Rory Bremner: ‘I practise my Huw Edwards impression whenever I watch the news’

The comedian says he can't tune in to TV without fine-tuning his impressions

Comedian Rory Bremner (Getty)

What are you watching, Rory?

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I’m a big newshound. I’m very, very, very news driven. I watch News at Ten and Channel 4 News. You know, the news.

Just news?

I have an interest bordering on the obsessive in politics, but we did go right through the Breaking Bad box set. And I really enjoyed the Jeremy Thorpe thing [A Very British Scandal]. Hugh Grant was superb, he was Thorpe to the life. The turn of his head, a twitch of an eye. You think, “Bloody hell – that’s him”.

Who’s doing the best impressions at the moment? 

Jon Culshaw is the go-to Tom Baker and Russell Crowe. His William Hague is very good as well. Alistair McGowan for Gary Lineker and Frank Skinner. In our new series, The Imitation Game, Luke Kempner does a brilliant Christopher Biggins.

Will the Bremner household gather round to watch your new show? 

My daughters are 17 and coming up to 15. They always have better things to do than watch their dad on the telly. Someone once told me that’s a great leveller in life, but so is a steamroller.

Why did Channel 4 bring the extremely popular Bremner, Bird and Fortune to an end?

To this day I still haven’t been told by anyone at Channel 4 that the show has been stopped. I’m like one of those Japanese soldiers who hasn’t been told the war is over.

Do you regret its demise?

Yes, it meant I didn’t have a vehicle for satire any more. I should have been doing more during the coalition. Cameron wasn’t challenged enough in a satirical way, nor Iain Duncan Smith and the benefit cuts or the seeds of Brexit being sown.

Could you have a satire show like that today? 

I don’t know. Increasingly there is an obsession with balance. If Ellen MacArthur came back from a round-the-world voyage you half expect Huw Edwards to say, “And following that extraordinary story, in the interests of balance we are now joined by someone from the Flat Earth Society.” Satire doesn’t have to be balanced. It lampoons, it questions, it challenges.

Is that still important?

More than ever. It’s OK to make a joke about Donald Trump and Boris Johnson but you also have to look at what’s behind Trump and what’s behind Boris. You can’t just laugh and say, ‘Oh, Boris, he’s a bit of a character,” otherwise we give them space to operate in. There is a sense in which we’re not taking these things seriously enough.

So you’re not keen on politicians?

Well, politicians are writing satire twice as fast as we can – reality is constantly trumping comedy. Everyone’s talking about WTO rules. We’ve actually moved to WTF rules – we’re constantly asking, “What the f*** just happened?”

Do you have a television secret?

When I’m watching Huw Edwards on the television I match my voice against his and fine-tune it. I find myself thinking, “Has someone attached a string to his lip, because it’s curling up all the time?” I’m obsessed with Huw Edwards’s lip. And his eyebrows. Are those his eyebrows? They’ve gone very dark, haven’t they?


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The Imitation Game starts Sunday 3rd September at 10.05pm on ITV