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Bryan Murray received IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award
14 Dec 2023 : Nathan Griffin
Bryan Murray and wife Una with his IFTA Lifetime Award.
The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) presented Bryan Murray with the Irish Academy Lifetime Achievement Award last night (Wednesday, 13th December) at a special Reception at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin.

Bryan was emotional as he graciously accepted his Award, while surrounded by both his own family and onscreen family from Fair City as well as friends, and IFTA Academy Members. Among the guests on the night were Fair City cast including Bryan’s partner Una Crawford O’Brien and co-stars Aisling O’Neill, Carrie Crowley, Sorcha Furlong, Rebecca Grimes, Enda Oates, Martina Stanley, Maria Oxley Boardman, Neili Conroy, George McMahon, Una Kavanagh, Hilda Fay, Amy Kirwan, Matthew O’Brien, Steve Gunn, Rachel Wren, and Roxana Nic Liam.

On stage, Bryan spoke with Áine Moriarty about how privileged he feels to work as an actor, and especially with such great people. They talked about how he cut his teeth acting alongside big name actors such as Peter O’Toole, Cyril Cusack, Donal McCann, and David Kelly in Strumpet City.  Bryan recalled working with Cyril Cusack, and said he was the one who encouraged him to move to the UK for work, where he performed on stage with the National Theatre in London. He laughed and said he wound up staying in London for longer than planned but loved his time there.  Áine spoke about Bryan’s UK work referencing his famous role in the Channel 4 TV series Brookside back in 1993, playing Anna Friel’s father, the villain Trevor Jordache, and Bryan joked about how he has always enjoyed playing the baddie. 

Áine commended Bryan and his partner Úna Crawford for being so brave in speaking about his Alzheimer’s, as the illness affects so many families in Ireland today.  Seeing someone like Bryan work through the difficulties and the setbacks, and finding ways to continue working for as long as he can, is so inspiring for people.  Úna spoke about when she and Brian began working together, becoming good friends and then falling in love. She spoke of how impressed she was when working with him: “He just looks at a script and he sees what I certainly wouldn't see - he just gets into the character. And I love him for it.”

On receiving the award:

Bryan Murray said:  “I cannot begin to tell you how honoured I feel to be getting this award and to see everybody here tonight.  I’ve always just loved what I do as an actor.

Áine Moriarty, Chief Executive of IFTA, said: “We can feel the love for Bryan in this room here tonight. Bryan's unwavering dedication to his craft and the profound richness of his contribution across television, film, and theatre is truly exceptional”. 

Those that paid tribute to Bryan on the night were:

RTÉ’s Brigie de Courcy, Executive Producer of Fair City said: “Brian is an extraordinary actor and he's somebody that I will say to the new young actors coming in, just watch him, because he's the person who can absolutely fill the screen.  He’s also not afraid to be the villain, he's not afraid to be loathed; he's not afraid to be loved, he will absolutely turn on a sixpence to achieve that character”.

Enda Oates, Fair City Actor said: “Bryan is a perfect example of somebody who achieved international success, and while there have been actors from my generation who have done it as well, they did it on the backs of great actors like Brian Murray.”

Anna Friel, Actor, spoke on screen to Bryan saying: “You are one of the most lovely, kind men I've ever worked with. You were so patient with me - I was a mere 16 year old on Brookside, and the whole set was filled with excitement to hear it was you who was coming to play Trevor.  Even when you're playing a baddie, and the baddest of the baddest, you still were able to make that character likeable, and you brought so much joy to set every day.  I send lots and lots and lots of love to you all”... as she blew kisses to Bryan through the screen.

Martina Stanley, Fair City actor said: “You just always have carried this wonderful positive energy, and you're full of creative drive, and you have so many ideas. I just always thought you were wonderful and very inspirational for me as an actress. And to continue working, losing your memory as an actor, it's only somebody with enormous courage who could do that. No matter what the slings and arrows, throw at you - you bounce back with a hey ho Here we go. I am so delighted for you Bryan. This is the most wonderful accolade for an incredible actor and human being”.

Giles Watley, from the TV series BREAD, said: “We had some great times together when we were filming the BBC sitcom BREAD all those years ago. You're an incredibly talented actor, one of the most talented I've ever worked with. And your attention to detail is amazing, but also warm and generous in performance and in personality.  Congratulations on receiving this award.”

Una Kavanagh, Actor said: “Brian you have changed the air about what an artist and an actor can be in this country, you open doors and look through windows, to find new ways of expression to show the diversity of your craft from television and film to, of course, the stage but also your documentaries, you have inspired us all”.

From stage to screen performances, Bryan is one of the most respected actors in Ireland, with an illustrious career that spans over five decades. A native of Dublin, he is a household name for his long-running role as Bob Charles on the hugely popular RTE soap Fair City, and for an impressive body of work in film, television and theatre.

From Flurry Knox in The Irish R.M. to Trevor Jordache in British drama Brookside, his performances have entertained and resonated with audiences across the decades. Other roles have included Fitz in Strumpet City, and Harry Cassidy in Perfect Scoundrels.

In film, he has appeared in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The Disturbance at Dinner, Boy Eats Girl, Vita & Virginia, and The Professor and the Madman. As a television presenter, he has hosted shows like Encore and The Tenements, which garnered critical acclaim and an IFTA nomination. He has worked alongside Irish and international actors over the years, including Judi Dench, Peter O’Toole, Rita Tushingham, Anna Friel, John Gielgud, David Kelly, and Sean Penn among others.

Bryan’s career began at the Abbey Theatre, where he has graced the stage in more than 50 productions, and his stage career has also included stints at London's Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Bryan has been widely praised in recent years for his candid public speaking on his diagnosis of Alzheimers, while continuing to give fantastic performances four nights a week in Fair City, in which he stars alongside his off-screen wife Una Crawford O’Brien.

He has been praised for his performance at the Abbey theatre on An Old Song, Half Forgotten, a groundbreaking play by playwright Deirdre Kinahan.  This poignant production unveils the journey of an elderly artist in care, ingeniously created for Bryan to return to the stage despite the memory-loss challenges of Alzheimer's. Kinahan's work provided a platform for Bryan to showcase his enduring talent, transcending the limitations of his condition.





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