I first met ‘Uncle Doug’ in either late 1982 or early 1983, when my company, Leyland Australia, leased a suite in the Triple M tower in fashionable Bondi Junction, in Sydney’s east, to house our PR department for me and my staff of two.
One morning I was parking one of the Jaguar road test cars in the basement garage, when a guy came up to me wearing a Triple M FM t-shirt. He said: “I work with one of the DJs on Triple M who loves Jags, do you want to meet him?”
“Sure, bring him down to our office on the 22nd floor anytime.” The very next day, this very loud, long-haired individual wearing over-sized ‘granny glasses’ burst through the door shouting: “Where is he, where is he? This man from Jaguar.”
My secretary took fright, but then recognised Doug Mulray, who was taking the Sydney breakfast radio scene by storm with his hilarious antics, jokes, piss-takes and completely irreverent humour. Sydney loved him, and soon after Doug and his team totally dominated breakfast radio. He also became a regular visitor to our office around 9:30. He was usually totally exhausted after all the energy he contributed to his show.
Doug was in fact a Jaguar tragic, and later that year prevailed upon me to find him a sales slot for a Series III Jaguar V12 sedan with a five-speed manual gearbox. We were having a few quality problems with the Series III, so I tried to gently dissuade him.
“Never mind, he said. “I know the PR guy from Jaguar, so if anything goes wrong, I’ll call him.” Oh, great I thought, this is going to end in tears.
What it did lead to was a fabulous 32-year friendship with lots of laughs, great times and good lunches. Doug’s companion (partner in crime) was Lizzie Muir, the sister of famous radio identity and programmer, Rod Muir, who got Triple M rolling.
Lizzie contributed not only to the laughs, but occasionally played a great straight man to Doug when he was taking the piss out of some pompous twit.
Doug and Miss Lizzie invited us to stay with them at their beautiful spread in Bilpin, about 90km west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains. The property was anchored by a majestic, stone, convict-built cottage set in a beautiful apple farm.
However, the property was often threatened by bushfires, so I was always calling Doug to ensure the property was safe. Magically, the house and outbuildings were never threatened by fire. In the end the conversations went like this - Me: "It's JC Dougie." Doug: "It's okay JC, no worries, now piss off."
Once we agreed to a short tour of the Blue Mountains. I took along one of the then-new Jaguar F-type roadsters, and Doug and Lizzie joined my wife Yvonne and I in their Aston Martin DB9 Volante for a very enjoyable drive along Bell’s Line-of-Roads, swapping cars.
We took a pit stop at one of Doug’s favourite local restaurants where we paused for a long lunch. The girls drove back to cottage. My wife's sense of humour was on the same wavelength as Doug's and they got along famously.
Doug and Lizzie also owned a beautiful penthouse apartment on one of the old, reclaimed industrial wharves on Sydney’s harbourside.
After leaving radio, Doug and Lizzie settled down to a quiet, private life, and about the only thing that could tempt Doug to leave his guitars and his stereo, was a trip on Sydney harbour on his classic catamaran.
They visited us on the Gold Coast in 2013 for some of Yvonne's famous fruitcake, and were in great spirits.
The last time I saw Doug was in 2015, but we kept in touch by phone. I’m thrilled to have enjoyed such a long, respectful and affectionate friendship with Doug and Lizzie over so many years. He brought smiles to everyone he met, and entertained millions with his sharp wit, pungent humour, and completely irreverent style. His Sydney audiences loved him, as did I.
Doug Mulray, R.I.P. Thanks for all the laughs and good times. Yvonne and I send love and condolences to Lizzie – the love of his life, and to James, Tom and Rosie.
John I was was thinking about you when I saw the news about Doug's passing. I am not sure you'd remember me, I was a Financial Analyst with JRA at Moorebank, and for 12 months or so before I moved into Bus & Coach I was supporting you with Cost Centre Management for the PR cost centre. A few times you arranged for me to borrow press cars for a night or a weekend when they were sitting still and out at the workshop at Moorebank. I stumbled on your blog when I googled Doug Mulray and Jaguar. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a few of them and reminiscing about JRA. After JRA I went to Mazda for 5 years, then into multi franchised dealerships for a few years, before switching paths and becoming a Biotech and Medical Devices CFO. I remain a car enthusiast and now have a perfect condition Launch Edition 2005 NC MX-5, which I note you consider a "real sportscar, no doubt about it". I am about to make mine an even better real sports car by adding a BBR225 kit from the UK, making it a bit more british in a good way with ITBs, a cam, headers, large bore exhaust, and ECM tune. It keeps it naturally aspirated, gives it a big throaty roar, and adds about 50% more power, which the MX5 chassis is more than able to cope with. BBR make very much OEM type quality kits. Anyway, I loved your blog, and join you in mourning the passing of a great man. I get the impression you live on the Gold Coast now, is that right? I live on Bribie Island, and am the Brisbane Chapter Leader for the MX-5 Club of Queensland. I often have an empty passenger seat on club runs. It would be a delight to have you along one day.ReplyDelete
Ura P (Phillip) Auckland