Maxi recalls the fun and laughter the famous comedian and impersonator brought to so many people’s lives


The canteen in Thames Television Studios in Teddington Lock in the United Kingdom was filling up rapidly with hungry patrons. All the studios were in use that day. Jim Davidson’s show was taking a break between the dress rehearsal and the recording. The audience were queuing outside and there was just enough time for a hot meal before the make-up check.

Benny Hill was also in situ. He was holding a lunchtime brain-storming meeting with his writers. On the agenda a last minute edit before the first technical rehearsal.

Eric Morecombe nodded to the all-female occupants of the table I was sitting at. “Good afternoon Gentlemen,” he said with a grin and wiggle of his ever present glasses. He then took a tray and stood behind Shakin’ Stevens who was reading the black-boarded menu before making a food choice.

I was distracted by a lightening bold of laughter from the table behind me. Our floor manager Flora whispered. “That’ll be Mike Yarwood,” she said, he’s a hoot. Gosh, I would love to be at his table.”

Mike Yarwood was imitating a colleague and causing his dining companions, to peel with laughter.
I remember thinking that a man who can make a hard working team like those folks, who have seen and done it all, laugh is in the possession of a rare God-given gift of talent.

When you saw him in person it was obvious his face was a blank canvas, a dream for a man who’s business was impersonation. His mind was a haven of observation and his body, as fit as that of any athlete.

His skill came from his study of acting. These ingredients could be moulded into any shape or sound he directed from his ever active brain. When these assets came into play, his ability to impersonate gave him a potent mix which brought laughter into the hearts and homes of millions for decades in the world of visual and audio entertainment.
“Mike does me better than I do myself,” former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, said to Micheal Parkinson, when he and Mike Yarwood shared an interview, on the TV talk show.

Mike’s talent brought laughter to the world of millions of his fans because of his special gift to capture the idiosyncrasies without offending.

He got his first taste of the stage, with talent shows in his native Manchester and his first break came when he was offered the job of warming-up an audience in the world of television game shows. That led to an appearance on the London Palladium and from that exposure a long career was born.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own