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Byline: Marc Baker

EXCLUSIVE by Marc Baker MASTER mimic Alistair McGowan is really hoping England boss Roy Hodgson will see imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.

Sports nut Alistair wears a rubber mask to lampoon Hodgson on his hilarious Saturday night show.

But millions of England fans won't be happy if his impression annoys Roy, 64, before tonight's Euro 2012 quarter-final against Italy.

That's not the intention of Alistair, who has had fans in stitches for the past two weeks with his impressions on You Cannot Be Serious!

Roy's trouble pronouncing the letter R has been a gift to Alistair, 47, who has no qualms about mocking the manager's speech impediment.

He said: "I have been following England all tournament, of course, and I hope I have not upset Roy. All I want to do is make him and our fans laugh.

"When I told a friend I was going to do him on the show he said he would text him, but I did not want him to ruin the surprise."

The show is a return to TV after eight years for Alistair, who is probably best loved for his side-splitting impression of Becks alongside Ronni Ancona's Posh on BBC's The Big Impression.

He has defected from the Beeb to ITV but Alistair's send-ups have not always been enjoyed by the targets of his mickey-taking.

Alistair, who made his name on the BBC in 1999, managed to make an enemy of football pundit Mark Lawrenson, 55. Alistair said: "When we were once did a sketch about Match of the Day involving Lawrenson and Gary Lineker. It was based on the idea of them being two blokes who are together a lot and spending their weekends together.

"At the end of the sketch, we did a line where Lawrenson turns to Lineker and says: 'I do love you, Gary.' Of course, Gary, ever the pro, just says: 'Anyway, moving on,' like he does to the next TV link.

"As far as we were concerned it was innocent. But I met Alan Hansen two years after that and he told me Lawrenson was gunning for me because of the sketch.

Breasts "Hansen told me, 'You know he's always sensitive about that. He did not like it.' He couldn't understand it was a completely innocent thing."

Alistair also got into trouble for his impression of BBC sports commentator and former jockey, Clare Balding, 41. He said: "She didn't like what we did as she felt we made her breasts look too big for TV.

"It was the first time I had worn women's clothes for a sketch. I was given these breasts to wear and I did not think they were big enough.

"I was like, 'I wish these were a bit bigger.' I was a woman for 30 minutes and I was commenting on my breasts."

The new show is an amusing take on the week's most talked about sports events, including Euro 2012 and the Olympics, and Alistair said it had been tough keeping up with today's trends.

But he has been helped by his c o -producer, TV Burp star Harry Hill. The pair worked CAMP COACH: together on a fourpart radio series When Harry Met Ally in the 90s. Alistair, who has been doing stage work and writing in the past eight years, said: "The show has been a challenge as I have been learning lots of new accents. Harry has been helping though, so you could say the show is a bit like a TV Burp but about sport.

"I have been doing new voices like Robbie Savage from Strictly Come Dancing but there's still a lot of Lineker as he's a popular one. One of my goals has been to learn voices like dancer Louie Spence's.

"So you might have a sketch where instead of Gary Neville coaching the England side, you've got Louie Al's Louie doing movement coaching. That would be absolutely 'shenshational'." Alistair has seen a lot of television recently to keep his impressions current.

"I have been watching Shameless on Channel 4 and been learning to do Frank Gallagher. And I am including Benedict Cumberbatch, Paddy McGuinness and Eddie Jordan as well as Jedward."

Alistair also has fun inter-linking his characters on his new show. He said: "Mark Lawrenson and Brian Cox are essentially the same but Lawro speaks more slowly.

"One I'm really pleased with is Roy Keane. It's quite a hard accent to do, quite back-of-the-t habit of talking abo rates." This dedic matched by Alistai beautiful game. throat. He has this out players' 'wohk' cation to detail is ir's passion for the In fact, it is this o in general which break-up of his seve with Big Impressio Ronni, 43. obsession with sport he credits for the en-year relationship on comedy partner eird comedy circuit but before they began BC.

We They met on the split four months b working for the BB Alistair revealed caused the break u with it. Ronni foun was watching so m Today, Alistair d: "My love of sport up. I was obsessed nd it difficult that I much sport."

is not completely cured of his addiction. He said: "There are little things I do. Little things such as I have to know the results and what were the attendances. It's a weird thing.

"I've always wanted to write why people are so obsessed with sport and football. I believe there's something about the connection with your dad when you're growing up with sport on the TV on a Saturday.

"And for the new show I have asked a lot of people about that." Now a lot of people about that. Now riding high again, Alistair says he looks back on the times he shared with his late father George with fondness. Born in Evesham, Worcestershire, Alistair only learnt more about his ancestry when he took part in the BBC1 show Who Do You Think You Are? in 2007.

He knew his dad was born in Calcutta, India, but Alistair had no idea about his Anglo-Indian heritage. He said: "I knew I could do a good Indian accent but I never understood Indi dian accent bu b t I ne neve ver un unde ders rsto tood od why." He discovered six generations of McGowans had been born in India but is not angry that his dad hid it from him. He said: "When the Anglo-Indian community first came over here there was a lot of racism and they protected their children by telling them they were English.

"My father's people were know as the Bombay Welsh. They used to refer to themselves as Welsh because of their dark skin and accent. I wish I was able to talk to my dad more about it now. I guess it is the same with everyone who has lost a parent.

"But I don't think my dad would mind it having been exposed in that show. We did use a photo of him body-building and I think he would have been thrilled with that."

But Alistair, who is engaged to opera singer Charlotte Page, 45, said he has mum Marion to thank for his success as she taught him all he knows as an impersonator.

He said: "Mum was a school teacher and would impersonate children who she had spoken to that day and their parents coming and going.

"I thought everyone did impressions. I have a trained ear I guess."

But despite having a repertoire of hundreds of voices today, Alistair admits that not all celebrities are possible to imitate.

He said: "I struggle to do a perfect British accent. Gwyneth Paltrow can do a good one in the film Sliding Doors. It's all about how you pronounce your T sounds. Few accents now are pure.

"I am doing the boxer Amir Khan at the moment and the moment n he has Indian in there and Bolton and it is hard to do. It is the hardest thing to mix the two. Over the years I have always wanted to do Alex Ferguson well, with him being at Manchester United for so long. He is the biggest person in sport but I can't do him.

"He merges words like absolutelybrilliant and I can't get his phrases and the way he says things.

"Another one is David Cameron. He is impossible to do. Nick Clegg is all right and I do Ed Miliband. Sometimes he is aggressive but then he goes all camp so he is easy."

Alistair admitted his favourite person to imitate is London Mayor Boris Johnson. He said: "Boris is good to do. He is one of the biggest laughs in my act. Everybody knows him."

But Alistair says he cannot always rely on his vocal talents to get him out of trouble.

He added: "When I did my standup tour three years ago I noticed how bad I was at getting out of situations that I'm not comfortable in. I am better sticking to a script. I am not so good at playing with an audience but I've got used to it."

features@people. You Cannot Be Serious! ITV1, Saturday, 7.30pm


NEW LOOK: Al as Robbie Savage CAMP COACH: Al's Louie ' PARTNER: With fiance Charlotte FAVOURITE: Alistair as Becks and Posh Ronni
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUE
Date:Jun 24, 2012
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