Dead Ringers (comedy)

Dead Ringers is a UK radio and television comedy impressions show broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC2. The programme was devised by Bill Dare, and stars Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Phil Cornwell, Kevin Connelly and Mark Perry. The principal writers are Tom Jamieson and Nev Fountain. The other writers are John Finnemore, David Mitchell, Simon Blackwell, Richard Ward, Colin Birch, Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens.



The programme was first aired in 2000. The cast of the first series was rather different from that of the rest: of the now-established team, only Culshaw and Ravens appeared, as did Kate Robbins, Simon Lipson and, perhaps most notably, Alistair McGowan. On radio there have been ten series plus a number of special episodes including one devoted entirely to the BBC radio soap The Archers and one to Queen Elizabeth II's golden jubilee. The television incarnation of the show is currently in its fifth season, and there was a special episode devoted to the United Kingdom General Election on May 5, 2005.


The programme is well known for its portrayal of fellow BBC employees, such as Radio 4 news reader Brian Perkins as a gangster ("Who's the daddy?") and then-Director General of the BBC Greg Dyke as a Michael Caine-like character. Newsreaders Kirsty Wark (of Newsnight) and Charlotte Green (of Radio 4) regularly open bulletins on the programme with a line from a popular song ("He was a skater boy, she said see you later boy, he wasn't good enough for her. More on that story later"), while Fiona Bruce is portrayed as flirtatious ("I'm Fiona Bruce, and I'm sat on the luckiest chair in Britain"). Broadcasts reportedly from Downing Street parody BBC political editor Andrew Marr, showing his supposed eccentric manner, interminable sentences, and jerky movements - he is shown with giant artificial hands operated by puppet rods.

Culshaw regularly performs prank telephone calls, impersonating (among many others) Tom Baker's incarnation of The Doctor, Alec Guinness's version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, art critic Brian Sewell and talk show presenter Michael Parkinson. In the show's television incarnation he goes about in public (e.g. shopping) as such characters, vexing shop assistants and used-car salesmen alike ("I seek passage to Aldershot").


Prime Minister Tony Blair announces his hand gesture style while speaking ("People of Britain, starey eyes, sweaty palms, receding hairline, yesterday I announced...), while Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott speaks nonsensical, incomprehensible and, above all, long sentences ("The listeners understand, John, and Gordon Brown agrees with this and you've had your say, that in so far as this policy is implemented if I can get a word in edgeways and the whole Cabinet is behind this...) and on one occasion catches fire when two of his incomprehensible sentences rub together, along with being the subject of the Prescott Widening Scheme to go along with the Road Widening Scheme. Robin Cook is even less comprehensible, and it has been suggested that the famous Doctor Who theme music was created by combining a recording of Cook explaining his views on the European Union with, for the higher-pitched sounds, his reaction to being told that all young female BBC employees were turned on by ugly ginger men with beards.

George Bush

Dead Ringers tends to concentrate on British public figures, although one notable exception is President George W. Bush, who mangles the English language with his invented words such as ignorify, astonisherate and climactification in sentences such as: "As a result, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il announcified that he would be resumerating their nuclear program", and tapes over intelligence videos with episodes of Sesame Street. Another common theme in Bush sketches is the parody of the president's public announcements ("My fellow amaeboids...", " My fellow watermelons...", "My fellow alibis", "My fellow umbrellastands...", "God bless pancakes!", "God bless Spongebob Squarepants!").


Consequently, when the series has been shown outside the UK, on BBC Prime in Europe and Africa, BBC America in the United States, and ABC in Australia, it has had to be re-edited considerably; despite the fact that most of the impressions are funny in their own right without the need for contextual knowledge.

The actors

The actors behind some impressions include:

See also

External links


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