Alistair McGowan

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Alistair McGowan
Born(1964-11-24) 24 November 1964 (age 47)
Evesham, Worcestershire, England
Years active1980s-present
GenresImpressions, sketch comedy
Notable works and rolesThe Big Impression
You Cannot Be Serious
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Alistair McGowan
Born(1964-11-24) 24 November 1964 (age 47)
Evesham, Worcestershire, England
Years active1980s-present
GenresImpressions, sketch comedy
Notable works and rolesThe Big Impression
You Cannot Be Serious

Alistair McGowan (born 24 November 1964) is an English impressionist, stand-up comic, actor, singer and writer best known to British audiences for The Big Impression (formerly Alistair McGowan's Big Impression), which was, for four years, one of BBC1's top-rating comedy programmes - winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA in 2003.[1] He has also worked extensively in theatre and appeared in the West End in Art, Cabaret, The Mikado and Little Shop of Horrors (for which he received an Laurence Olivier Award nomination).[2] As a television actor, he played the lead role in BBC1's Mayo. He wrote the play Timing (nominated as Best New Comedy at the awards[3]) and the book A Matter of Life and Death or How to Wean Your Man off Football with former comedy partner Ronni Ancona. He also provided voices for Spitting Image.

He made his début broadcast as a tennis commentator for BBC Sport at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships.

Since 2 June 2012, McGowan has written and hosted ITV topical comedy sports show You Cannot Be Serious! Impressions include England Manager Roy Hodgson, Eurovision Duo Jedward and TV personality Louie Spence


Personal life and education

McGowan was born in Evesham to Marion and George McGowan. Although aware his father was born in Calcutta, India, Alistair and his sister Kay were unaware of the fact that their father had a Anglo-Indian background until McGowan explored his ancestry on BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are? in the 26 October 2007 episode[4] four years after his father's death. This show also found that he had distant Irish ancestry.[5]

Alistair attended the Simon de Montfort Middle School in Evesham and took lead roles in school productions. He went on to attend Evesham High School.[6] He graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA English degree in 1986.[7] He then went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, graduating in 1989.[citation needed]

McGowan is a supporter of Leeds United, even claiming that he decided to study at Leeds partly because of its proximity to Elland Road,[8] and his obsession with football forms the basis of his 2009 book A Matter of Life and Death.[9]

He is also a supporter of the Green party [10]


McGowan found work as a stand-up comedian, and did some of the voices for the ITV television series Spitting Image. His sporting impressions were showcased on the BBC 2 football magazine programme Sick as a Parrot. He also appeared as the recycling man in the BBC show Think about Science.

Later he took over from Stephen Tompkinson playing Spock in the Tim Firth comedy drama, Preston Front. In his early career, McGowan had minor roles in shows such as Children's Ward, and in the pilot episode of Jonathan Creek. He also starred in the first series of Dead Ringers.

McGowan also appeared in the Scottish football sketch show Only an Excuse? from 1996 to 1998. He also hosted and starred in a sporting impressions show on Radio 5 live called The Game's up in the late 1990s.

Since 2 June 2012, McGowan has hosted and written ITV comedy show You Cannot Be Serious! Impressions include England Manager Roy Hodgson, Eurovision Duo Jedward and TV personality Louie Spence

The Big Impression

He is best known for his work with Jan Ravens and Ronni Ancona on The Big Impression, formerly Alistair McGowan's Big Impression. McGowan has a repertoire of well over one hundred impersonations many of which have been covered on Alistair McGowan's Big Impression.

The most popular and regular include David Beckham, Sven-Göran Eriksson, Gary Lineker, Nicky Campbell, Richard Madeley, Tony Blair, Prince Charles, Robert Kilroy-Silk, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Angus Deayton, Terry Wogan and the fictional characters Ross Geller (from Friends) and Dot Cotton (from EastEnders).

McGowan and Ronni Ancona are probably best known for their portrayal of Posh and Becks with McGowan exaggerating David Beckham's perceived lack of intelligence[citation needed] and Ancona exaggerating the role of "Posh Spice" (Victoria Beckham) with pouting lips. As the Beckhams' style of dress regularly changed - in particular David's changing haircuts - McGowan adapted his costumes and style accordingly. In later years he developed his portrayal of Beckham into a brainiac infuriated by Posh's lack of intelligence.

Return to acting and radio work (2005)

He made a return to dramatic acting in 2005, appearing in the BBC's adaptation of Charles Dickens's novel Bleak House. In 2006 he starred in the detective series Mayo. He also presented an episode of Have I Got News For You on 20 October 2006. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company for the Christmas 2006 season playing Mr Page in Merry Wives: the Musical (a version of The Merry Wives of Windsor) opposite Judi Dench, Simon Callow and Haydn Gwynne.

Despite his acting commitments, he has still continued a successful career of celebrity impersonator on the BBC Radio and also did re-voicing of video footages of 'The Sports Review of the Year' and Match of the Day which has turned him into a sideline sporting celebrity.[11] Two releases of 'Alistair McGowan's Football Backchat' were best sellers in both comedy and sports video charts.

In 2007, McGowan starred as the dentist (and other, smaller characters) in the West End transfer of the Menier Chocolate Factory's revival of Little Shop of Horrors, and filmed My Life in Ruins, an American comedy film set in the ruins of ancient Greece.

In 2008, McGowan made his directing debut at Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Noël Coward's classic comedy Semi-Monde.[12]

In January and February 2008, McGowan starred as the eponymous protagonist of The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, in a revival by Carl Rosa Opera Company. On 21 April 2008 he took over the role of Emcee in Cabaret (musical) at the Lyric Theatre, London. In July of that year he appeared in a revival of They're Playing Our Song at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

In March 2009, McGowan starred as The Duke in the stage version of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.[13]

Alistair appeared as a host on one episode of the fifth series of Live At The Apollo, which aired on 1 January 2010.

McGowan appeared in Skins in February 2011. He played Nick's coach in the fifth episode of the new series.

On 12 March 2011 he played the part of the Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, at the Barbican Hall, London.[14] and, later in the year, took over from Rupert Everett the part of Henry Higgins in Pygmalion at the Garrick Theatre, opposite Kara Tointon as Eliza Doolittle.

In April 2011 he takes to the stage at the Djanogly Theatre, Lakeside Arts Centre at the University of Nottingham in David Mamet's controversial drama Oleanna.

In 2011 he co-starred in the CBBC series Leonardo as Piero di Cosimo de' Medici.

On 9 June 2011 he was unveiled as the newest addition to the BBC Wimbledon commentary team.

Environmental work

McGowan serves as an ambassador to WWF-UK, part of the global World Wide Fund for Nature, and campaigns on a number of environmental issues. In 2004 he launched 'the BIG recycle' national campaign urging public to reduce rubbish by recycling it.

On 2 August 2006, he appeared on BBC Radio 2 on Steve Wright's show to appeal to listeners to be more energy aware. More recently, he appeared on the James Whale Show on Talksport on 20 June 2007 on this issue.

McGowan is a patron of the urban tree-planting charity Trees for Cities.

On 13 January 2009, it was announced that McGowan in partnership with three other Greenpeace activists, including actress Emma Thompson, had bought land near Sipson, a village under threat from the proposed third runway for Heathrow Airport.[15] It is hoped that the area of ground, half the size of a football pitch, will prevent the government from carrying through its plan to expand Heathrow. The field, bought for an undisclosed sum from a local land owner, will be split into small squares and sold across the globe. When interviewed Mr McGowan said: "BAA were so confident of getting the Government's go ahead, but we have cunningly bought the land they need to build their runway."[16]

In 2009, he attended the Bromley Environmental Awards and was the celebrity guest at Bromley Civic Centre where the awards were presented to various schools in the borough.

In June 2011, it was announced that McGowan had become a Patron of the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery, where over 30 members of his extended family are interred.[17]

Other work


  1. ^ "Television Awards Categories - Television - Awards - The BAFTA site". 2005-07-07.,88,BA.html. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  2. ^ "Olivier Winners 2008 | The Official London Theatre Guide". Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  3. ^ " Awards - Theatregoers' Choice Awards". Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  4. ^ Alistair McGowan (2007-10-26). "BBC One - Who Do You Think You Are?, Series 4, Alistair McGowan". Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "Comedian joins campaign for wildlife". Ludlow & Tenbury Wells Advertiser. 2003-08-28. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-10-04 
  7. ^ Public eye | Who's been here | Alumni | University
  8. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (23 September 2009). "Alistair McGowan: 'Football cost me my partner, Ronnie Ancona'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  9. ^ "Faber & Faber : A Matter of Life and Death [Ronni Ancona & Alistair McGowan, 9780571250547]". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ "Dave: Who 's on Dave: Alistair McGowan". 2007-03-29. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  12. ^ "McGown's directorial debut photo and link to press release". 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  13. ^ 1 TORQUAY MAN (2009-03-27). "Measure for Measure at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre " Express & Star". Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  14. ^ "The Pirates of Penzance". Barbican. 
  15. ^ "UK | England | London | Protesters buy up Heathrow land". BBC News. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  16. ^ "Celebs buy Heathrow expansion land". 13 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07. 
  17. ^ "Alistair McGowan becomes a Patron of the Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery". Friends of Brandwood End Cemetery. 2011-06-14. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 

External links