Mike Yarwood dies aged 82

Saturday 9th September 2023, 9:18am

  • Impressionist Mike Yarwood has died aged 82
  • In the 1970s, The Mike Yarwood Show was regularly watched by over 20 million viewers
  • The BBC says: "Mike Yarwood was simply one of the greats. Part of the golden generation of entertainers that defined television for decades"
Mike Yarwood

Mike Yarwood, the impressionist who was watched by over 20 million viewers in the 1970s, has died.

His death was announced by The Royal Variety Charity, who said: "We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of the legendary comedian and impersonator, Mike Yarwood, OBE. Mike leaves behind an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry. We send our deepest condolences to Mike's family, his many friends and fans. RIP."

Born in Cheshire in June 1941, Yarwood worked as a salesman before entering the entertainment industry as a comedian and impressionist. He became known for his mimicry of stars, particularly prominent political figures. He had a talent for creating catchphrases for his targets, for example portraying TV presenter Hughie Green as repeatedly saying "I mean that most sincerely, folks".

His first big break was appearing on Sunday Night At The London Palladium in 1964. By the 1970s, he was a huge TV star, with over 20 million viewers regularly tuning in to his impressions shows. The 1977 festive special of The Mike Yarwood Show was watched by 21.4 million viewers on Christmas Day.

Yarwood spent his latter years at Brinsworth House, a care home run by the Royal Variety Charity. They say: "His talent for impersonation brought smiles to the faces of millions and his unique ability to capture the essence of his subjects made him an icon in the comedy world. Throughout his career, Mike graced television screens nationwide, becoming a household name in the 1960s and 1970s. His variety shows, including The Mike Yarwood Show, and Mike Yarwood In Persons, captivated audiences and showcased his uncanny talent for mimicry on prime-time television for two decades. Mike's family have asked that their privacy be respected during this sad and difficult time."

Tim Davie, the current BBC Director-General, says: "Mike Yarwood was simply one of the greats. Part of the golden generation of entertainers that defined television for decades. From Harold Wilson to Frank Spencer, his legendary impressions were always pin sharp, warm and funny. We will remember them all with a smile. He was rightly one of Britain's most loved performers and will be hugely missed. Our thoughts are with his family."

Channel 5 have recently been working on a documentary about Yarwood. Writing on social media late last night, Rory Bremner says: "Heavens. Can't believe Mike Yarwood's died. I was recording an interview for a C5 tribute to him 4 hours ago. Jon Culshaw and Alistair McGowan did pieces too. He was the Gov'nor. Inspired us, propelled impressionists up the bill & was the court jester of the 'golden age' of TV..."

Here is footage of Yarwood in action:

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