Alistair McGowan.

Alistair McGowan

Alistair McGowan is a comedy actor, writer, singer, and impressionist best known across Britain for The Big Impression (formerly Alistair McGowan's Big Impression), which was one of BBC One's highest-rated television programmes in the Noughties, winning a BAFTA in 2003.


Alongside a distinguished career in the West End (in plays such as Art, Cabaret, The Mikado, and Little Shop of Horrors, for which he was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award),

In 2012, McGowan wrote and hosted the comedy sports show You Cannot Be Serious, broadcast on ITV[c]. Here McGowan mixed the funniest and most bizarre clips from that week's sporting news, providing impressions of famous figures such as Louie Spence and Roy Hodgson. Later he appeared on the Scottish comedy sketch show Only An Excuse? from 1996 to 1998, as well as his own sporting impressions show on [c]BBC Radio 5 Live, entitled The Game's Up.

McGowan is a keen football fan and supports Leeds United (and once even claiming that he studied at Leeds University partly because of its promixity to Elland Road) and Coventry City, whose stadium was close to the house in which he lived during his late teens. This interest led to a book that he wrote with former comedy and one-time romantic partner Ronni Ancona, entitled A Matter Of Life And Death Or How To Wean Your Man Off Football.

Born in Evesham, Worcestershire, McGowan was educated at Simon de Montfort Middle School, Evesham (where he took lead roles in school plays), Evesham High School, the University of Leeds (BA English), and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

McGowan's earliest experiences in comedy came with providing voices for some characters in the ITV political comedy show Spitting Image. Some of the sporting impressions here were showcased on the BBC Two football magazine programme Sick As A Parrot. Soon after, he replaced Stephen Tompkinson as Spock in the Tim Firth comedy drama All Quiet On The Preston Front, and starred in the first series of the long-running comedy impressions show Dead Ringers.

McGowan is best known for collaborating with Jan Ravens and Ronni Ancona on the BBC One impressions show The Big Impression (2000-2004), formerly known as Alistair McGowan's Big Impression for its first three series. McGowan and Ancona would impersonate personalities from the worlds of entertainment, sport, and politics, the most popular and recurring figures being David Beckham, Gary Lineker, Tony Blair, Terry Wogan, and Ross Geller (the character from NBC sitcom Friends).

McGowan's own play, Timing (2012), was nominated for Best New Comedy at the awards. In 2013 he toured the UK with live show Not Just A Pretty Voice, and also performed with Eddie Izzard in the first ever stand-up show by two English comics performed totally in French.

From 2009 to 2013 he starred in BBC Radio 4 sitcom ElvenQuest, a show bout a fantasy novelist who is whisked away to a parallel universe.

Although by this point the pair were no longer in a relationship, in 2018 McGowan and Ancona began working with each other once more on the Sky One sketch show The Week That Wasn't, a show that involved rejoicing topical video clips from the political and cultural worlds.

Alongside these interests in comedy and the theatre, McGowan has also maintained a keen passion for music. In 2014 he narrated, in the guise of Erik Satie, one of his idols a concert of surrealist ballet music from 1920s Paris, broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In 2016 he took a live comedy show to Edinburgh entitled Erik Satie's - Faction. In 2017 he also released a debut album on Sony Classical.

McGowan is a keen environmentalist, a patron of the urban tree-planting charity Trees for Cities and an ambassador to WWF-UK.



  • BAFTA Television Awards 2003 - Best Comedy: Winner
Tuesday 24th November 1964 (56 years-old)

Known for


Year Production Role
2020 Whatever Happened To Baby Jane Austen? All The Men
2020 Alistair McGowan: The Piano Show Self
2020 My Brilliant Life Harry Pye
2020 My Brilliant Life Writer
2019 Wireless Wise - A Celebration Of Radio 4 Self
2019 Gaby's Talking Pictures - Series 2 Ensemble Actor
2019 Alistair McGowan: Introductions To Classical Piano Self
2018 Have I Got News For You - Series 56
  1. Special - Have I Got 2018 News For You
Host / Presenter
2018 We Are Most Amused & Amazed Self
2018 The Imitation Game
  1. Special - Highlights Special
  2. E6 - Episode Six
2018 Gaby's Talking Pictures - Series 1 Ensemble Actor
2018 The Week That Wasn't Various (Voice)
2018 The Week That Wasn't Writer
2018 The Week That Wasn't Consultant Producer
2017 Pygmalion Henry Higgins
2017 The 'B' Word George Bernard Shaw
2017 The 'B' Word Writer
2017 Gaby's Talking Pictures - Pilot Ensemble Actor
2016 Munchausen Ensemble Actor
2016 Alistair McGowan: 12th Impressions Self
2016 Erik Satie's - Faction Self
2016 Tonight At The London Palladium - Series 3
  1. E7 - Episode Seven
2016 Boswell's Lives - Series 2
  1. E4 - Boswell's Life of Bennett
Alan Bennett
2015 The Football's On - Series 3
  1. E2 - Episode Two
2015 Boswell's Lives - Boswell's Life Of Johnson
  1. Boswell's Life Of Johnson
2015 The Football's On - Series 2
  1. E38 - Episode Thirty Eight
2014 Memories Of A Cad Richard Briers
2014 What The Future? Various
2014 Arena: Whatever Happened To Spitting Image? Self (Archive Material)
2013 The Two Ronnies Spectacle Self
2013 Mock The Week - Series 12
  1. Special - Christmas Special
  2. Special - Highlights Special
  3. E8 - Episode Eight
2013 Alistair McGowan: Damn Labels! Self
2013 ElvenQuest - Series 4 Lord Darkness
2012 Funny Old Year - Series 1
  1. 2012: A Funny Old Year
2012 You Cannot Be Serious! Host / Presenter
2012 You Cannot Be Serious! Writer
2012 Kind Hearts And Coronets: Like Father, Like Daughter The Gascoyne Family
2012 Room 101 - Series 1
  1. E5 - Alistair McGowan, Hilary Devey, Josh Groban
2012 Playing The Moldovans At Tennis Commentator
2011 Ben Elton: Laughing At The 80s Self
2011 The Comedy Annual
  1. E2 - The Comedy Annual 2011
2011 Arthur Christmas Various (Voice)
2011 ElvenQuest - Series 3 Lord Darkness
2011 The Grumpy Guide To... - 2011 Specials
  1. Special - The Grumpy Guide To Driving
2011 Jennifer Saunders: Laughing At The 90s Self
2011 My Favourite Joke Self
2011 Comedy Rocks With Jason Manford - Series 1
  1. E2 - Episode Two
2010 Little Crackers - Little Crackers 2010
  1. E9 - David Baddiel's Little Cracker
Norris McWhirter
2010 ElvenQuest - Series 2 Lord Darkness
2010 Craig Brown's Lost Diaries Various
2010 Sports Mash - Taking The Mic Various (Voice)
2010 Continuity Announcer
2010 Pete And Dud: The Lost Sketches Ensemble Actor
2010 Look Away Now - Series 4 Ensemble Actor
2010 Look Away Now - Series 4
  1. E3 - Episode Three
  2. E2 - Episode Two
  3. E1 - Episode One
2010 The Sharp End Anthony Sharp
2010 The Alex Lowe Double Act Various
2010 The Alex Lowe Double Act Writer
2010 The Grumpy Guide To... - 2010 Specials
  1. Special - The Grumpy Guide To School Days
  2. Special - The Grumpy Guide To The Eighties
2010 Live At The Apollo - Series 5
  1. E6 - Alistair McGowan, Reginald D Hunter and Kevin Bridges
Host / Presenter
2009 The Grumpy Guide To... - Grumpy Guide To Christmas
  1. The Grumpy Guide To Christmas
2009 Chain Reaction - Series 5
  1. E6 - Alistair McGowan interviews Simon Callow
Host / Presenter
2009 Chain Reaction - Series 5
  1. E5 - Alastair Campbell interviews Alistair McGowan
2009 4 At The Fringe - Series 4
  1. E2 - Episode Two
2009 MacAulay And Co - Edinburgh 2009
  1. E1 - Monday 10th
2009 What The Dickens? - Series 3
  1. E4 - Episode Four
2009 ElvenQuest - Series 1 Lord Darkness
2008 We Are Most Amused Newsreader
2006 Have I Got News For You - Series 32
  1. E2 - Episode Two
Host / Presenter
2006 Mayo Gil Mayo
2005 29 Minutes Of Fame Team Captain
2005 Monkey Trousers Stanley
2004 The Problem With Adam Bloom - Series 2
  1. E4 - Comedy
  2. E2 - Edinburgh
Ensemble Actor
2003 Friday Night With Jonathan Ross - Series 4
  1. E7 - James Nesbitt, Alistair McGowan, Lisa Marie Presley, Dandy Warhols
2002 Friday Night With Jonathan Ross - Series 2
  1. E6 - Richard & Judy, Gary Lineker, Alistair McGowan
2000 Dead Ringers - Series 1 Various
1999 Dark Ages Thane Redwald
1998 The Alan Davies Show
  1. E4 - All You Can Eat
Ensemble Actor
1997 Spark Mike Parkerwell
1997 All Quiet On The Preston Front - Series 3 Spock
1997 The Peter Principle - Series 1
  1. E1 - Episode One
Radio DJ (Voice)
1997 Jonathan Creek - Series 1
  1. E1 - The Wrestler's Tomb
1997 Klinik! Actor
1996 Doon Your Way Ensemble Actor
1996 Doon Your Way Writer
1996 Jo Brand Through The Cakehole - Series 2
  1. E5 - Unhappy Families
  2. E3 - Rude Health
Ensemble Actor
1995 Agony Again
  1. E3 - Dazed And Confused
1995 All Quiet On The Preston Front - Series 2 Spock
1994 Jo Brand Through The Cakehole - Series 1
  1. Special - Jo Brand Through The Christmas Cakehole
Ensemble Actor
1994 The Vicar Of Dibley - Series 1
  1. E5 - Election
DJ (Voice)
1992 When Harry Met Ally - Series 1 Host / Presenter

Non-comedy TV and film credits might be found here:
Alistair McGowan on IMDb

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