TV Cream

TV: W is for...

Who Do You Do?

“MICK JAGGER visiting a laundrette? It would probably be something…like this…” Oh good lord. Bastard blueprint for the likes of COPY CATS, scripted by DICK VOSBURGH and BARRY CRYER, but bollocks all the same. Up-against-the-wall cast consisted of FREDDIE STARR, PETER GOODWRIGHT, FAITH BROWN, JANET BROWN and LITTLE AND LARGE. Guest turns, turn being the operative word (i.e. to another channel), came from, among others, LES DENNIS, DUSTIN GEE and MICHAEL BARRYMORE.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Dave in Dover

    May 16, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Whatever happened to Ken Goodwyn….”Settle down now” This reminds me of other great 70’s moments, the 3 day week, riots, power cuts, the IRA blowing up brummie pubs, strikes……oh how we loved it all.

  2. Droogie

    January 25, 2022 at 11:34 am

    It struck me how apart from the occasional act cropping up on BGT, you rarely see impressionists on TV anymore. Even the established ones have disappeared off our screens – when did you last see Bremner, McGowan or Culshaw on the telly? Wonder why this is and why there’s no Impressionism TV shows anymore.? I’m guessing lower TV budgets means there’s not the money for all the costume changes anymore. Or maybe that celebrity impressions get stale very quickly ( Jon Culshaw was a good example of this – he could do a note perfect David Brent for example , but after a few times it was boring. ) There could also be a dearth of real personalities in current celebrities and politicians that make them impossible to mimic.

  3. Sidney Balmoral James

    January 25, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    I suspect the lack of distinctive personalities is part of it, as celebrities these days seem to be the complete nobodies who appear in programmes like Made in Chelsea, and then live out their lives on Daily Mail Online. And politics is now beyond satire, which may be why Rory Bremner is no longer often on telly. Impressionists of course have about them a distinct whiff of variety, which is not likely to be exhumed any time soon (when did you last see a ventriloquist, or a juggler on telly?) Even McGowan and Culshaw’s acts included a significant proportion of nostalgic impressions (Steptoe and Son, Tom Baker etc.) which suggested personalities were drying up.

  4. Sidney Balmoral James

    January 25, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    Agree with the lack of personalities – who these days seem to be nobodies who’ve been on Made in Chelsea, and then live their lives out in the pages of the Daily Mail (or rather, on Daily Mail Online). Even Culshaw and McGowan did their fair share of nostalgic impressions (Steptoe and Son, Tom Baker etc.) suggesting celebrities were dwindling. Politics is now beyond satire, hence less of Rory Bremner. And impressions have about them a distinct whiff of variety, which isn’t going to be exhumed any time soon (when did you last see a juggler or a ventriloquist on television?)

  5. Droogie

    January 25, 2022 at 2:33 pm

    @Sidney Balmoral James Good points, though I’ve definitely sighted more ventriloquists than impressionists about in recent years! Paul Zerdin who’s been around for decades and won both BGT and America’s Got Talent still pops up a bit. And Jeff Dunham and his questionable Comedy Terrorist act is huge in the States. I see Nina Conti still appear on various Dave TV shows too.

  6. Richardpd

    January 25, 2022 at 10:39 pm

    I’ve often noticed that impressionists tended to be wedded to a certain era, & struggle to stay relevant when their main impressions fade from view. Mike Yardwood had a bad case of this, not helped by Margaret Thatcher being beyond his talents.

    Phil Cool seemed to quit while he was ahead, though his ITV show not doing so well was a factor.

    Recently I was thinking about how the career of Keith Harris was on a slippery slope after ventriloquists started being so poplar. As charted elsewhere Paul Daniels was on a similar trajectory when magic act lost their appeal, though he had some game shows to fall back on.

    I can’t remember seeing much magic in recent years outside of BGT, along with some other acts that wouldn’t be out of place On the Paul Daniels Magic Show.

  7. THX 1139

    January 26, 2022 at 12:00 am

    The most recent big impressionist show on TV was Tracy Ullman, who did some very funny spoofs of current news stories. Dead Ringers is still on the radio, too. But maybe what killed off the TV impressionist show is that the news is bloody terrifying now, and nobody feels much like laughing at it.

  8. Droogie

    January 26, 2022 at 1:24 am

    Regarding ventriloquists, I saw an unintentionally hilarious war break out between various acts a few years back regarding accusations of act theft. Paul Zerdin has a bit in his live show where he calls up audience members on stage and fits them with a mechanical prosthetic mouth that he can open and close with a remote control to make them look like they’re speaking. Cue hilarity as he throws his voice and makes them say inappropriate things. Unfortunately, an American act called Ronn Lucas was doing an identical piece in the 80’s and called out Zerdin as a thief. To add to the confusion, Nina Conti was also performing a live show at the time involving mechanical mouths on audience members. Somebody should really make a documentary about this called Ventriloquist Wars.

  9. Glenn Aylett

    January 26, 2022 at 7:42 pm

    So this must have been an early break for Little And Large, whose career would last last for 14 years on peak time television. I do remember another impressionist, Mike Yarwood, giving them a big promo on his 1977 series, where they did their celebrity starting their car routine and as a nine year old found it hilarious and the duo had found their niche as family entertainers.

  10. Richardpd

    January 26, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    Tracy Ullman had some good impressions in her show, especially Angela Merkel & Nicola Sturgeon.

    The briefly popular Watson & Oliver, had a few in their show.

  11. Droogie

    April 18, 2022 at 1:30 pm

    Watched an old episode of Who Do You Do and was struck at what a weird dude Peter Goodwright was regarding how his 70’s act seemed to consist of impressions of dead music hall acts from the 30’s and 40’s. I used to listen to a Radio 2 show called The Impressionists in the 80’s, and he’d appear doing long dead people like Fred Emney and Old Mother Reilly that baffled me as a kid ( Mind you, the grannies they’d bussed in for the audience seemed to enjoy them) Redeemed himself playing Will Hay in Harry Enfield’s Norbert Smith parody.

  12. Droogie

    April 20, 2022 at 2:33 am

    No mention here of impressionist Johnny More who was a regular fixture on 70’s TV variety and also had the misfortune to appear on Copy Cats later on too. Did a decent Kirk Douglas / Burt Lancaster combo borrowed from Frank Gorshin, and could croon like Sinatra too for a closing song.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

To Top