Succession: Is the Roy family based on the Murdoch dynasty?

The HBO comedy-drama is back with its third season – but does it draw inspiration from any real-life media moguls? Here's everything you need to know.

Logan Roy/Rupert Murdoch

HBO’s Succession is finally back with its highly-anticipated third season, with the dysfunctional Roy family bringing all the drama as Logan and the former heir apparent to his media conglomerate Kendall going head to head in a bitter fight for power.

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With Jeremy Strong (Kendall) and Brian Cox (Logan) leading the Succession cast, the ongoing series is already proving to be a terrific bit of television thanks to last night’s episode – however, it has also had fans wondering whether the media mogul Roys are based on a real-life media dynasty.

Since Succession has been on the air, comparisons have been drawn between Logan Roy and Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch – the head of News Corp, owning newspapers like The Sun, The Times, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post, and the former owner of Sky, 21st Century Fox and the News of the World.

But are the Roys inspired by the Murdochs? And if not, who are they based on? Read on for everything you need to know.

Is Succession based on Rupert Murdoch’s family?

Brian Cox as Logan Roy
Brian Cox as Logan Roy
HBO

The Roy family certainly share a number of similarities with the Murdochs, given that both patriarchs are media tycoons in their 80s and 90s, with children from multiple marriages, most of whom are involved in the family business.

There are thought to be particular similarities between Murdoch’s children – Lachlan, James, Elisabeth and Prudence – and Logan Roy’s ambitious kids Kendall (Jeremy Strong), Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin) and Connor (Alan Ruck).

However, Succession creator Jesse Armstrong has said that the Murdochs aren’t the only inspiration behind the Roys and that he borrows from other media mogul families like the Redstones and the Mercers.

“The amazing thing about this stuff is that it’s everywhere. Sumner Redstone’s family. The Mercers. The Murdochs. Conrad Black. Sometimes people have said, it’s really about these people, isn’t it? It’s based on them. And: No,” he told The New York Times back in 2019.

“We read widely and we do take elements of stuff. Hopefully, if you’re writing in the right area, you end up hitting reality. But there are no moles.”

More recently, Brian Cox, who plays Logan Roy in the show, reiterated this point to Radio Times magazine when asked whether he based his character on Murdoch or even the late Robert Maxwell, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Silvio Berlusconi.

Rupert Murdoch and his children, James Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch and his children, James Murdoch, Elisabeth Murdoch and Lachlan Murdoch
Getty

“There are bits of all of them in Logan,” he said. “But also the family have increasingly become their own thing. And, actually, one of the reasons I like Logan is that he would never do what f***ing Branson or Musk or Bezos did: ‘Let’s go up in the sky because we need more spaceships.’ No, we don’t need more spaceships. What is happening to the planet that we need more rubble up in the sky? We don’t need to go into space. Where’s their head, their sense of proportion, their living in the real world?”

Some viewers have even considered the Roys to be a parody of former president Donald Trump and his family, especially considering in season two we see Connor decide to run for president despite having no qualifications or political experience.

When asked whether Cox drew some inspiration from Donald Trump, he said: “Yes, he’s in there. But Trump is essentially a man with a bad script and Logan is a man with a good script.”

So, to answer your question, Logan Roy and his children are based slightly on Rupert Murdoch and his family, but they’re also inspired by a number of other real-life media tycoons and powerful families, from newspaper magnate Conrad Black to the late Viacom founder Sumner Redstone.

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Succession airs on HBO in the USA and Sky Atlanticand NOW TV in the UK and you can buy the DVD at Amazon – if you want more info on the new series, you can read our Succession season 3 review.

If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide and visit our Drama hub for more news and features.