Julian Peter McDonald Clary (born 25 May 1959) is an English comedian and novelist. Openly gay, Clary began appearing on television in the mid-1980s and became known for his deliberately stereotypical camp style. Since then he has also acted in films, television and stage productions, and was the winner of Celebrity Big Brother 10 in 2012.
Early life and education
Clary was born in Surbiton, Surrey, to Brenda (née McDonald), a probation officer, and Peter J. Clary, a policeman. He was brought up in Teddington with two older sisters. By his own account, he was conceived "in broad daylight" in Clacton-on-Sea in 1958. Two of his great-grandparents were Germans who immigrated to Britain at the end of the 19th century. He was raised a Catholic and educated at St Benedict's School, Ealing. He later studied English and drama at Goldsmiths' College, University of London.
Clary began his career under the name Leo Hurll, a fake keyboardist for pop band Thinkman (a recording project conceived by Rupert Hine). He entered the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s, first under the alias "Gillian Pieface", and later as "The Joan Collins Fanclub". He wore heavy glam make-up and dressed in outrageous clothes, often involving leather/PVC and hinting at bondage. His pet dog "Fanny the Wonder Dog", a whippet, also featured in performances.
Since then, Clary has undertaken several successful tours of his stage act, four of which have been released on home video, including The Mincing Machine Tour (1989), My Glittering Passage (1993), Lord of the Mince (2011), and Position Vacant: Apply Within, which ran throughout the autumn of 2012 and between April and June 2013. In April 2014 he took the show to Australia and New Zealand.
Clary's latest tour is titled The Joy of Mincing, and will tour the UK in 2016.
He was named as the Ambassador for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe comedy festival, responsible for promoting the festival internationally.
After a number of appearances on Friday Night Live in the mid-late 1980s, Clary co-hosted the short-lived ITV game show Trick or Treat in 1989 with Mike Smith, before achieving greater success later that year with his own high-camp Channel 4 gameshow, Sticky Moments with Julian Clary. More a vehicle for his brand of humour than a genuine gameshow, Sticky Moments was a light-hearted "non-quiz" satire, with him often awarding points because he liked the contestants, rather than because they possessed a particular skill or aptitude. He later starred in the 1992 audience participation sitcom Terry and Julian with Lee Simpson, again for Channel 4. His next series was the BBC's studio-based All Rise for Julian Clary in 1996, in which he played a judge in a mock courtroom setting.
In 1992, he played a cameo guest star part in the BBC drama, Virtual Murder. In his episode, "A Dream of Dracula", he played an undertaker, alongside other guest stars including Alfred Marks, Jill Gascoine, Ronald Fraser and Peggy Mount. He also appeared in an episode of the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?
In 1993, he made an infamous appearance at the British Comedy Awards where he made a joke comparing the set to Hampstead Heath (a famed London cruising area for gay men) and stated that he had just been fisting the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont. Although the joke was met with uproarious laughter from the audience, he was criticised in some newspapers, including the Daily Mail and The Sun, who launched an unsuccessful campaign to have him banned from television.
From 1998 to 2001, he hosted three series of the Sky TV show Prickly Heat, the first two series with Davina McCall, the last one with Denise van Outen. Additionally, from 1999 to 2002 he was the face of Daz laundry detergent, taking over from Shane Richie, Michael Barrymore and Danny Baker. He is a recurring performer and one of the most popular performers in the ITV Pantos. He played 'The 1st Henchman' & 'Tim' in 1998's Jack and The Beanstalk; 'The Good Fairy' in 2000's Cinderella; 'The Genie of the Lamp' in 2000's Aladdin; and, possibly his most favourite character, 'Chris the Cat' in 2002's Dick Whittington. In 1999, he became a team captain on the quiz show It's Only TV...but I Like It along with Phill Jupitus and Jonathan Ross. In 2003, he presented the first series of the Japanese TV clip show, Sushi TV for Challenge. In 2004, he took part in the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, finishing third with his partner Erin Boag. In 2005, he hosted Come and Have A Go for the National Lottery.
On 1 February 2006, he appeared on the BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are?, a genealogy series which traced his ancestors to a World War I flight engineer and German immigrants among both his mother's and father's forebears. In May 2006, and again in April 2008, he hosted an episode of the topical quiz show Have I Got News for You.
In September 2006, he returned to primetime TV as presenter and judge on Channel 5's brand new celebrity performance programme The All Star Talent Show. He was joined by two guest judges every week to assess celebrity performances and co-presented with Myleene Klass and Andi Peters. He also narrated the Channel 5 children's series The Little Princess with Jane Horrocks.
In November 2006, he joined the panel of QI, a panel game/comedy show hosted by Stephen Fry and also appeared on an episode of The New Paul O'Grady Show.
In 2007, he made a cameo appearance in the Australian soap opera, Neighbours, in scenes filmed in London with Natalie Bassingthwaighte.
From 20 March 2007, Clary presented a brand-new show for the BBC called The Underdog Show. Celebrities and children were paired up with rescue dogs. They then commenced training and competed against each other in obedience and agility trials in a live arena. The show ran until 26 April 2007.
He also appeared on television regularly in 2008, starting in January when he was drafted in as a relief presenter for This Morning, co-presenting alongside Fern Britton and Ruth Langsford during Phillip Schofield's absence. In April, he once again fronted the BBC One series Have I Got News for You, and he filmed an episode of Celebrity Bargain Hunt in May. He was also a short-notice guest on The Paul O'Grady Show in October 2008, after Peter Andre and Katie Price couldn't appear (Clary and O'Grady are friends and neighbours).
In 2012, Clary was one of the contestants in Celebrity Big Brother 10 and went on to win the series. In 2013, he was a judge on the ITV entertainment series Your Face Sounds Familiar, alongside Emma Bunton.
Clary appeared on Piers Morgan's Life Stories in October 2013, where he revealed he had once considered having a child with a female friend. He also discussed how he had contemplated suicide after the death of his partner from AIDS.
In March 2015, it was announced that Clary would take part in ITV's Give a Pet a Home show which works alongside the RSPCA in Birmingham. The series began airing on 15 April 2015 for six episodes.
From 1 August 2015, Clary presented Nature Nuts with Julian Clary, a new three-part nature show for ITV.
Clary played Leigh Bowery in the West End of London musical Taboo in 2002. He also took part in the touring production in 2004.
In Spring 2007, Clary did a theatre tour of the UK with his show An Evening with... Julian Clary. From 2 October 2007, he played the much coveted role of 'Emcee', in Rufus Norris's Olivier Award-winning production of Cabaret, which was in its second year in the West End. Clary was with the show until 19 April 2008. The following year he took part in the Strictly Come Dancing Tour in January and February 2009. He was partnered with Lilia Kopylova.
Clary starred as Dandini in the pantomime Cinderella at The Hawth Theatre in Crawley, West Sussex between December 2009 and January 2010. The following season, he co-starred alongside Joan Collins and Nigel Havers in the pantomime Dick Whittington at the Birmingham Hippodrome from December 2010 to January 2011. Ironically, Collins had issued a cease and desist order to prevent Clary using her name in his comedy stage act in the 1980s, however, the two have since become good friends.
From 19 December 2015 until 31 January 2016, Clary appeared as The Spirit of the Ring in Aladdin at the Birmingham Hippodrome, alongside Marti Pellow and Lee Mead.
Clary appeared in the film Carry On Columbus (1992), an unsuccessful attempt to revive the "Carry On" series of films. It was widely panned by critics, but was more financially profitable than the two other Columbus films released the same year: 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.
Clary returned to film in 2001 in the film The Baby Juice Express which starred Lisa Faulkner, Samantha Womack, Ruth Jones and David Seaman, about a prisoner who is desperate to find some way of conceiving with his wife whilst he is in prison, but the sperm ends up getting hijacked. It was released on DVD in 2004.
Clary appeared on The Big Fun Show in 1988.
In 1992 Clary hosted a radio show for the BBC called Intimate Contact, the premise of which was for him to act as a genial 'Mr Fix-it' for a wide range of 'punter' problems. Clary attempted to solve these issues over the telephone, with the assistance of roving reporter "Hugh Jelly" (actor Philip Herbert). It originally aired on BBC Radio 1 for two series; the pilot and 6-part first series have since been repeated on BBC Radio 7 a number of times.
He has also often been a guest on Just a Minute, the BBC Radio 4 comedy show.
Clary has released two large format comedy books: My Life With Fanny The Wonder Dog (1989) and How To Be A Man (1992).
Between 2005 and 2008, Clary wrote a fortnightly column for the New Statesman magazine. He has also published an autobiography, A Young Man's Passage, which covers his life and career up to the 1993 "Norman Lamont incident" at the British Comedy Awards (see above). In 2007, Clary released his first novel, Murder Most Fab, published by Ebury Press. His second novel, Devil in Disguise, was published in 2009. His first book for children, The Bolds, was published by Anderson Press in 2015. A sequel, entitled The Bolds to the Rescue, was published in March 2016.
- Clary, Julian (7 April 2005). A Young Man's Passage. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-190872-0.
- Clary, Julian (16 August 2007). Murder Most Fab. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-191449-3.
- Clary, Julian (7 May 2009). Devil in Disguise. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-192733-2.
- Clary, Julian (29 March 2012). Briefs Encountered. Ebury Press. ISBN 978-0-09-193883-3.
- Clary, Julian (30 July 2015). The Bolds. Anderson Press. ISBN 978-1783443055.
- Clary, Julian (3 March 2016). The Bolds to the Rescue. Anderson Press. ISBN 978-1783443802.
Clary often performs comical renditions of musical numbers in his stage and television appearances, ranging from old classics to original material. He released a music single in 1988 (credited as the Joan Collins Fan Club), a humorous rendition of "Leader of the Pack", which he often performed in his stage and television appearances at the time. The single was produced by Rupert Hine and reached no.60 in the UK Singles Chart.
Another single, "Wandrin' Star", was released in 1990. The single was backed with the self-penned track "Uncanny and Unnatural".
He is married to Ian Mackley - the pair have been a couple since 2005, and were married on 19 November 2016. They live in Aldington, Kent, at Goldenhurst Farm, a 17th-century manor house once owned by Noël Coward.
On 7 September 2005, University of London's Goldsmiths College made Clary an Honorary Fellow. In July 2014, University of East Anglia awarded Clary an honorary Doctor of Civil Law.
Stand-up VHS and DVD
- The Mincing Machine Tour (1989)
- My Glittering Passage (1993)
- Live – Lord of the Mince (2010)