Fast-talking satirist Rory Bremner is tests out his Yorkshire accent
Fast-talking satirist Rory Bremner is testing out his Yorkshire accent this month, as he tells Jo Haywood
It’s not every day you get Rory Bremner breathing heavily down your phone. But his panting and wheezing signifies nothing untoward – he’s not even attempting to relive his Strictly success with a breathy quick step. He’s actually moving house and is lugging heavy boxes across the lawn as we chat.
He has always been a multi-faceted multi-tasker, attempting several projects at once, but it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) at the beginning of last year that he could put a name to the often chaotic way he functions. ‘My ADHD means I have taken on too much in the past,’ he said, with more than a hint of understatement.
‘At the end of last year, I was touring, doing my Radio 4 show and competing in Strictly. It was very full-on.
‘I used to move at such a pace when I was younger. I hurtled through life. But now I’m managing to slow down... a little. I’m appreciating the seasons; it’s like I’m noticing them for the first time. Although spring does appear to be our new summer now.’
His idea of slowing down, however, might not match most people’s definition. He is, in fact, still touring his comedy show after almost two years on the road, is about to start a second series of his successful Radio 4 political satire series, Tonight, and is researching a 20-part afternoon series due to air this summer on ITV about Britain’s most beautiful landscapes.
He could, of course, fill the entire 20 episodes without leaving Yorkshire, fitting his filming schedule around the four dates he’s playing in the county this month.
- 1 20 of the best places to eat out in St Ives
- 2 WIN a holiday to the Isles of Scilly worth £1000
- 3 Win a luxury break at The Draycott Hotel in Chelsea
- 4 Gardoolet: WIN this summer's best garden game
- 5 WIN a stay at Hornington Manor's new shepherd huts
- 6 Win a watercolour painting of Wat Tyler Country Park by artist James Merriott
- 7 Win a two-night stay for two at the Telegraph Hotel in Coventry
- 8 Win a 2 night beach stay at The Beachcroft Hotel in Sussex
- 9 23 places to find the best views in Devon
- 10 Win a picnic hamper from Booths
‘That would save a lot of time,’ said Rory, while trying to wrestle a decade’s worth of belongings out of his family home and into a moving van. ‘But I’m usually generating and working on material on the road so I can test it out.
‘Live shows are what performing is all about. You get to go to places you might not otherwise visit, like Huddersfield and Leeds – gosh, I haven’t been to Leeds for a very long time. The lucky thing about doing this job is that you don’t have to take a holiday to visit interesting places.’
His show is not your average two-hour stand-up gig; it’s more of a variety show in which he’s aided and abetted by his friends Hattie Hayridge, a comedian with a strong reputation built over 20 years on the circuit, and Ian Shaw, a jazz singer he’s known since college.
Rory enjoys being on tour and performing in front of a live audience – but that doesn’t mean nerves are no longer a problem.
‘I feel nervous before a performance, but you need to feel those nerves or it just won’t work,’ he explained. ‘It’s the nature of what I do that I might have only written some of the material that day. It hasn’t been tested properly and I can never know what the reaction will be.
‘And once it’s all over, I’m definitely over-critical of my own performance. I get nervous beforehand and over-analyse afterwards. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but I love it.’
He is unashamedly unleashing all manner of old favourites on this tour, giving audiences what they want in the guise of John Prescott, George Bush, David Blunkett, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. ‘I should be doing different characters now, but there simply aren’t the characters to do,’ said Rory. ‘If I started doing George Osborne, people wouldn’t have a clue who I was supposed to be.
‘My Cameron is coming along, and my Miliband. But the new cabinet is a bit of a wasteland for an impressionist. I mean, Phil Hammond for goodness sake. People get Vince Cable, just about. And of course there’s William Hague – thank God for him.’
And what about Yorkshire’s other big-hitter in the cabinet?‘When Nick Clegg starts doing a convincing Nick Clegg, so will I,’ said Rory. ‘If he started speaking out it would give us both a bit of a Clegg-up.’
While he has completed all manner of high-minded projects, including translating two operas and a Bertolt Brecht play into English (he speaks French, German, Spanish and a healthy dose of Russian), he has attracted more public attention for his quick step than his quick thinking.
‘Strictly was wonderful,’ he said, referring to his four weeks on the popular BBC ballroom dancing show last year. ‘The discipline and routine was very good for me, and the connection with the public was amazing. People felt able to come up and chat about the show or how it had inspired them to start taking dancing lessons. It really broke down a lot of barriers.‘As I get older, I get more nervous about performing and more relaxed about public reaction.
‘Strictly helped me to make more friends among the public.’But will he be making quite as many new pals in Scotland, where he is moving his furniture, his family and his often acerbic wit as we talk?
‘Scotland is quite a rich pot for satire, but you have to be careful,’ said the 51-year-old Scotsman. ‘I dipped my toe in the water last week and almost got my foot bitten off. I made a joke about Alex Salmond (comparing him to Iranian President Ahmadinejad) and the response was like a tonne of bricks falling from a great height.’
Maybe he should linger with us in Yorkshire a while longer instead.