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Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Impressionist Mike Yarwood came to national attention after appearing on variety shows ABC's Comedy Bandbox and Sunday Night at the London Palladium, playing comedy versions of the new wave of British politicians like Labour's Harold Wilson and the Conservatives Edward Heath. He also tackled popular TV and film stars, leading to many other guest appearances from 1963 to 1968, practically having the playing field to himself for many years. It also didn’t hurt that no-one could touch him, talent wise.

He had to wait until the end of 1968 to get his own series his own series however. Will The Real Mike Yarwood Stand Up? for ATV. Most of the music guests were singers in the Vince Hill, Kathy Kirby mould, but Herman's Hermits, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tick, and The Alan Bown were guests later in the series, with The GoJos the resident dance troupe.

It would be another two years before he was back, and like so many ITV stars from the 1960's it would be on BBC1, this time with Look, Mike Yarwood! Peter Noone would be the regular weekly guest on the show from 1971 to 1973, also turning up in some of the sketches. In 1973 Yarwood would be given the first of his now famous Christmas shows. He was back for a new series in May 1974 with a different line-up of guests each week including Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, The Three Degrees and when the show returned in 1975 the regular singing group were Purple Records' signing Reflections, with Lulu appearing on the Christmas show. It was the 1977 Christmas show that most people remember as he managed to get Wings, even persuading Paul McCartney to appear in a sketch with Yarwood playing a punk version of Chancellor Dennis Healey.

Mike Yarwood In Persons returned in early 1978 with The Brotherhood of Man, Tina Charles, Twiggy and Petula Clark as guests but the Christmas show that year bagged ABBA, but ruined it by getting them to appear in an embarrassing Generation Game sketch. It was around this time that the now-infamous BBC Christmas Tapes, a backroom boys' selection of un-transmittable clips featured a selection of ill-tempered out-takes of Yarwood.

His final series for the BBC in 1979 had The Nolans as the regular musical guests, with Johnny Mathis bagging the guest spot on that year's Christmas show. 1980 didn't bring a new series, but a series of repeats with the Christmas show having Engelbert Humperdinck as his guest, likewise 1981 only brought him a single Christmas show with guests Bucks Fizz. Whether the BBC or the public had lost interest in him is not known, but a new slew of comedian / impressionists were making their presence felt and tackling voices and material that Yarwood couldn't.

Following Morecambe and Wise and Dick Emery by moving to Thames wouldn't solve any problems, but the musical guests were still there, but like Yarwood they still seemed to be stuck in the 70s. By the mid eighties he was only being given hour long Specials, rather than proper series.

In late 1986 TVS gave Mike a one-off Yarwood Chat Show with guests 5 Star, and that was it. He retired from TV, making appearances on stage.

"And This is Me."


ATV / BBC1 / Thames

1968 - 1986