Alistair McGowan complains that younger audiences ‘don’t get’ impressions

Alistair McGowan complains that younger audiences ‘don’t get’ impressions

Alistair McGowan, one of the UK’s best-known impressionists, has said that his work has been compromised by “younger audiences” who “don’t watch TV”.

The comedian and pianist, known for his BBC One sketch series The Big Impression, opened up about the state of his career in an interview with Scots magazine.

“I still do some live shows but that is drawing to a close now as I am not feeling motivated enough,” he said. “When I have done certain events recently, I have noticed that younger audiences just don’t watch television in the way they used to.

“The younger audience particularly has no idea who these people are, so my whole methodology doesn’t really work for a modern audience. It works for an audience my age or above, and for those I am very happy to dust off my old impressions and throw in a few new ones. But it has gotten harder and I am less interested.”

McGowan was known for performing impressions of public figures and celebrities, including former prime minister Tony Blair, and ex-England Men’s football team manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

He pointed to the rise of social media influencers and the decline of the TV monoculture as reasons for the decline of impressionism.

In recent years, McGowan has performed live as a pianist, interspersing impressions with musical renditions.

“If I have spare time, before I would sit in front of a television show and watch people and think about impersonating, but now I’ll sit in front of the piano,” he said.

“Things do still come in,” he added, pointing to the recent documentary My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock, in which McGowan voices the famous filmmaker.

“The Hitchcock job was wonderful,” he continued. “And if I need to work on a voice, I will. If they come in, I’ll do them, but I’m not trying to perfect the latest football manager, like I would do in the old days.”

The Big Impression ran on BBC One for four years, between 2000 and 2004. McGowan has also appeared on the West End, and spearheaded the ITV comedy series You Cannot Be Serious!.