Tracey Ullman’s show returns tonight with some familiar – and new faces – to her roster of celebrity impressions.
They are generally people she has taken to and liked – with some exceptions perhaps – showcasing what she imagines to be the privates lives of the famous.
Her new targets include the Murdoch family, Nicola Sturgeon and Clare Balding, as well as returning favourites British acting dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“I don’t want to become Mike Yarwood,” she told us. “I never used to do impersonations, but celebrity is such a huge part of society, so in a way they are Trojan Horses into other things.”
Here she explains how she tackled them…and why.
“I like her a lot and respect her steeliness. I have heard that male politicians find her attractive to be around. On researching her I realised, without the blonde hair, she looks very Spanish. I would love her to meet Trump and play golf with him and whup his ass. [My co-writer] Jeremy Dyson imagined her as a Bond villain — we filmed for two days in Chislehurst Caves, it was freezing and I was wearing pink, four-inch high heels. But I felt very powerful, and the crew were very much under my command. I think she will like it — she seems to have a good sense of humour.”
“I like Clare. She was captain of the volleyball team at school. I watched her present the Olympics and she’s incredible. She’s really passionate when talking about horses, and she talks really fast… ‘Beautiful filly, beautiful filly…’ She never stops, you never feel uncomfortable with her, she knows how to talk to everybody. And I got this feeling that she was like, ‘Oh, don’t worry, I’ll work the Christmas holidays, I can do that show, I’ll work Boxing Day as well, nothing like the holidays.’ She never stops.”
“That was a tough one, make-up wise, but it kind of worked out in the end. I think Germaine Greer has become intellectually homeless, so I play her at a bus stop looking homeless. [In my version] she was this great sex symbol and she likes to talk about s****ing Martin Amis in the 60s, but what’s she done recently? She’s constantly blaming old age: ‘You try being old! It’s the biggest sin of all.’ ”
“Judi Dench has been our vine – we did her in the first series and she’s been really cool with the impression [which re-imagines her as an anti-social, thieving menace]. I’m told that her daughter Finty loved the impression I did. I know that Judi Dench accepted an award and said, ‘Hello, I’m Tracey Ullman!’ And somebody told me she had a meeting with the BBC shortly after the show and pretended to steal something as she left!”
The Murdoch Bunch
“As we were writing we just noticed the [Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall] nuptials had happened, and I loved that picture of the family at the wedding, and we pinned them up on the board and it just struck me that they looked like The Brady Bunch. The Murdoch Bunch! And so… I love that they all showed up, that intermixed family…I do know Rupert….I did once say to Rupert, ‘Don’t put anything about me in the New of the World’. He said, ‘I won’t, you’re boring’. It was funny and I said: ‘Thank God for that, Rupert!’
“She’s always got two men flanking her. And her body language is so interesting — she nearly always has her hands by her side. And do you remember when George W Bush came up behind her and hugged her and she went, ‘WHOA!’ like she doesn’t like to be touched. She’s got her work cut out for her next year!”
Tracey Ullman’s Show is on Fridays on BBC1 at 9.30pm