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Mike Yarwood: Thank You For The Laughs | Preview (Channel 5)

Mike Yarwood was one of the biggest TV stars of the 1970s. His impressions of everyone from Ken Dodd to the then Prince of Wales to the political titans of the day saw him called ‘the man of a thousand famous faces’.

His Christmas show from 1977, featuring Paul McCartney and Wings, remains the most watched light-entertainment programme in British TV history. Yet in 1987, still at the height of his fame, he literally vanished from our screens, gave up his impressions and was rarely seen in public or on television again.

Stories of alcoholism, stage fright, and becoming a virtual recluse emerged, along with rumours he feared that he was no longer relevant in a fast-changing entertainment industry.

In this extraordinary film - which has taken on extra poignancy due to his very recent death - Yarwood’s daughters Claire and Charlotte are on a journey to get to the truth about their father’s rise to fame and his sudden exit from public life – a story that took him from shop assistant in Stockport to topping the bill at the London Palladium and becoming an icon in the golden age of television entertainment.

Along the way they discover how his paralysing stage fright and an increasingly serious drink problem saw him constantly battle to even stand before an audience, and, as times and tastes changed, why he decided to suddenly disappear. So who was the real Mike Yarwood, and why did his demons call time on his glittering showbiz career?

Featuring contributions an array of famous faces, including Michael Crawford, Rory Bremner, Robert Powell, Ronni Ancona, Alistair McGowan, Gyles Brandreth, never-before-seen backstage material from his shows, and private family photographs and footage, this is the definitive life story and a fitting tribute to a man who quite literally changed the face of Saturday night television forever.

Airs Saturday 21st October on Channel 5.


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