Alistair McGowan is a British impressionist, actor, writer and guest speaker. Probably best known for ‘The Big Impression’; which was for four years, one of BBC1’s top rating comedy shows – winning many awards, including a BAFTA. Also for his much loved ITV1 sports comedy ‘You Cannot Be Serious’.
After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1989; Alistair McGowan began working as a stand up comic. He was soon a regular at London’s Comedy Store, appearing at Edinburgh and on the Royal Variety Show. 2009 saw Alistair return to stand up and start his first solo national tour ‘The One and Many’. His come back was complete, when he was seen on Live At the Apollo.
Alistair McGowan: TV Shows
In 2011, Alistair was also seen on Jason Manford’s ‘Comedy Rocks’; twice on ‘A Question of Sport’ and on ‘The Comedy Annual’ on ITV1. In 2012, he was a guest on ‘Room 101’. He was three times a guest on ‘They think it’s all over’, ‘Call my bluff’; once on ‘under the moon’ and ‘the best show in the world… probably’. He has been part of several sketch shows, such as; ‘fist of fun’ and ‘Ant and Dec’.
Other TV shows include guesting on; Blue Peter, Parkinson, On Side, The Priory, This Morning, TFI Friday and Sky TV’s Apocalypse Tube. Alistair also narrated the Radio 4 doc ‘the history of the voice’; and provided voices for a new Aardman film the ‘Tortoise & The Hare’. From 1992 to 1996, Alistair McGowan was also the voices for many of the characters on ‘Spitting Image’.
Alistair McGowan: Radio Work
Alistair is a regular on Radio 4 comedy shows: Weekending, The Harpoon and he co wrote; and starred in four series of The Game’s Up, a satirical sports show on Radio Five. He came back to Radio 4 in 2009; to play the Lord of Darkness in ‘Elven Quest’.
In 2010, he was heard on radio in; ‘Goldfinger’ (with Ian Mckellen), ‘Final Demands’ (with Tom Conti), Look Away Now, Continuity; and The Craig Brown Diaries. In 2011, his radio work saw two more series of Elven Quest; and he read the Lionel Bart biography Fings Aint What They Used Ter Be – to huge acclaim over Christmas. 2012 saw him appear as seven different characters, in a new adaptation of Kind Hearts and Coronets.
Love of Sport
His interest in sport saw him release two football comedy videos; which became cult viewing in the nineties: Football Backchat and The Second Leg; and in 2010, he revived his interest in voicing over sports footage. Along side Dave Lamb of Come Dine With Me fame, in ITV4’s cult hit Sports Mash. In 2011, he achieved a life long ambition, when he was part of Five Live’s commentary team at Wimbledon.
After Dinner Work
Alistair McGowan has a very good reputation as an after dinner speaker; and has been entertaining private audiences for over fifteen years. Performing for a number of football clubs including: Manchester City, Leeds United, Arsenal, Leicester City and Nottingham Forest; and has hosted a large number of industry award ceremonies. Including the BAFTA Craft Awards two times, and the British Environment In Media Awards four times.
Pro Celebrity Tennis
Alistair’s keen interest in tennis, led to him being asked to take part in a number of pro-celebrity tennis events. Which have seen him play against and alongside the likes of; Ilie Nastase, Ken Rosewall, Guillermo Vilas, Peter Fleming, Mats Wilander, Henri Leconte, Mansour Bahrami and Annabel Croft. He has twice played Tim Henman, once for an article in The Daily Telegraph and once for a charity event. He also played with Ilie Nastase against Pat Cash and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, for Comic Relief.
Alistair McGowan on Stage
His theatre work includes: Kafka in Kafka’s Dick and Clov in Endgame (Nottingham Playhouse), Art (Wyndham’s) Khlestakov in The Government Inspector (Chichester), Ford in Merry Wives: The Musical (RSC); with Simon Callow and Judi Dench, The Dentist in Little Shop of Horrors (Duke of York’s) for which he received an Olivier nomination, the title role in The Mikado (Carl Rosa), the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, Vernon Gersh in They’re Playing Our Song (Menier Chocolate Factory) – alongside Connie Fisher, The Duke in Thelma Holt’s touring Measure For Measure, John in David Mamet’s Oleanna (Lakeside), the Emcee in Rufus Norris’ Cabaret (Lyric). And he took over from Rupert Everett as Prof Henry Higgins in Pygmalion; alongside Kara Tointon and Dame Diana Riggg (Garrick, 2011).
As an actor, on TV, Alistair McGowan played Spock in Tim Firth’s Preston Front, Mr Kenge in Bleak House; and the title role in the quirky detective show Mayo (co writing several later episodes). He featured in Skins as a South African rugby teacher; and as the evil Piero de Medici in the 13 part CBBC drama Leonardo. In 2012, he appeared alongside Dougreay Scott in The Words of Captain Scott; and also narrated The Falklands Most Daring Raid for Channel 4
Other Career Highlights
Alistair has hosted ‘Have I Got News For You’, appeared as one of the grumpy old men in ‘Grumpy Guides’; presented features on ‘The One Show’, sat in Dictionary Corner on ‘Countdown’; and has been featured on the hugely popular ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’.
He appeared in the film Driving Aphrodite, opposite Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss. He plays Norris McWhirter in David Baddiel’s film, The Norris McWhirter Chronicles for Sky 1.
Alistair has written A Matter of Life and Death, How To Wean A Man Off Football with Ronni Ancona; an autobiographical comedy self help book, about football as an addiction.
His first play ‘Timing’ premiered in London in October 2009. It received a nomination for ‘Best New Comedy’ in the whatsonstage.com awards 2010.
Alistair McGowan: Director
Alistair has also directed Semi Monde by Noel Coward, at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2008; The Mikado (2010) and The Pirates of Penzance (2011) for Raymond Gubbay.
He devised the show Cocktails With Coward, which he performed with Charlotte Page for a sell out run; at the Edinburgh Festival 2009 and at the Riverside Studios in 2010. The show toured, under the name Sincerely Noel from Nov 2011 to Feb 2012.
A keen environmentalist, Alistair has never yet owned a car and is an ambassador for WWF UK. He also played a key part in the saving and restoration of an art deco cinema, called The Regal. In his home town of Evesham, which is now open and thriving.
Alistair was joint winner with his comedy partner Ronni Ancona, of the Variety Club Comedy Award in 2002.
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Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.
Some reviews of Alistair McGowan
Clive James- Daily Telegraph
An excellent one-man show!