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Stephen John Fry was born 24 August 1957 and is a British actor, writer, comedian, author, television presenter and film director. With Hugh Laurie, as the comedy double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and the duo also played the title roles in Jeeves and Wooster. Fry played the lead in the film Wilde, was Melchett in the Blackadder television series and is the host of the panel comedy trivia show, QI. He has also presented his 2008 television series Stephen Fry in America, which saw him travelling across all 50 U.S. states in six episodes. Recently Fry has become known to American audiences for his recurring guest role as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the Fox crime series Bones.
As well as his work in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines, and has written four novels and an autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot. 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 for I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, where he was one of a trio of hosts who succeeded the late Humphrey Lyttelton.
Fry was born in Hampstead, London, the son of Marianne Eve (nĂ©e Newman) and Alan John Fry, who was an English physicist and inventor. His maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann were Jewish immigrants from Ĺ urany, which is now in Slovakia, and his mother's aunt and cousins died in Auschwitz. Fry grew up in the village of Booton near Reepham, Norfolk, having moved from Chesham, Buckinghamshire at a young age.
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 Paston School.
At seventeen, after leaving Norfolk College of Arts and Technology, Fry absconded with a credit card stolen from a family friend, was arrested in Swindon, and as a result spent three months in Pucklechurch Prison for fraud.
Following his release he resumed education at City College Norwich, 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. It was at the Footlights that Fry met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie.
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, 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, Happy Families. In 1986 and 1987 Fry and Laurie also performed sketches on the LWT/Channel 4 show Saturday Live.
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 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 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 2000, Fry played the role of Professor Bellgrove in the BBC serial Gormenghast which was an adaptation of the first two novels of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast series.
In 2003, he began hosting QI, a 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. His six-part travel series Stephen Fry in America began on BBC One on 12 October 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 original programmes because of time constraints.
Fry has also been involved in nature documentaries, having narrated Spectacled Bears: Shadow of the Forest for the BBC Natural World series in 2008. He also embarked upon a series with zoologist Mark Carwardine in which the pair sought out endangered species, some of which were featured in Douglas Adams and Carwardine's 1990 book/radio series, Last Chance to See. The resulting programmes were broadcast in 2009.
From 2007 to 2009, Fry appeared in and was executive producer for the legal drama Kingdom, which ran for three series on ITV1.He has also taken up a recurring guest role as psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones.
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, which he later recorded for a podcast.
Fry also narrates the English language version of the Spanish children's animated series Pocoyo.
Having made his film debut 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 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 the same year he also appeared in the Dutch film The Discovery of Heaven, directed by Jeroen KrabbĂ© and based on the novel by Harry Mulisch.
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 in 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.
In 2008, he participated in a film celebrating the 25th anniversary of GNU, Happy Birthday to GNU. Fry was offered a role in Valkyrie but was unable to participate. Fry will be starring in the upcoming Tim Burton animated tale, Alice in Wonderland, as The Cheshire Cat, alongside Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway.
Fry struggled to keep his homosexuality secret during his teenage years at public school, and has claimed not to have engaged in sexual activity for sixteen years from 1979 until 1995. When asked when he first acknowledged his sexuality, Fry quipped: "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 going up one of those.'" Fry currently lives in London with his partner, Daniel Cohen, whom he met in 1995. He famously drives a black TX4 London cab. He also has a second home near King's Lynn, Norfolk.
Fry was an active supporter of the 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 (whom he considers to be his best friend ) 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 over 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.
Stephen has talked on occasion about his passion for whiskey. He visited the Woodford Reserve whiskey distillery in Kentucky, US in his BBC series Stephen Fry in America. Stephen cites his favorite whiskey as the Master of Malt 19 year old Tomatin.
He has been described as "deeply dippy for all things digital", claims to have owned the second Macintosh computer sold in the UK (the first going to Douglas Adams) and jokes that he has 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 Wikipedia brings us all."
Fry has a long interest in Internet production, including 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, and a forum, including discussions on depression and activities in which Fry is involved. The website content is created by Stephen Fry and produced by Andrew Sampson. Fry is also a supporter of GNU and the Free Software Foundation. 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. In October 2008, he began posting to his Twitter stream, which he regularly updates. 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."
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.
A year later, The Guardian published a letter from Fry addressing his younger self, explaining how his future is soon to unfold, reflecting on the positive progression towards gay acceptance and openness around him, and yet not everywhere, while warning on how "the cruel, hypocritical and loveless hand of religion and absolutism has fallen on the world once more".
Fry was among over one-hundred signatories to a statement published by Sense About Science on 4 June 2009, condemning British libel laws and their use to "severely curtail the right to free speech on a matter of public interest."
On October 6, 2009, Fry was interviewed by Jon Snow on Channel 4 News as a signatory of a letter to British Conservative Party leader David Cameron expressing concern about the party's relationship with the right-wing Polish Law and Justice Party in the European Parliament. During the interview, he stated:
There has been a history, let's face it, in Poland of a right-wing Catholicism which has been deeply disturbing for those of us who know a little history, and remember which side of the border Auschwitz was on, and know the stories, and know much of the anti-Semitic, and homophobic and nationalistic elements in countries like Poland.
The remark prompted a complaint from the Polish Embassy in London and criticism from British Jewish historian David Cesarani.