Dead Ringers (TV series)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Starting off on radio in 2000, this impression series became a TV series in 2002. Jon Culshaw is its main star.

Common parodies:

  • George W. Bush -- "My fellow animaniacs?" Bush mangles the English language like no-one's business.
  • Tony Blair -- prone to over-pausing and (especially on the radio) describing his mannerisms. There was an interesting scene in one Children in Need where Jon Culshaw was doing his impression- then the real Tony Blair arrived...
  • Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark -- See Film At Eleven.
  • Fiona Bruce -- Sex-obsessed. For a clean quote: "I'm Fiona Bruce. Breaking news, breaking hearts". On the radio this role was taken by the popular Radio 4 newsreader and continuity announcer Charlotte Green .
  • The Fourth Doctor Who -- One of Culshaw's best known impressions. He's also done a few of the other Doctors as well.
    • He rang the various actors who had played The Doctor over the years. This lead to some very amusing quotes, including:

"Hello, this is The Doctor.": Culshaw.
"What, oh no, no you must be mistaken, I am The Doctor.": Tom Baker.

  • David Cameron -- as a vote-grabbing popularist who prefers to avoid controversy.
  • Sir Menzies Campbell (At the time, leader of the Liberal Democracts) -- a doddering old man who liked to sleep a lot. Needless to say, this one was a bit on the controversial side. This impression was retired after he stepped down.
  • The BBC Radio 4 continuity announcers (back when the show was on the radio), particularly Brian Perkins, portrayed as a gangland boss fond of torturing and dispatching those who upset him. In the TV series, Michael Buerk took over this role.

The show has also parodied other British TV and radio series such as Torchwood, Robin Hood, Hustle, You Are What You Eat, Bleak House, The Apprentice (the British version), The Weakest Link, The Archers, and more. American shows popular in Britain also featured, such as House.

In 2009, a new sketch show, The Impressions Show , was released along the same premise, primarily featuring Culshaw alongside Debra Stephenson.

Tropes used in Dead Ringers include:
  • Anachronism Stew: The radio version had a sketch supposedly celebrating the 700th anniversary of The Today Programme, with a look back at the first, which was set in the Hundred Years' War but nonetheless had expies of modern presenters and politicians talking in Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. This proved popular enough to get a TV adaptation (which used Newsnight instead).
  • Catch Phrase: Many, e.g.:

Tony Blair: PEO-PLE...... of Britain... (begins running commentary describing his hand movements)
Linda Barker: Which we think works really really well!
Matt Smith of Go 4 It (not that one): Ace!
George W. Bush: My fellow... ("Invertebrates", "Umbrellastands", anything but "Americans".)
John Humphries: And the time is coming up to... (some bizarre number or concept like 'eleventy-umpteen past banana' - referring to how Humphries famously would read the time out incorrectly and convince millions of drivers they were late for work)

  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Doctor, at least in how he is perceived by all the people he rings up.
  • Media Research Failure: Unlike the well-researched Star Trek/Star Wars/Doctor Who sketches, the TV takes on the films of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter tended to fall into this - for example, Frodo's said to be on a quest to find the One Ring, and the Harry Potter and Voldemort impressions sound nothing like those in the films. (The radio edition's voices for the Harry Potter characters predated the first film, and they stuck with those even after it was released.)
  • Dreadful Musician: The Sing Something Simple Singers were regularly featured on the show's version of Crimewatch for "murdering hundreds of innocent songs".

Fill this holdall with money
Or we'll blow you and the customers away!

  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: When Matt Smith (not that one) left Go 4 It, the radio version interpreted this by having him told by his producer to "investigate what it's like inside a sack", after which he was bundled into a van and thrown into a river.

I'm drowning! Only joking. No, I'm not. (Glub, glub, glub.) ... ... ...Ace.

Roving Reporters: D'you like Eastenders?
Brian Sewell: No. Eastenders is a cavalcade of parsimonious bleating, bereft of cultural significance on every conceivable level.
Roving Reporters: D'you like chips?
Brian Sewell: Bugger off!

  • Shown Their Work: The science fiction references were pretty much all well-researched, especially the Doctor Who ones. All of the Fourth Doctor's jargon refers to actual planets, technologies and so forth not only from the show, but from the period of his tenure.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Impressions Show, which features Jon Culshaw very prominently.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Notably avoided for the most part due to their targets usually also being BBC productions, though there were a couple of exceptions.
  • Too Dumb to Live: George Bush.
  • The Unintelligible: Robin Cook, and also John Prescott in a different way. One crossover sketch involved Captain Kirk attempting to understand Robin Cook by having Scotty "divert all warp power to the Universal Translator!" It failed.