerald Thomas, 1992), but was more successful playing a heightened version of himself in the sitcom Terry and Julian (Channel 4, 1992), which he co-wrote.

He became infamous in 1993 for making an explicitly sexual remark about the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont at the British Comedy Awards, which virtually ended his career. His comeback came with more serious but no less flamboyant role as 'the man in the moon' in the drama Brazen Hussies (BBC, 1996), and he returned to lead roles with the legal spoof All Rise For Julian Clary (BBC, 1996). In addition to countless appearances in virtually every chat show and panel game imaginable, notably as a team captain on the long-running series It's Only TV... But I Like It (BBC, 1999-2002), he appeared in amusingly arch modern-day pantomimes, such as Jack and the Beanstalk (LWT, 1998), Cinderella (LWT, 2000) as 'the good fairy' and Dick Whittington (ITV, 2002). More recently, he was an unexpectedly graceful dancer in the revival of Strictly Come Dancing (BBC, 2005), coming third, and played the performance artist Leigh Bowery on stage in Boy George's musical Taboo. His 2005 autobiography, A Young Man's Passage, explores his childhood and rise to fame with typical wit and unexpected pathos.

Alexander Larman

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