Comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood has died aged 82, the Royal Variety Charity has announced.
Yarwood became a household name in the 1960s and 1970s with his impressions of politicians and other celebrities.
He spent his later years at the Royal Variety Charity’s Brinsworth House, in Twickenham, south-west London, and died in hospital on Friday.
We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of the legendary comedian and impersonator, #MikeYarwood, OBE. Mike leaves behind an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry. We send our deepest condolences to Mike's family, his many friends and fans. RIP 🙏 pic.twitter.com/Fiz8pjmZM3
— Royal Variety (@RoyalVariety) September 8, 2023
Yarwood was born on June 14 1941 in Bredbury, Cheshire, and was a lifelong supporter of Stockport County football club.
The Royal Variety Charity said it was deeply saddened to announce his death, adding: “He leaves behind an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry.”
It continued: “Mike Yarwood quickly rose to prominence for his exceptional ability to mimic the voices and mannerisms of countless celebrities and public figures.
“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.
“Throughout his career, Mike graced television screens nationwide, becoming a household name in the 1960s and 1970s. His variety shows, including The Mike Yarwood Show, and Mike Yarwood In Persons, captivated audiences and showcased his uncanny talent for mimicry on prime-time television for two decades.
“The Mike Yarwood Show (1977) holds the record for the largest single Christmas Day audience of 21.4 million viewers.
“Mike’s family have asked that their privacy be respected during this sad and difficult time.”
Yarwood was famous for his impressions of prime ministers Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, as well as the then Prince of Wales.
He said he was just six when he did his first one, stuffing a cushion up his jumper and putting on a pair of glasses to impersonate Billy Bunter.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “Mike Yarwood was simply one of the greats. Part of the golden generation of entertainers that defined television for decades.
“From Harold Wilson to Frank Spencer, his legendary impressions were always pin sharp, warm and funny. We will remember them all with a smile.
“He was rightly one of Britain’s most loved performers and will be hugely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
So sad to hear the great #MikeYarwood has died. I was lucky enough to work with him in the 80s. The guv’nor of impressionists. When I was Sarah Brightman to his Cliff Richard we could hardly get anything done for laughing so much. Thanks, Mike. You were always a star to me🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/XUCykXxnqy
— Kate Robbins (@KateRobbins) September 8, 2023
Television comedian Kate Robbins posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “So sad to hear the great MikeYarwood has died. I was lucky enough to work with him in the 80s. The guv’nor of impressionists.
“When I was Sarah Brightman to his Cliff Richard we could hardly get anything done for laughing so much. Thanks, Mike. You were always a star to me.”
LBC presenter Iain Dale posted: “Today we’ve lost a titan of comedy, Mike Yarwood was one of the biggest stars of TV comedy in the 1970s.
“He was the impressionist’s impressionist and blazed the trail for those that followed in his wake, yet he was sometimes underappreciated.”