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Copy Cats

"You think this impression's wooden? It's just my leg!"AGAIN WITH THE IMPRESSIONS. Only this time there were no saving graces. Ostensibly a fast-paced succession of celebrity-lampooning sketches and songs performed by a young team of impressionists, the sheer consistent lack of quality of Copy Cats left an almost indelible mark on Saturday evening schedules. Kevin Turvey in 1987! Rowan Atkinson’s shouty-man-in-audience character in 1985! Joan Rivers all the time ‘cos there’s always someone that can do her! “Cats” consisted of constantly-churning musical-chairs-style list of mimics, right from stars like BOBBY DAVRO (all voices sound the same) and GARY WILMOT, through MARK “ROY” WALKER, MIKE “JIMMY CRICKET” OSMAN and stalwart double-act AIDEN J. HARVEY & ALLAN STEWART, all the way down to HILARY “JOAN RIVERS” O’NEILL and, inevitably, ANDREW O’CONNOR. First series prefaced with cartoon/balloon-y font depicting title, with “wine-bar” font version twiddling about in the corners then tight-close up on each goon’s face. ’86 saw cheeky comic character antics as the “comedy crew” morphed out of made-up “Copy Cats” comic, each adopting a knockabout image of themselves but “disguised” as a real celebrity or character, all except CHERYL TAYLOR who bizarrely emerges in the form of the Queen of Hearts (true!). Change of tack from herein, with capers discarded in favour of upbeat lyric delivered by the “comedy crew”, dressed in white DJs or full-on ballgowns, hilariously perched on bar stools and marooned on that LWT stage (shot pans round semi-circular formation as they sing the toe-curling tune – “Copy Cats! The comedy team! They’re never quite what they may seem! They look at life in slight-ly diff-rent waaaays!”). This relaxed-but stiff tactic was a hangover from the early closing sequences, which seemed to go on for 20 minutes and had the ensemble singing either that song or tiresome others, but stopping all the time to have the chosen “cat” deliver another poor impression. O’Connor did Turvey, Davro did Duncan Norvelle, Stewart always did Frank Carson (“This is Frank Carson, News At Ten, Westminster. It’s a cracker.”). Later incarnations were tighter, but still ruined by that damn song and raising-of-the-arm on the last long note.



  1. Matthew Rudd

    February 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Mike Osman’s impersonation of Lou Beale was quite extraordinary.

  2. televisualcabbage

    February 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Bobby Nankville (Davro)…. Skated off Dancing on Ice to a very frosty reception…

    Gary Wilmot… From the West End Stage to playing South African Rugby Player Chester Williams in Invictus… Directed by Clint Eastwood… “Go on punk, make my day… and do an impression of Norman Wisdom in full Norman Pipkin mode!”

    Aidan J. Harvey… Now in Spain, apart from an appearence at Portsmouth’s KIngs Theatre in panto about six years ago with Tony (I’m Adam Chance, not the former Arsenal defender) Adams and Mark (Not Gerry..) Rafferty formerly of the Neighbours parish…

    Andrew O’Connor… Objective Productions… Producers of a load of great Naughties telly…
    A very rich man and director of Mitchell and Webb’s movie debut Magicians… Come full circle, you might say!

  3. Tom Ronson

    March 25, 2022 at 3:46 pm

    A few episodes have sprung up (like weeds) on YouTube over the years, and they are unspeakable. During the eighties, it really seemed as though ITV were prepared to offer a series to anyone who could impersonate characters from Coronation Street with a reasonable degree of accuracy. There was another series that pre-dated Copy Cats by about a year called Go For It, which was similarly interminable, and featured Les Dennis and Dustin Gee doing (surprise, surprise) Vera Duckworth and Mavis Wilton. Again. Jessica Martin and Gary Wilmot both moved into musical theatre and have subsequently done very well for themselves, which is all to the good. I saw Wilmot last year at the Barbican in a revival of Anything Goes (alongside other TVC favourites Robert Lindsay and Felicity Kendal) and he was more than fine.

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