Comedian Mike Yarwood, famous for his impersonations, dies aged 82

Comedian Mike Yarwood, famous for his impersonations, dies aged 82

September 8, 2023

Comedian Mike Yarwood, famous for his impersonations of famous figures like Prime Minister Harold Wilson, dies aged 82

Comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood has died aged 82, the Royal Variety Charity has announced.

Yarwood became a household name in the 1960s and 1970s with his impressions of politicians such as Prime Minister Harold Wilson and other celebrities.

He spent his later years at the Royal Variety Charity’s Brinsworth House, in Twickenham, south-west London, and died in hospital on Friday.

Yarwood was born on June 14 1941 in Bredbury, Cheshire, and was a lifelong supporter of Stockport County football club.

The Royal Variety Charity said it was deeply saddened to announce his death, adding: ‘He leaves behind an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry.’

TV comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood (pictured) died in hospital on Friday aged 82, the Royal Variety Charity has announced

Mike Yarwood smoking his pipe in front of Big Ben in January 1969

Impressionist Mike Yarwood (left) with former Prime Minister Sir Harold Wilson (right) in January 1977

Mike Yarwood (right) pictured with fellow 1970s icon Richard O’Sullivan (left) in May last year

Mike Yarwood (bottom left) during the Jubilee weekend at Brinsworth House with Jess Conrad, Jimmy Tarbuck and Anthony Bygraves

It continued: ‘Mike Yarwood quickly rose to prominence for his exceptional ability to mimic the voices and mannerisms of countless celebrities and public figures.

‘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.

‘The Mike Yarwood Show (1977) holds the record for the largest single Christmas Day audience of 21.4 million viewers.

‘Mike’s family have asked that their privacy be respected during this sad and difficult time.’

Queen Elizabeth II meets comedian Mike Yarwood following the Royal Variety Performance in November 1981

Presenters at the Baftas in 1984: (left to right, standing) Sir Richard Attenborough, David Putham, Unknown, Melvyn Bragg, Mike Yarwood and John Cleese. (Seated) Rowan Atkinson, Susan George, Alan Bates, Pamela Stevenson and Jenny Agutter

TV presenter Cilla Black (left) and comedienne Faith Brown are entertained by Mike Yarwood in October 1996

Yarwood was famous for his impressions of prime ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, as well as the then Prince of Wales.

He said he was just six when he did his first one, stuffing a cushion up his jumper and putting on a pair of glasses to impersonate Billy Bunter.

British actress and singer Kate Robbins has described Mike Yarwood as ‘the guvnor of impressionists’ and said she was ‘lucky’ to work with him on his BBC show Mike Yarwood In Persons in the 1980s.

She tweeted: ‘So sad to hear the great Mike Yarwood has died.

‘I was lucky enough to work with him in the 80s; the guvnor of impressionists.

‘When I was Sarah Brightman to his Cliff Richard we could hardly get anything done for laughing so much.

‘Thanks, Mike. You were always a star to me.’

LBC presenter Iain Dale said Mike Yarwood was ‘a titan of comedy’ and one of the ‘biggest stars of TV comedy’ in the 1970s.

He tweeted: ‘Today we’ve lost a titan of comedy, Mike Yarwood was one of the biggest stars of TV comedy in the 1970s.

‘He was the impressionist’s impressionist and blazed the trail for those that followed in his wake, yet he was sometimes underappreciated.’

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