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For other people named Stephen Fry, see Stephen Fry (disambiguation).

Stephen Fry

Fry at Winfield House in June 2016

BornStephen John Fry
(1957-08-24) 24 August 1957 (age 60)[1]
Hampstead, London, England, U.K.
NationalityBritish
EducationThe College of West Anglia
City College Norwich
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
OccupationActor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director
Years active1981–present
TitlePresident of Mind(2011–present)[2]
Honorary fellow of Queens' College, Cambridge
Honorary fellow of Cardiff University
Rector of the University of Dundee(1992–1998)
Spouse(s)Elliott Spencer (m. 2015)
Parent(s)
  • Alan John Fry
  • Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman)
Websitewww.stephenfry.com
Signature

Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957)[1] is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist. He is well known as half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, with collaborator Hugh Laurie, with whom he co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster.

Fry's acting roles include a Golden Globe Award–nominated lead performance in the film Wilde, Melchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the title character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award–winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, which saw him explore his bipolar disorder, and the travel series Stephen Fry in America. He was also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI, with his tenure lasting from 2003 to 2016.

Besides working in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines and written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles, and More Fool Me. He also appears frequently on BBC Radio 4, starring in the comedy series Absolute Power, being a frequent guest on panel games such as Just a Minute, and acting as chairman during one series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, where he was one of a trio of possible hosts who were tried out to succeed the late Humphrey Lyttelton, Jack Dee getting the post permanently.

Fry is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket,[3] and a series of animations about Humanism for Humanists UK.[4] He has also filmed commercials, including an advertisement where he explains the essence of British culture to foreigners arriving at London's Heathrow Airport.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Fry was born in Hampstead, London, on 24 August 1957[1] to Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman) and Alan John Fry, a British physicist and inventor.[6][7][8] Fry's father is English, and his paternal grandmother had roots in Kent and Cheshire.[9][10] The Fry family originates in Dorset, at Shillingstone and Blandford; in the early 1800s, Samuel Fry (second son of James Fry, of Shillingstone and Blandford) settled in Surrey, with his descendants residing in Middlesex.[11]

Fry's mother is Jewish, but he was not brought up in a religious family.[12] His maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann,[8] were Hungarian Jews, who emigrated from Šurany (now Slovakia) to Britain in 1927. Rosa Neumann's parents, who originally lived in Vienna, were sent to a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia, where they were murdered.[8][12][13] His mother's aunt and cousins were sent to Auschwitz and Stutthof and never seen again.[8]

Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, at an early age. He has an elder brother, Roger, and a younger sister, Joanna.[14] Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School in Cawston, Norfolk,[15] before going on to Stouts Hill Preparatory School in Uley, Gloucestershire, at the age of seven, and then to Uppingham School, Rutland, where he joined Fircroft house, and was described as a "near-asthmatic genius".[16] He was expelled from Uppingham when he was 15 and subsequently from the Paston School.

At 17, after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend.[17] He had taken a coat when leaving a pub, planning to spend the night sleeping rough, but had then discovered the card in a pocket.[18] He was arrested in Swindon, and, as a result, spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison on remand. While Fry was in Pucklechurch, his mother had cut out the crossword from every copy of The Times since he had been away, something which Fry said was "a wonderful act of kindness". Fry later stated that these crosswords were the only thing that got him through the ordeal.[17]

Following his release, he resumed his education at City College Norwich, promising administrators that he would study rigorously to sit the Cambridge entrance exams. He scored well enough to gain a scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge. At Cambridge, Fry joined the Footlights, appeared on University Challenge,[19] and read for a degree in English literature, graduating with upper second-class honours.[20][21] Fry also met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and starred alongside him in the Footlights.

Career[edit]

Further information: Stephen Fry bibliography and filmography

Television[edit]

Comedy[edit]

Fry's career in television began with the 1982 broadcasting of The Cellar Tapes, the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue which was 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, retitled 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 Fry, Laurie and Thompson their own show, which became The Crystal Cube, a mixture of science fiction and mockumentary that was cancelled after the first episode. Undeterred, Fry and Laurie appeared in an episode of The Young Ones in 1984, and Fry also appeared in Ben Elton's 1985 Happy Families series. In 1986 and 1987 Fry and Laurie performed sketches on the LWT/Channel 4 show Saturday Live.

Forgiving Fry and Laurie for The Crystal Cube, the BBC commissioned, in 1986, a sketch show that was to become A Bit of Fry & Laurie. The programme ran for 26 episodes spanning four series between 1986 and 1995, and was very successful. During this time, Fry starred in Blackadder II as Lord Melchett, made a guest appearance in Blackadder the Third as the Duke of Wellington, then returned to a starring role in Blackadder Goes Forth, as General Melchett. In a 1988 television special, Blackadder's Christmas Carol, he played the roles of Lord Melchett and Lord Frondo. 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.

Towards the end of 2003, Fry starred alongside John Bird in the television adaptation of Absolute Power, previously a radio series on BBC Radio 4. In 2010, Fry took part in a Christmas series of short films called Little Crackers. His short was based on a story from his childhood at school.[22] He appeared as the Christian God in 2011's Holy Flying Circus. In January 2016 it was announced that Fry would be appearing as the character "Cuddly Dick" in Series 3 of the Sky One family comedy Yonderland.[23] In 2016, Fry had a lead role in the American sitcom The Great Indoors. He portrayed an outdoor magazine publisher helping to ease his best worldly reporter (Joel McHale) into a desk job.[24] The show was cancelled after one season.[25]

Drama[edit]

Fry has appeared in a number of BBC adaptations of plays and books, including a 1992 adaptation of the Simon Gray play The Common Pursuit (he had previously appeared in the West End stage production); a 1998 Malcolm Bradbury adaptation of the Mark Tavener novel In the Red, taking the part of the Controller of BBC Radio 2; and in 2000 in the role of Professor Bellgrove in the BBC serial Gormenghast, which was adapted from the first two novels of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast series. In 2011, Fry portrayed Professor Mildeye in the BBC adaptation of Mary Norton's 1952 novel The Borrowers.[26]

Fry narrates the first two seasons of the English-language version of the Spanish children's animated series Pocoyo.[27] From 2007 to 2009, Fry played the lead role in (and was executive producer for) the legal drama Kingdom, which ran for three series on ITV1.[28] He has also taken up a recurring guest role as FBI psychiatrist Dr. (later chef) Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones. In 2010, having learned some Irish for the role,[29] he filmed a cameo role in Ros na Rún, an Irish-language soap opera broadcast in Ireland, Scotland and the US.[30][31][32] In 2014 he began starring alongside Kiefer Sutherland and William Devane in 24: Live Another Day as British Prime Minister Alastair Davies.[33]

Documentaries and other factual programmes[edit]

Fry's first documentary was the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006.[34] The same year, he appeared on the BBC's genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his maternal family tree to investigate his Jewish ancestry.[35] Fry narrated The Story of Light Entertainment, which was shown from July–September 2006.[36] In 2007, he presented a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me.[37]

On 7 May 2008, Fry gave a speech as part of a series of BBC lectures on the future of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom,[38] which he later recorded for a podcast.[39] His six-part travel series Stephen Fry in America began on BBC One in October 2008, and saw him travel to each of the 50 US states.[40] In the same year, he narrated the nature documentariesSpectacled Bears: Shadow of the Forest for the BBC Natural World series. In the 2009 television series Last Chance to See, Fry and zoologist Mark Carwardine sought out endangered species, some of which had been featured in Douglas Adams' and Carwardine's 1990 book and radio series of the same name.[41]

In August 2011, Stephen Fry's 100 Greatest Gadgets was shown on Channel 4 as one of the 100 Greatest strand.[42] His choice for the greatest gadget was the cigarette lighter, which he described as "fire with a flick of the fingers".[42] In the same month, the nature documentary series Ocean Giants, narrated by Fry, premiered. In September 2011, Fry's Planet Word, a five-part documentary about language, aired on BBC HD and BBC Two.[43][44] In November 2011, an episode of Living The Life featured Fry in an intimate conversation discussing his life and career with Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman.[45]

At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards shown on ITV on 30 October, Fry, along with Michael Caine, Elton John, Richard Branson and Simon Cowell, recited Rudyard Kipling's poem "If—" in tribute to the 2012 British Olympic and Paralympic athletes.[46] In November 2012, Fry hosted a gadgets show called Gadget Man, exploring the usefulness of various gadgets in different daily situations to improve the livelihoods of everyone.[47] In October 2013, Fry presented Stephen Fry: Out There, a two-part documentary in which he explores attitudes to homosexuality and the lives of gay people in different parts of the globe.[48]

On Christmas Day 2013, Fry featured with adventurer Bear Grylls in an episode of Channel 4's Bear's Wild Weekends. Over the course of two days, in the Italian Dolomites, Fry travelled on the skids of a helicopter, climbed down a raging 500-foot waterfall, slept in a First World War trench and abseiled down a towering cliff face.[18] In June 2015 Fry was the guest on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs. His favourite piece was the String Quartet No. 14 by Beethoven. His book choice was Four Quartets by T. S. Eliot and his luxury item was "canvasses, easels, brushes, an instruction manual".[49]

QI[edit]

Main article: QI

In 2003, Fry began hosting QI (Quite Interesting), a comedy panel game television quiz show. QI was created and co-produced by John Lloyd, and features permanent panellist Alan Davies. QI has the highest viewing figures for any show on BBC Four and Dave (formerly UKTV G2).[50][51] In 2006, Fry won the Rose d'Or award for "Best Game Show Host" for his work on the series. In October 2015, it was announced that Fry would retire as the host of QI after the "M" series.[52]

Film[edit]

Having made his film début in the 1985 film The Good Father, Fry had a brief appearance in A Fish Called Wanda (in which he is knocked out by Kevin Kline, who is posing as an airport security man), and then appeared as the eponymous Peter in Kenneth Branagh's Peter's Friends in 1992. In the 1994 romantic comedy film I.Q., he played the role of James Moreland. Portraying Oscar Wilde (of whom he had been an ardent admirer 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". It also earned him a nomination for Best Actor – Drama in the 1998 Golden Globe Award. A year later, Fry starred in David Yates' small independent film The Tichborne Claimant, and in 2001 he played the detective in Robert Altman's period costume drama, Gosford Park. In the same year, he also appeared in the Dutch film The Discovery of Heaven, directed by Jeroen Krabbé and based on the novel by Harry Mulisch.

In 2003, Fry made his directorial début with Bright Young Things, adapted by him from Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies. In 2001, he began hosting the BAFTA Film Awards, a role from which he stepped down in 2006.[53] Later that same year, he wrote the English libretto and dialogue for Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of The Magic Flute.[54]

Fry continues to make regular film appearances, notably in treatments of literary cult classics. He portrayed Maurice Woodruff in The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, served as narrator in the 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and in 2005 appeared in both A Cock and Bull Story, based on Tristram Shandy, and V for Vendetta, as a non-conforming TV presenter who challenges the fascist state. The Wachowskis pointed out that it was Fry's "normalcy" in the face of the insanity of the censorship of BTV that makes his character truly powerful and adds a "wholly unexpected dimension to the film".[55] 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, for director Peter Jackson, a script for a remake of The Dam Busters.[56] He also appeared that year in Eichmann.

Fry was offered a role in Valkyrie, but was unable to participate.[57] Fry starred in the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, as the voice of the Cheshire Cat.[58] He played Mycroft Holmes in the 2011 film Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, directed by Guy Ritchie.[59] In 2010, Fry provided the voice of Socrates the Lion in the environmental animated film Animals United. He portrayed the Master of Lake-town in two of Peter Jackson's three film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: the second The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,[60] and the third The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Radio[edit]

Fry came to the attention of radio listeners with the 1986 creation of his alter-ego, Donald Trefusis, whose "wireless essays" were broadcast on the BBC Radio 4 programme Loose Ends. In the 1980s, he starred as David Lander in four series of the BBC Radio 4 show Delve Special, written by Tony Sarchet, which then became the six-part Channel 4 series This is David Lander in 1988. In 1988, Fry wrote and presented a 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 2002, Fry was one of the narrators of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, in which he voiced Winnie-the-Pooh. He presented a 20-part, two-hour series, The Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music, a "witty guide" to the genre over the past 1,000 years, on Classic FM.

In 2007, he hosted Current Puns, an exploration of wordplay, and Radio 4: This Is Your Life, to celebrate the radio station's 40th anniversary. He also interviewed the Prime Minister Tony Blair as part of a series of podcasts released by 10 Downing Street.[61] In February 2008, Fry began presenting podcasts entitled Stephen Fry's Podgrams, in which he recounts his life and recent experiences.[62] In July 2008, he appeared as himself in I Love Stephen Fry, an Afternoon Play for Radio 4 written by former Fry and Laurie script editor Jon Canter.[63]

Since August 2008, he has presented Fry's English Delight, a series on BBC Radio 4 about the English language.[64] As of 2015, it has been running for eight series and 30 episodes. In the summer 2009 series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, Fry was one of a trio of hosts replacing Humphrey Lyttelton (the others being Jack Dee and Rob Brydon).[65] In 2012, he appeared as a guest panellist in the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show Wordaholics.[66] In September 2012, he guest-starred as himself in the audio comedy drama We Are The BBC, produced by the Wireless Theatre Company, written by Susan Casanove.[67]

Theatre[edit]

Fry wrote the play Latin! or Tobacco and Boys for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival, where it won the Fringe first prize.[68] It had a revival in 2009 at London's Cock Tavern Theatre, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher.[69]The Cellar Tapes, the Footlights Revue of 1981, 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.

Fry was cast in Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit for its first staging in London's West End on 7 April 1988, with Rik Mayall, John Sessions, Sarah Berger, Paul Mooney and John Gordon Sinclair, directed by Simon Gray.[70] He was also cast in a lead role in Simon Gray's 1995 play Cell Mates, 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 about bipolar disorder, The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. In 2007, Fry wrote a Christmas pantomime, Cinderella, which ran at London's Old Vic Theatre.[71]

Fry is a long-standing fan of the anarchic British musical comedy group the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and particularly of its eccentric front man, the late Vivian Stanshall. Fry helped to fund a 1988 London re-staging of Stanshall's Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera, written by Vivian and Ki Longfellow-Stanshall for the Bristol-based Old Profanity Showboat. Fry performed several of Stanshall's numbers as part of the Bonzos' 2006 reunion concert at the London Astoria. He also appears as a shiny New Millennium Bonzo on their post-reunion album, Pour l'Amour des Chiens, on which he recites a recipe for "Salmon Proust", plays a butler in "Hawkeye the Gnu", and voices ads for the fictitious "Fiasco" stores. Following three one-man shows in Australia, Fry announced a 'sort of stand-up' performance at The Royal Albert Hall in London for September 2010.[72]

In September 2012, Fry made a return to the stage at Shakespeare's Globe, appearing as Malvolio in a production of William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which transferred to the West End in November 2012.[73][74] He received excellent reviews.[73][74] The production transferred to Broadway, with previews beginning 15 October 2013 and Opening Night 10 November 2013. Fry was nominated for a Tony in the category Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for the Broadway revival.[75][76] In August 2013, he lent his voice to the title role in Britten's operetta Paul Bunyan at the Wales Millennium Centre with the Welsh National Youth Opera.[77]

In December 2013, Fry was invited by The Noel Coward Society to lay flowers on the statue of Sir Noël Coward at The Gershwin Theatre in Manhattan to celebrate the 114th birthday of "The Master".

Audiobooks[edit]

Fry has been the reader for the British versions of all of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of audiobooks. He discussed this project in an interview with Rowling in 2005.[78] He has also read for Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film tie-in edition and has made recordings of his own books, such as The Stars' Tennis Balls and Moab Is My Washpot, and of works by Roald Dahl, Michael Bond, A. A. Milne, Anthony Buckeridge, Eleanor Updale, and Alexander Pushkin. In June 2015, Fry backed children's fairy tale app GivingTales in aid of UNICEF together with other British celebrities Sir Roger Moore, Ewan McGregor, Dame Joan Collins, Joanna Lumley, Michael Caine, David Walliams, Charlotte Rampling, Paul McKenna and Michael Ball.[79]

In February 2017, Audible released Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection, a complete collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, all read by Fry, who also narrated an introduction for each novel or collection of stories.

Fry is the patron of the audiobook charity Listening Books.[80] Fry said of his patronage, "I’m proud and delighted to be patron of the first audiobook charity to offer downloads to its members and excited about what this will mean for all print impaired people who can now listen on-the-go."[80]

Video games[edit]

Fry's distinctive voice has been featured in a number of video games, including an appearance as Reaver, an amoral supporting character in Lionhead Studios games Fable II and Fable III, and as the narrator of the LittleBigPlanet series.[81][82] He also narrated the first four Harry Potter games: Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire.

Advertising[edit]

Fry has appeared in numerous advertisements – either on-screen or in voice-over – starting with an appearance as "Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar" in a 1982 advert for WhitbreadBest Bitter. Fry has said, in his memoirs, that after receiving his payment for this work – £25,000 – he has never subsequently experienced "what one could call serious money troubles". He has since appeared in adverts for products and companies such as Marks and Spencer, Twinings, Kenco, Vauxhall, Honda, Direct Line, Calpol, Heineken, Alliance & Leicester (a series of adverts which also featured Hugh Laurie), After Eights, Trebor, Panama cigars, Virgin Media and Orange Mobile.

Literature[edit]

Since the publication of his first novel, The Liar (1991), Fry has written three further novels, several non-fiction works and three volumes of autobiography. Making History (1997) is partly set in an alternative universe in which Adolf Hitler's father is made infertile and his replacement proves a rather more effective Führer. The book won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. The Hippopotamus (1994) is about Edward (Ted/Tedward) Wallace and his stay at his old friend Lord Logan's country manor in Norfolk. The Hippopotamus was later adapted into a 2017 film.[84]The Stars' Tennis Balls (2000) is a modern retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo. Fry's book The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within is a guide to writing poetry.

When writing a book review for Tatler, Fry wrote under a pen name, Williver Hendry, editor of A Most Peculiar Friendship: The Correspondence of Lord Alfred Douglas and Jack Dempsey, a field close to his 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 more than 300,000 visitors in its first two weeks.[40]

In May 2009, Fry unveiled The Dongle of Donald Trefusis, an audiobook series following Donald Trefusis (a fictional character from Fry's novel The Liar and from the BBC Radio 4 series Loose Ends), set over 12 episodes.[85] After its release, it reached No. 1 on the UK Album Chart list. Ultimately however only three episodes were released, the rest with the note 'exact release date pending'. Fry's use of the word "luvvie" (spelled "lovie" by Fry), in The Guardian on 2 April 1988, is given by the Oxford English Dictionary as the earliest recorded use of the word as a humorous synonym for "actor".[86]

[edit]

In August 2010, Fry joined the board of directors at Norwich City Football Club. A lifelong fan of "the Canaries" and a regular visitor to Carrow Road, he said, on being appointed, "Truly this is one of the most exciting days of my life, and I am as proud and pleased as I could be."[87] Fry stepped down from his Board position in January 2016, to take up a new position as "Norwich City Ambassador".[88] Fry said, "My five years in the role have been an honour and a privilege beyond almost anything I can remember. I wish I could take credit for ushering the club up from League One to the Premiership during that time on the Board. Actually, I’m going to. It was all me. It can’t have been a coincidence ... But now I’m so happy to relinquish my seat on the board to Thomas Smith and to engage as fully as I can in the role of ambassador for Norwich City. We have so much to be proud of, both on and off the pitch, and I hope to welcome many new fans to the greatest club of all. On the Ball, City!"[88] In February 2014, Fry became the honorary president of Proud Canaries, a new club for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans.[89]

[edit]

In October 2008, Fry began posting to the social networking site Twitter,[90] which he regularly updated.[91] On 16 May 2009, he celebrated the 500,000-follower mark: "Bless my soul 500k followers. And I love you all. Well, all except that silly one. And that's not you."[92]

Fry wields a considerable amount of influence through his use of Twitter.[93][94] He is frequently asked to promote various charities and causes, often inadvertently causing their websites to crash because of the volume of traffic generated by his large number of followers; as Fry notes on his website: "Four thousand hits a second all diving down the pipeline at the same time for minutes on end."[95] He uses his influence to recommend underexposed musicians and authors (who often see large increases in web hits and sales)[96][97] and to raise awareness of contemporary issues in the world of media and politics, notably the dropping of an injunction against The Guardian[98][99] and the attacking of Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir over her article on the death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately.[100][101]

In November 2009, Fry's Twitter account reached one million followers. He commemorated the million-followers milestone with a humorous video blog in which a 'Step Hen Fry' clone speaks from the year 2034, where MySpace, Facebook and Twitter have combined to form 'Twit on MyFace'.[102] In November 2010, he welcomed his two-millionth follower with a blog entry detailing his opinions and experiences of Twitter.[103] On 11 March 2012, Fry noted his passing of the four-million-followers mark with a tweet: "Lordy I've breasted the 4 million followers tape. Love you all. Yes even YOU. But let's dedicate today to Douglas Adams's diamond jubilee".[104] As of February 2017[update] he had 12.4 million followers.

Fry has a history of temporarily distancing himself from the social networking site which began when he received criticism in October 2009. However, he retracted the announcement that he would be leaving the following day.[106] In October 2010, Fry left Twitter for a few days, with a farewell message of "Bye bye", following press criticism of a quote taken from an interview he had given. After returning, he explained that he had left Twitter to "avoid being sympathised with or told about an article" he "would otherwise never have got wind of".[107] In some quarters, the general methods Fry uses on Twitter have been criticised.[108] On 15 February 2016, Fry deleted his Twitter account, after receiving criticism for a tweet about Jenny Beavan and her dress.[109] Fry alluded to this on an April 2016 episode of The Rubin Report in which he criticized groupthink mentality and stated that his return to Twitter was a "maybe".[110][111] He returned to Twitter in August 2016.[112]

Honours[edit]

In 1995, Fry was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Dundee, which named their main Students' Association bar after his novel The Liar. Fry is a patron of its Lip Theatre Company.[113] He also served two consecutive terms – 1992 to 1995 and 1995 to 1998 – as the student-elected Rector of the University of Dundee. Such was his popularity, he was unopposed when he sought re-election to office in 1995, and by the time he completed his second term in office, he had won the widespread admiration of the University's staff and students.[114][115] He was awarded the AoC Gold Award in 2004, and was entered into their Hall of Fame.[116] Fry was also awarded an honorary degree from Anglia Ruskin University in 2005.[117][118]

He was made honorary president of the Cambridge University Quiz Society and honorary fellow of his alma materQueens' College, Cambridge. On 13 July 2010, he was made an honorary fellow of Cardiff University,[119] and on 28 January 2011, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at the University of Sussex, for his work campaigning for people suffering from mental health problems, bipolar disorder and HIV.[120] He is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre and a Vice-President of The Noël Coward Society.[121] Fry was the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year before the award was discontinued.[122] In 2017, Fry became the latest patron of the Norwich Film Festival, and said he was "Very proud now to be a patron of a festival that encourages people from Norfolk, Norwich and beyond to be enchanted, beguiled and entranced by all kinds of film that might not otherwise reach them."[123]

In December 2006, he was ranked sixth for the BBC's Top Living Icon Award,[124] was featured on The Culture Show, and was voted Most Intelligent Man on Television by readers of Radio Times. The Independent on Sunday Pink List named Fry the second most influential gay person in Britain in May 2007; he had taken the twenty-third position on the list the previous year.[125] Later the same month, he was announced as the 2007 Mind Champion of the Year,[2] in recognition of the success of his documentary The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive in raising awareness of bipolar disorder. He was also nominated in "Best Entertainment Performance" for QI and "Best Factual Series" for Secret Life of the Manic Depressive at the 2007 British Academy Television Awards.[126] That same year, Broadcast magazine listed Fry at number four in its "Hot 100" list of influential on-screen performers, describing him as a polymath and a "national treasure".[127] He was also granted a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards on 5 December 2007,[128] and the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards on 20 January 2010.[129]

BBC Four dedicated two nights of programming to Fry on 17 and 18 August 2007, in celebration of his 50th birthday. The first night, comprising programs featuring Fry, began with a sixty-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 a half-hour special, Stephen Fry: Guilty.[130] The weekend programming proved such a ratings hit for BBC Four that it was repeated on BBC Two on 16 and 17 September 2007. In 2011, he was the subject of Molly Lewis's song An Open Letter to Stephen Fry, in which the singer jokingly offers herself as a surrogate mother for his child.[131] In February 2011, Fry was awarded the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University, the Harvard Secular Society and the American Humanist Association.[132]

In 2012, Fry wrote the foreword to the Union of UEA Students report on the student experience for LGBT+ members.[133] As recognition of his public support for LGBT+ rights and for the Union's report, the Union of UEA Students awarded him, on 18 October 2012, Honorary Life Membership of the Union.[134] In March 2014 Fry beat David Attenborough and Davina McCall to win the Best Presenter award at the Royal Television Society Programme Awards. The award was given for his BBC2 programme Stephen Fry: Out There.[135] In an episode of QI, "M-Merriment", originally broadcast in December 2015, Fry was awarded membership of The Magic Circle.

In 2017, the bird louseSaepocephalum stephenfryii was named after him, in honour of his contributions to the popularization of science as host of QI.[136]

Personal life[edit]

Fry married comedian Elliott Spencer in January 2015.[137] Fry is on cordial terms with Prince Charles, through his work with the Prince's Trust. He attended the Prince's wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles in 2005. Fry is a friend of 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. Fry was a friend of British actor John Mills.[138] His best friend is Hugh Laurie,[139] whom he met while both were at Cambridge and with whom he has collaborated many times over the years. He was best man at Laurie's wedding and is godfather to all three of his children.[140] Fry became a vegetarian in 2017,[141] having earlier expressed a desire to become so.[142]

A fan of cricket, Fry has stated that he is related to former England cricketer C.B. Fry,[143] and was interviewed for the Ashes Fever DVD, reporting on England's victory over Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. Regarding football, he is a supporter of Norwich City, and is a regular visitor to Carrow Road. He has been described as "deeply dippy for all things digital", claims to have bought the third Macintosh computer sold in the UK (his friend Douglas Adams bought the first two) and jokes that he has never encountered a smartphone that he has not bought.[144] 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 Wikipedia brings us all."[145]

Fry has a long-standing interest in Internet production, including having his own website since 1997. His current site, The New Adventures of Mr Stephen Fry, has existed since 2002 and has attracted many visitors following his first blog in September 2007, which comprised a 6,500-word "blessay" on smartphones. In February 2008, Fry launched his private podcast series, Stephen Fry's Podgrams (now discontinued), and a forum, including discussions on depression and activities in which Fry is involved. The website content is created by Fry and produced by Andrew Sampson. Fry's weekly gadget column Dork Talk appeared in The Guardian from November 2007 to October 2008.[144] Fry is also a supporter of GNU and the Free Software Foundation.[146] For the 25th anniversary of the GNU operating system, Fry appeared in a video explaining some of the philosophy behind GNU by likening it to the sharing found in science.[147] When in London, he drives a dark green TX4London cab.[148] This vehicle has been featured in Fry's production Stephen Fry in America.[149]

Sexuality[edit]

Stephen Fry visits Nightingale House, a care home in London, in December 2009

Documentary Description

Alan Davies attempts to answer the proverbial question: how long is a piece of string? But what appears to be a simple task soon turns into a mind-bending voyage of discovery where nothing is as it seems.

An encounter with leading mathematician Marcus du Sautoy reveals that Alan's short length of string may in fact be infinitely long. When Alan attempts to measure his string at the atomic scale, events take an even stranger turn. Not only do objects appear in many places at once, but reality itself seems to be an illusion.

Ultimately, Alan finds that measuring his piece of string could - in theory at least - create a black hole, bringing about the end of the world.

Chapters
1. Chapter 1
How Long is a Piece of String?: Introduction
Alan Davies discovers that answering that question is much harder than he originally thought.
2. Chapter 2
Different Types of Measurement
Alan visits mathematician Marcus du Sautoy to help him find an answer. However, this creates more questions, which requires a trip to a place dedicated to measurement, the National Physics Laboratory.
3. Chapter 3
Infinitely Long String
Finding out the exact length of the string proves even more troublesome when Marcus proposes the string could be infinitely long, thanks to the theory of fractals.
4. Chapter 4
A Physics Approach
After leaving Marcus, Alan visits a physics teacher to see if measuring the string in atoms can help him find an answer. However, this means exploring Quantum Mechanics.
5. Chapter 5
Two Places at Once
Alan goes to a lab to explore the theory of Quantum Mechanics in more detail to see if his string can be in two places at once, confusing him even further.
6. Chapter 6
Dead or Alive?
Still no closer to an answer Alan is introduced to the theory that his string may have multiples lengths at the same time, all with the help of a stuffed cat.
7. Chapter 7
Proving Quantum Mechanics Works
Alan doesn’t believe Quantum Mechanics is important on a basic scale, but photosynthesis and the ability to smell might just change his mind.
8. Chapter 8
End of the World
If Alan was to find the most accurate way of measuring his string he could theoretically create a black hole.
9. Chapter 9
Final Summary
Trying to find the solution to this question has been a philosophical journey for Alan, but he still visits Marcus du Sautoy to tell him his personal answer.
Source: BBC

How long is a piece of string?
Alan Davies leaves behind his role in the TV quiz show QI to explore the world of quantum mechanics for the BBC science programme Horizon. The stand-up comic admits to deliberately failing at physics so he wouldn't have to take the O-level. But after making a TV documentary, he says he now understands aspects of quantum mechanics.

"There is no point in my making the programme if I don't," he says. "They have to explain it again and again until I do understand." "They" are the physicists he meets in the programme - "I was always getting into trouble for calling them physicians instead of physicists," says Alan. "They showed me the aspects of quantum mechanics that are explicable."

Horizon set Alan what appeared to be a simple challenge. All he had to do was measure a piece of string. But the catch was he had to do it with absolute precision. And that turned into a mind-bending journey though the worlds of maths and physics, using quantum mechanics to try to work out where the individual atoms and particles that make up the string actually are.

Laser experiment
Quantum mechanics allows matter to behave as both particles and waves and to be in different places at the same time. Alan describes how this was demonstrated in a simple experiment using a laser and a special camera. A single wave of light, a photon, passes through two slits at the same time and creates an interference pattern.

"A photon... can't be split," says Alan "but it's clearly in two places at the same time which is very exciting". "I didn't understand that whole side of physics," he says. "The principle that light can be in two places at the same time is absolutely extraordinary".

But even if he accepts the idea now, he still finds it uncomfortable, which puts him "firmly in the Einstein Camp". That's what he was told by MIT professor of quantum physics Seth Lloyd. "It's the only time in my life that I'll be compared to Einstein," says the comedian, "unless my hair goes white and I comb it backwards." Alan's exploration of the complexities of sub-atomic physics in the programme involves playing the role of layperson, repeatedly posing the question, "How Long is a Piece of String?" of some of the world's top scientists?

"Scientists love that sort of question," says Alan, who claims to "thoroughly enjoy being told stuff. "I'm quite a curious person. I don't mind being the one who doesn't know things," he says, "a role I often play in QI."

But he admits his understanding of quantum mechanics is somewhat superficial. "It's like showing someone a microphone and expecting them to be a stand-up comic." "In the intervals waiting for a camera or the director, when you overhear them (the scientists) talking, their conversation may as well be in a different language."

But he is capable of dropping a reference to quantum computers into conversation.

"If you ask what will the world look like in the next century? These are the computers that are going to be changing the world. Seth builds them. I don't understand them."

As for his understanding of theoretical physics, "I liked the idea of all of humanity fitting inside a sugar cube because more than 99.9% of matter is space," he says.

"It's not QI. It's VI, very interesting."

Have his attitudes to science changed? "I'm more inclined to linger in the science pages of The Week magazine," he says, "But my principle obsessions are still watching sitcoms and football."

Alan Davies presents Horizon: How Long is a Piece of String at 9pm on Tue 17 Nov on BBC Two

Source: BBC News

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