Saturday 9 September 2023

Mike Yarwood has died. The papers have to explain who he was.

Such is the nature of fame. 

His 1977 Christmas show had more viewers than any other television programme in British history before or since.

He impersonated famous people on British television in the 1970s and was a household name, but he could not do Margaret Thatcher and better impersonators, who'd been to university, came along. The age of working class comedians, actors and journalists was starting to pass.

The people he impersonated, such as Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and Enoch Powell, great men in their day (all of whom I met after their day, when I was an undergraduate), are also forgotten.

I remember when I was at Cambridge reading a letter Tennyson wrote from Cambridge in which he reflected that everyone would be dead in one hundred years' time. 

Which reminds me of this pagan poem by Thomas Jordan, which manages to be more macabre than Horatian. 

'Let us drink and be merry, dance joke and rejoice,
With claret and sherry, the oboe and voice,
This wicked old world, to our joy is unjust,
All treasures uncertain, then down with your dust.
In frolic dispence your pounds, shillings and pence,
For we shall be nothing an hundred years hence.

'We will sport and be free with Fran, Betty and Dolly,
Take lobsters and oysters to cure melancholy.
Each dinner we'll take them and spring like a flea
Dame Venus, thus maybe, was born of the sea.
With her an with Bacchus, we'll tickle the sense
For we shall be passed it an hundred years hence.

'Your beautiful piece, who has all eyes upon her
Who, her honesty sells, for an hogo of honour,
Whose lightness and brightness doth cause such a splendour
That none are thought fit, but the stars, to attend her.
Although she seems pleasant and sweet to the sense,
She'll be damnably mouldy an hundred years hence.

'.... Your usurer who, in one hundred, takes twenty,
Who mourns in his wealth and who pines in his plenty
Saves up for a season he never shall see
The year of One Thousand Eight Hundred and Three
When he'll turn all his bags, all his houses and rents
For a worm eaten coffin an hundred years hence.'


  1. Funnily enough I was thinking of a Scots song recently along the same lines - "We'll live aw wir lives, an thaim that comes ahin, Let them dae the like, an spend the gear they win."

  2. Yes - once one of the most famous men in the land. But, indeed, fame often goes. He was a brilliant performer.

  3. I did enjoy the poem.
    In many ways ploughing the same furrow as

  4. Awww, I loved him, better days

  5. 86 in three weeks...should I be triumphant oapprehensive r concetned?I'm Fitzi Paul u know wherebcontact