1 9 7 1 – 1 9 7 6 (UK)
50 x 30 minute episodes
Mike Yarwood was one of THE biggest British TV stars of the 60s and early 70s. Look – Mike Yarwood! and Mike Yarwood In Persons were prime-time favourites, making him as big a household name as the people he impersonated.
This Saturday evening show from the BBC featured Mike Yarwood performing his famous impressions, including Prime Minister Ted Heath, Harold Wilson, Richard Nixon, David Frost, Benny Hill, Frankie Howerd, Harry Worth, Eric Morecambe, Blakey from On The Buses, Robin Day, Malcolm Muggeridge, Dave Allen, Hughie Green, Max Bygraves, Tommy Cooper, Harold and Albert from Steptoe & Son, Jimmy Hill, Brian Clough, and Frank Spencer from Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em (the staple of every impressionist and comedian in the 1970s).
Mike Yarwood’s career really took off in a 1964 edition of Sunday Night At The London Palladium when his impersonation of then Prime Minister Harold Wilson put him on the map.
He soon grew into one of television’s top attractions, and while Wilson remained his greatest success, Yarwood also won acclaim for his general attention to detail – particularly for his victim’s mannerisms.
Mike was accompanied by Cheryl Kennedy, who played all the female parts and sang one song per show.
Yarwood, like Morecambe & Wise before him, jumped ship in the early 1980s to go to Thames and, while the shows he made there were not particularly bad, the BBC shows were far funnier. ITV dropped him in 1987.
Having regularly attracted audiences of more than 20 million, Yarwood found the decline of his career in the 1980s difficult to adjust to. Alcohol addiction and mental health problems plagued him after his showbiz career slumped, and at a time when comedy was demanding a harder edge, Yarwood quickly lost ground to Rory Bremner and a new breed of satirists.
With such a political bias to his act, the arrival of Margaret Thatcher at Number 10 contributed to his demise considerably.