Peter Capaldi and Benedict Cumberbatch impressions to feature in Dead Ringers revival

Impressions show will return to Radio 4 with the new Doctor and Sherlock up for ridicule alongside the residents of Downton Abbey

It was the comedy impressions show that introduced Tom Baker’s Doctor to a new generation thanks to Jon Culshaw’s memorable impression of the fourth Time Lord.


And now the comedy series Dead Ringers is returning to its original home of Radio 4, the man currently holding the keys to the TARDIS is also going to be impersonated, one of the show’s impressionists, Jan Ravens, has revealed.

Comedian Lewis MacLeod has been tasked with getting every word, pronunciation and mannerism of the new Time Lord just right – something of a difficult task given that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor has only been seen and heard in just a few short trailers for the upcoming series 8.

“We haven’t seen Peter Capaldi’s Doctor yet but we probably have an idea of what he will sound like,” Ravens told

None of the new six-part Dead Ringers series has yet been recorded with material honed up-to-the minute and recorded the night before broadcast to make sure that it is as up-to-date and topical as possible.

Ravens added that one of the show’s team of impressionists has also perfected their Benedict Cumberbatch but was unable to say who would be taking on the part. Cumberbatch’s character has been the subject of a pastiche before, with actor Kieran Hodgson mimicking him in the crime series Jonathan Creek earlier this year.

“As well as Sherlock there will also be a bit of Downton Abbey,” Ravens confirmed.

This will be the first time fans of the show will see new material since the Dead Ringers TV series finished on BBC2 in 2007. The comedy started on Radio 4 in 2000 before becoming a TV proposition in 2002 with the BBC2 series.

The new team will see old favourites Jon Culshaw and Ravens joined by new faces Duncan Wisbey, Lewis MacLeod and Debra Stevenson.

Ravens said that other new characters she has managed to crack will include Tory politicians Esther McVey and Theresa May and Labour MP Diane Abbott. Ravens added that she will also “have a crack” at Radio 4 presenter Jenni Murray whom she has not done before.

However she says that it is increasingly difficult to find suitable people to impersonate because public figures are getting better at perfecting their image.

“As an impressionist you care about people’s outward appearance,” she said. “But now everybody cares about how they are presented to the world so they are more bland and harder to do.

“You don’t get eccentrics like Clare Short nowadays in politics. But if you look hard enough you can find something with the current lot.”


The six-part series Dead Ringers returns to Radio 4 on Wednesday 30 July at 6.30pm