Comedian and impersonator Mike Yarwood has died aged 82, the Royal Variety Charity has announced.
He became a household name in the 1960s and 1970s, attracting large television audiences for his impersonations of politicians and other public figures.
“The Mike Yarwood Show (1977) holds the record for the biggest single Christmas Day audience of 21.4 million viewers,” the charity said in a statement.
He spent his “final years” at the charity’s care home, Brinsworth House in Twickenham, south-west London,
“He leaves an immeasurable void in the entertainment industry,” the organization said.
The subjects of Yarwood’s impressions included former Labor Prime Minister Harold Wilson, his Tory rival Ted Heath, political interviewer Robin Day, rugby league commentator Eddie Waring and football manager Brian Clough.
His first success came on Sunday night at the London Palladium, where he first appeared in 1964.
Yarwood “quickly rose to prominence for his exceptional ability to imitate the voices and mannerisms of countless celebrities and public figures”, the Royal Variety Charity said.
“His talent for impersonation brought smiles to the faces of millions, and his unique ability to capture the essence of his subjects made him an icon in the world of comedy.”
Comedian Kate Robbins said Yarwood was the “governor of the Impressionists”.
Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, she said: “So sad to hear the great Mike Yarwood has passed away. I was lucky enough to work with him in the 80’s.
“When I was Sarah Brightman to his Cliff Richard, we could hardly get anything done to laugh so much.”
BBC Director General Tim Davie said Yarwood was “simply one of the greats” and “part of the golden generation of entertainers who defined television for decades”.
Chris Bryant, Labor MP and shadow minister for creative industries and digital, said: “Very sad to see that Mike Yarwood has died.
“Such a perfect shade of sharp detail and charming cheerfulness.”
Yarwood was born on 4 June 1941 in Bredbury, Cheshire.
After attending a modern high school, he worked as a messenger and then as a salesman in a clothing warehouse.
He was a lifelong supporter of Stockport County Football Club.