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Fry in Happy Birthday to GNU (2008)
|Born||Stephen John Fry|
24 August 1957
|Alma mater||Queens' College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director|
President of Mind (2011–present)
|Partner(s)||Daniel Cohen (1995–2010)|
|Parents||Alan John Fry|
Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman)
Fry in Happy Birthday to GNU (2008)
|Born||Stephen John Fry|
24 August 1957
|Alma mater||Queens' College, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster, film director|
President of Mind (2011–present)
|Partner(s)||Daniel Cohen (1995–2010)|
|Parents||Alan John Fry|
Marianne Eve Fry (née Newman)
Stephen John Fry (born 24 August 1957) is an English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist.
After a troubled childhood and adolescence, during which he was expelled from two schools and spent three months in prison for credit card fraud, he secured a place at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied English literature. While at university, Fry became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in 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 mental illness. He is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI.
Besides working in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines and written four novels and two volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot and The Fry Chronicles. 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 is also known for his voice-overs, reading all seven of the Harry Potter novels for the UK audiobook recordings, and narrating the LittleBigPlanet and Birds of Steel series of video games, as well as an animated series of explanations of the laws of cricket.
Fry's mother was Jewish, and his maternal grandparents, Martin and Rosa Neumann, were Hungarian Jews, who emigrated to Britain in 1927; Martin's parents, who originally lived in Vienna, Austria, were sent to a concentration camp in Riga, Latvia and murdered. His mother's aunt and cousins were sent to Auschwitz and never seen again. Fry's father is English, and his paternal grandmother had roots in Kent and Cheshire.
Fry briefly attended Cawston Primary School in Cawston, Norfolk, 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". 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. 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. 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.
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 Cambridge Footlights, appeared on University Challenge, and read for a degree in English literature, graduating with upper second-class honours. Fry also met his future comedy collaborator Hugh Laurie at Cambridge and starred alongside him in the Footlights Club.
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 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 series, Happy Families. 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 the 1988 television special Blackadder's Christmas Carol, he played the roles of Lord Melchett and Lord Frondo.
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. He appeared as the Christian God in 2011's Holy Flying Circus.
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 adaption of Mary Norton's 1952 novel The Borrowers.
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. He has also taken up a recurring guest role as psychiatrist Dr. Gordon Wyatt in the popular American drama Bones.
Fry's first documentary was the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive in 2006. The same year, he appeared in the genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?, tracing his maternal family tree to investigate his Jewish ancestry. Fry narrated The Story of Light Entertainment, which was shown from July–September 2006. In 2007, he presented a documentary on the subject of HIV and AIDS, HIV and Me.
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. In the same year, he narrated the nature documentaries Spectacled 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.
In August 2011, Stephen Fry's 100 Greatest Gadgets was shown on Channel 4 as one of the 100 Greatest strand. His choice for the greatest gadget was the cigarette lighter, which he described as "fire with a flick of the fingers". In the same month, the nature documentary series Ocean Giants, narrated by Fry, premièred.
At the 2012 Pride of Britain Awards, broadcast 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 heroes.
In October 2013, Fry presented Stephen Fry: 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.
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.
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). In 2006, Fry won the Rose d'Or award for "Best Game Show Host" for his work on the series.
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. 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 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. They 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". 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.
Fry was offered a role in Valkyrie, but was unable to participate. Fry starred in the Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland, as the voice of the Cheshire Cat. He played Mycroft Holmes in the sequel to Sherlock Holmes, directed by Guy Ritchie. 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 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, the second part of the film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit.
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 Tony Blair as part of a series of podcasts released by 10 Downing Street.
In February 2008, Fry began presenting podcasts entitled Stephen Fry's Podgrams, in which he recounts his life and recent experiences. 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.
Fry wrote the play Latin! or Tobacco and Boys for the 1980 Edinburgh Festival, where it won the Fringe first prize. It had a revival in 2009 at London's Cock Tavern Theatre, directed by Adam Spreadbury-Maher. 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. 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.
Fry is a long-standing fan of the anarchic 1960s 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.
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. He received excellent reviews. The production is transferring to Broadway, with previews beginning 15 October 2013, and Opening Night scheduled for 10 November 2013.
Fry has been the reader for the British versions of all of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series of audio books. He discussed this project in an interview with J. K. Rowling in 2005. He has also been the reader for Douglas Adams's 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 and Anthony Buckeridge. Stephen Fry has recorded an audiobook of Eugene Onegin, a famous Russian novel in verse written by Alexander Pushkin, which is available as a free download.
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 Sackboy's story in the crossover fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
He also narrated LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita and LittleBigPlanet Karting, and the first four Harry Potter games: (Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Goblet of Fire).
Fry has lent himself and his voice to many advertisements, starting with an appearance as "Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar" in a 1982 advert for Whitbread Best 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, After Eights, Trebor, Panama cigars, Virgin Media and Orange Mobile.
Since the publication of his first novel, The Liar (1991), Fry has written three further novels, several non-fiction works and two 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 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.
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. After its release, it reached No. 1 on the UK Album Chart list.
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".
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." In February 2014 Stephen Fry became the honorary president of Proud Canaries, a new club for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender fans.
In October 2008, Fry began posting to the social networking site Twitter, 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."
Fry wields a considerable amount of influence through his use of Twitter. 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." He uses his influence to recommend underexposed musicians and authors (who often see large increases in web hits and sales) and to raise awareness of contemporary issues in the world of media and politics, notably the dropping of an injunction against The Guardian and the lambasting of Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir over her article on the death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately.
In October 2009, Fry again sparked debate amongst users, when he announced his intention to leave the social networking site after criticism from another user on Twitter. However, he retracted the announcement the following day. 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". In some quarters, the general methods Fry uses on Twitter have been criticised.
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'. In November 2010, he welcomed his two-millionth follower with a blog entry detailing his opinions and experiences of Twitter. 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".
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. 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. He was awarded the AoC Gold Award in 2004, and was entered into their Hall of Fame. Fry was also awarded an honorary degree from Anglia Ruskin University in 2005. He was made honorary president of the Cambridge University Quiz Society and honorary fellow of his alma mater Queens' College, Cambridge. On 13 July 2010, he was made an honorary fellow of Cardiff University, 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.
He is a Patron of the Norwich Playhouse theatre and a Vice President of The Noël Coward Society. Fry was the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year before the award was discontinued.
In December 2006, he was ranked sixth for the BBC's Top Living Icon Award, 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. Later the same month, he was announced as the 2007 Mind Champion of the Year, 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. 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". He was also granted a lifetime achievement award at the British Comedy Awards on 5 December 2007, and the Special Recognition Award at the National Television Awards on 20 January 2010.
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. 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. 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.
In 2012, Fry wrote the foreword to the Union of UEA Students report on the student experience for LGBT+ members. 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.
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 Prince of Wales's and Camilla Parker Bowles' wedding 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. His best friend is Hugh Laurie, 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.
A fan of cricket, Fry has claimed to be related to former England cricketer C.B. Fry, 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. 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-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, 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. Stephen Fry's weekly gadget column Dork Talk appeared in The Guardian from November 2007 to October 2008. 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.
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 was in a 15-year relationship with Daniel Cohen, which ended in 2010.
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. 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 praise of the Blair/Brown government's work on social reform, Fry has been critical of the Labour Party's "Third Way" concept. Fry appeared in literature to support changing the British electoral system from first-past-the-post to alternative vote for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons in the Alternative Vote referendum in 2011.
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. Furthermore, he is a signatory member of the British Jews for Justice for Palestinians organisation, which campaigns for Palestinian rights. Fry was among over 100 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 7 August 2013, Fry published an "Open Letter to David Cameron and the IOC" calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, due to concerns over the state-sanctioned persecution of LGBT persons in Russia. David Cameron however stated on Twitter he believed "we can better challenge prejudice as we attend, rather than boycotting the Winter Olympics". Adrian Hilton, writing in the Daily Mail, criticised Fry for not calling for a boycott of all Russian performing arts. Fry responded by accusing the Daily Mail of being "against progress, the liberalising of attitudes, modern art and strangers (whether by race, gender or sexuality)".
In March 2014, Fry publicly backed "Hacked Off" and its campaign towards press self-regulation by "safeguarding the press from political interference while also giving vital protection to the vulnerable."
On 6 October 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 Poland's opposition national conservative 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, an editorial in The Economist and criticism from British Jewish historian David Cesarani. Fry has since posted an apology in a six-page post on his personal blog, in which he stated:
I offer no excuse. I seemed to imply that the Polish people had been responsible for the most infamous of all the death factories of the Third Reich. I didn't even really at the time notice the import of what I had said, so gave myself no opportunity instantly to retract the statement. It was a rubbishy, cheap and offensive remark that I have been regretting ever since. I take this opportunity to apologise now. I said a stupid, thoughtless and fatuous thing. It detracted from and devalued my argument, such as it was, and it outraged and offended a large group of people for no very good reason. I am sorry in all directions, and all the more sorry because it is no one's fault but my own, which always makes it so much worse.
Fry has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, specifically stating he suffers from cyclothymia, referring to it as "bipolar lite". He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1995 while appearing in a West End play called Cell Mates and subsequently walked out of the production, prompting its early closure and incurring the displeasure of co-star Rik Mayall and playwright Simon Gray. Mayall's comedy partner, Adrian Edmondson, made light of the subject in his and Mayall's second Bottom live show. After walking out of the production, Fry went missing for several days while contemplating suicide. He abandoned the idea and left the United Kingdom by ferry, eventually resurfacing in Belgium.
Fry has spoken publicly about his experience with bipolar disorder, which was depicted in the documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. In the programme, he interviewed other sufferers of the illness including Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss and Tony Slattery. He is involved with the mental health charity Stand to Reason and is president of Mind.
Fry has attempted suicide on a number of occasions, most recently in 2012. In an interview with Richard Herring in 2013, Fry revealed that he had attempted suicide the previous year while filming abroad. He said that he took a "huge number of pills and a huge [amount] of vodka" and had to be brought back to the UK to be "looked after".
In January 2008, Fry broke his arm while filming Last Chance to See in Brazil. He later explained in a podcast how the accident happened: while climbing aboard a boat, he slipped between it and the dock, and, while stopping himself from falling into the water, his body weight caused his right humerus to snap. The damage was more severe than first thought: The resulting vulnerability to his radial nerve – he was at risk of losing the use of his arm – was not diagnosed until he saw a consultant in the UK.
Appearing on Top Gear in 2009, Fry had lost a significant amount of weight, prompting host Jeremy Clarkson to ask jokingly, "Where's the rest of you?" Fry explained that he had shed a total of 6 stone (84 lb; 38 kg), attributing the weight loss to doing a lot of walking while listening to downloaded audiobooks. Fry is between 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) in height.
In 2013 he revealed that, in the previous year, he had started taking medication for the first time, in an attempt to control his bi-polar condition.
Fry has repeatedly expressed opposition to organised religion, and has identified himself as an atheist and humanist, while declaring some sympathy for the ancient Greek belief in capricious gods. In his first autobiography he wrote, "I knew I couldn't believe in God, because I was fundamentally Hellenic in my outlook". He has stated that religion can have positive effects: "Sometimes belief means credulity, sometimes an expression of faith and hope which even the most sceptical atheist such as myself cannot but find inspiring".
In 2009, 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." Later that year, he and Christopher Hitchens participated in an "Intelligence Squared" debate in which they argued against Ann Widdecombe and Archbishop John Onaiyekan, who supported the view that the Catholic Church was a force for good. Fry and Hitchens argued that the church did more harm than good. Fry attacked the Catholic Church's teachings on sexuality and denounced its wealth.
In 2010 he was made a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association, stating: "it is essential to nail one’s colours to the mast as a humanist." Later that year, Fry, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom being a state visit. On 22 February 2011, Fry was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.
In 2008, Fry formed SamFry Ltd, with long-term collaborator Andrew Sampson, to produce and fund new material, as well as manage his official website.
Fry uses Ubuntu as his Desktop operating system. In 2008 he appeared in a film made by the Free Software Foundation to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the GNU Project to create a completely free (libre) operating system. In the film Fry explains the principles of software freedom central to the development of the Linux and GNU software projects.
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Paul Henderson Scott
|Rector of the University of Dundee|