Could Rory Bremner have brought down the government? | His impersonations were THAT good...

Could Rory Bremner have brought down the government?

His impersonations were THAT good...

comedyRory Bremner’s impersonation of John Major was so good that it could have brought down his Government, Whitehall’s top civil servant at the time feared.

Sir Robin Butler, then Cabinet Secretary, was worried that the impressionist could pose as the Prime Minister and convince  Chancellor Kenneth Clarke to tell him advance details of the Budget. A leak could have been devastating to Major’s fragile majority at the time, 1993.

Sir Robin called in Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade to share his concerns after the satirist made a prank call as Major to a rebellious backbencher for his comedy series Rory Bremner, Who Else?

Speaking to the latest Media Masters podcast, Michael – now Lord Grade –  recalled Sir Robin telling him ‘we don’t have a problem’ withe Bremner pranking MPs  as Major, but added: ‘The issue we have is that, he’s so good, he could ring the Chancellor of the Exchequer and get the Budget.’ 

Lord Grade said  Bremner’s team agreed not to air the call, which Sir Robin described as a ‘great relief’. Grade sent the mandarin a recording for this personal enjoyment.

Bremner has confirmed calling eurosceptic rebel Sir Richard Body posing as Major, saying: ‘We hadn’t got a script, we were just making it up. It went very well.’

‘John Major said "well this is very funny but it could get quite serious" – so there was this hunt going on [for who made the call],’ he recalled.

According the i, Bremner recalls the exchange going as follows:

Bremner as Major: Now come on, what have you been saying behind my back?

 Sir Richard: Oh no, Prime Minister. I’m just worried about the unemployed.

‘Major’: Well I know Richard, so am I. I don’t want to join them, that’s my point. Now, are you coming to party conference?

 Sir Richard: I don’t really go to that.

 ‘Major’: Well, I want you to come with me and I want you to dance with me on the last night.

Published: 2 Jan 2020

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