I’ve been doing impressions, accents and silly voices since I was a boy. My dad was always doing them around the house as I was growing up and I loved it. I remember when Dead Ringers started on Radio 4 – the whole family would gather round a radio listening intently to all the politicians and celebrities being imitated.
As a result of listening to every episode as I was growing up, and later when the show moved to BBC One, Jon Culshaw quickly became one of my idols.
Several of my impressions are probably more like impressions of his impressions rather than my own if I’m honest – either way he’s been a big influence.
Skip forward to Saturday December 14th 2013 and I get a call from a friend while I’m on my way into work. He tells me that Jon is presenting a show on Radio 2 and that he’s inviting listeners to call in and do their impressions on the phone to the nation.
At first I wasn’t going to call, I must admit the thought of doing impressions live on national radio made me a bit nervous – let alone doing them head to head with one of the country’s top impressionists. Anyway, after a little persuasion from another friend at work I decided to give Radio 2 a call and offer up my best William Hague impression for their judgement.
The producer seemed to like it so I sat and nervously waited. About 10 minutes later I was called back, the Studio Manager asked me for a burst of level while Sheryl Crow’s ‘everyday is a winding road’ came to an end and then I was on…
That’s me, live on the nation’s favourite radio station with my idol, Jon Culshaw. I said hello and launched into my Hague, which thankfully he seemed to like. Feeling a little more confident I remember thinking, ‘well I’m on now – I may as well see how many voices I can squeeze in’. I tried Tony Blair, one of my favourites of Culshaw’s impressions. He came back with his, which is as superb as it was when Blair was in power. Thinking I was pushing my luck I switched to Duncan Bannatyne from Dragons Den for the classic ‘I’m out’.
Jon then said he was wondering if I was his friend and colleague Rory Bremner which was complement enough before following it up by saying I was “a wonderful, powerful impersonator named Rory in your own right.”
Wow – now that’s a compliment. By this point they had faded me out but I was still going, doing Tom Baker from Dr. Who. The producer thanked me and said well done for getting three impressions in. I thanked them for having me on as I am such a big fan of Jon and that was that. I’d made my debut on BBC Radio 2, not as myself but as a feisty Scotsman, the Foreign Secretary and a former Prime Minister.