Comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood dies aged 82, as tributes pour in

8 September 2023, 22:56 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 23:13

Mike Yarwood has died
Mike Yarwood has died. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

TV comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood died in hospital on Friday aged 82.

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Yarwood was best known for his impressions including of Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, his Conservative rival Ted Heath and football manager Brian Clough, among others.

He was at the height of his fame in the 1960s and 1970s, when his shows drew huge audiences. His 1977 Mike Yarwood Show holds the record for the largest single Christmas Day television audience, with 21.4 million viewers.

The Royal Variety Charity said: "On Friday September 8, at the age of 82, Mike bid farewell to this world, after spending his latter years at the Royal Variety Charity's Care Home, Brinsworth House.

"He leaves behind an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry."

Yarwood became a household name in the 1960s and 1970s with his variety shows, attracting huge audiences for his impersonations of politicians and other public figures, the charity said.

Read more: Sir Michael Parkinson's cause of death revealed after legendary broadcaster passed away aged 88

Read more: 'We'll never forget her songs, her laughter or her incomparable accent': Tributes paid to singer and actress Jane Birkin

Mike Yarwood
Mike Yarwood. Picture: Getty

"Mike's family have asked that their privacy be respected during this sad and difficult time," it added.

Born in 1941, Yarwood got his first big break with his original appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in 1964.

The charity said that Yarwood "quickly rose to prominence for his exceptional ability to mimic the voices and mannerisms of countless celebrities and public figures".

Mike Yarwood
Mike Yarwood. Picture: Getty

"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."

His fellow comedian Kate Robbins paid tribute to him on hearing of his death.

"So sad to hear the great Mike Yarwood has died," she said. "I was lucky enough to work with him in the 80s.

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

The well-known impressionist Rory Bremner said: "He was the Gov’nor. Inspired us, propelled impressionists up the bill & was the court jester of the ‘golden age’ of TV…"

Labour shadow cabinet minister Chris Bryant said: "Very sad to see that Mike Yarwood has died. Such a perfect nuance of sharp detail and charming jollity."

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