How to be famous — use chutzpah
become a film composer or session singer. Her first steps into comedy acting and impersonation happened by accident, aided, she says, by a lot of “blagging”.
Having finished her training as a singer, she heard about a production of Little Voice and was determined to secure an audition. the role required the ability to impersonate various famous singers. “i said: ‘oh yes, i can do singing impressions’. so i went home and taught myself”.
she got the job and soon after that contacted Dead Ringers’ producer Bill Dare. “He said: ‘ very good singing impersonations, but we don’t really have any call for Kate Bush on Dead Ringers. Can you do speaking impressions?’ i couldn’t, but i decided i would say yes and give it a try. two weeks later i got an audition, which led to a part impersonating Billie Piper. they soon asked if i could rollerskate for a teri Hatcher sketch — i couldn’t of course, but again i said ‘yes’, then spent the following two weeks at roller discos full of 13-year-olds.sometimes i need to learn to say no.” robinson regularly updates her repertoire of characters. t he pr o c e s s o f learning a new v o i c e s t a r t s with a short recording of the person in question, whi c h s h e wil l l i s t e n to over and over again. s h e w i l l then start r e c o r d - ing herself having a go until she is happy that i t i s r i ght. once she has mastered that, she studies their mannerisms. And while prosthetics are often used to make impressionists look like their alter egos, robinson’s roles have involved simply hair, make-up and the odd added extra.
“As Claudia Winkleman, the brown contact lenses were the bane of my life, my eyes just wanted to spit them out,” she says. “then just by the way the make-up girl added my eyeliner, and i started to look like Claudia.”
robinson has yet to come face to face with any of those she has mimicked. naturally she would be delighted if they liked what they saw, but if they didn’t? “i’d say the BBC made me do it.” The Culshaw and Stephenson Show, BBC1 Saturdays, 9.45pm