Stop copying me!

McGowan slates Dead Ringers copycats

Impressionist Alistair McGowan has hit out at the BBC for trying to usurp him with Dead Ringers.

He claims the newer show features the same celebrities as his Big Impression, and that one sketch was even 'word for word' the same as one he performed earlier.

McGowan says he was even forced to drop some impersonations after the Dead Ringers stole his thunder.

He told The Observer: "When we have to drop Nigella Lawson sketches because they've suddenly done them, it means we've wasted a huge amount of our time.

'"They'll say they did Ozzy Osbourne first, but we'd filmed ours. Theirs went out because they were filming closer to transmission than we were. When someone has already done [an impersonation], it takes away the thrill.

"There was one sketch they did that was word for word what we'd done two years ago. One of their chefs - I think it was Nigella - was cooking everybody in a pie. We'd done that with Delia Smith before. It wasn't that they stole it, it was just the same idea.'

"The BBC had told us they were very pleased with our show, so to then have a show that seemed to be doing something very similar seemed a strange way of showing us how pleased they were.'

McGowan worked on the first radio series of Dead Ringers alongside Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens, before launching his TV series in 1999.

But Dead Ringers writer Nev Fountain said: "Dead Ringers is a very different show. Alistair likes to tickle and poke fun in a gentle, amusing, witty kind of way. We are far more aggressive. There's no way a Dead Ringers sketch would appear in Alistair's show. It would stick out like an absolute sore thumb.

'We have no intention of doing Posh and Becks or Richard and Judy, because Alistair is fantastic at doing those. We would be stupid just to go head-to-head with him on every impression. The overlap is minuscule."

Both shows have Christmas specials coming up - McGowan's on BBC1, Dead Ringers on BBC2.

Published: 21 Dec 2003

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