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Edmond Wells – professional John Cleese impersonator

Edmond Wells is a professional John Cleese impersonator from the UK. I asked Edmond Wells about his lookalike, and about his - Edmund Wells's - favorite books.

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you get started in your John Cleese impersonations?

EDMOND WELLS: A Love for Fawlty Towers when it first came out. It was such a refreshing antidote to the sanitised pap that was on the box at the time. I have often been likened to John Cleese by friends and even total strangers if they are in party mode. “Here, look everybody! Here comes Basil” etc.

But the real blame can only be attributable to a curry I had one evening! This gave me indigestion and woke me up at 3.30 am. I got up and made myself a cup of tea, and sat down in the front room to watch the box for 20 mins or so. It was an avant garde arts prog. that was all a bit weird and wonderful, until a chap came on from a lookalike agency in London. He had clips of Michael Caine, Elizabeth Taylor, the Royal family etc. He concluded with an invitation for anyone to contact him if they thought they looked like a known celebrity. I took down the number and contacted him the next morning.
He was over the moon! He had a good Manuel, but the Basil he had didn’t look much like the man, and had a strong Scottish accent. He invited me to a lookalikes’ ball in a fortnight’s time, and gave me coverage on Carlton TV, Swedish TV, and the press. The rest is history.

RV: Can you relate any experiences where people have thought you were John Cleese?

EW: I often get asked for an autograph. I’ve even had people send money with a request.
Sometimes I also get a cross over when people really do think I’m the real one, and ask “Are you going to make a new series?”

RV: Is Cleese your favourite comedian?

EW: Yes, he is my favourite. Not all the stuff he does is a total guarantee of laughter, but he’s the closest I’ve ever seen.

RV: What sort of books have you read over the years to research for your Cleese performances?

EW: The Complete Fawlty Towers, John Cleese & Connie Booth.
Fawlty Towers – Fully Booked, Morris Bright & Robert Ross.
John Cleese, Robert Gore Langton.
The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare.

RV: What percentage of your reading would be about comedy?
EW: Studied The Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night for a LAMDA acting examination.
John Cleese starred in the lead role as Petruchio in the BBC edition of the Taming of the Shrew, and Twelfth night is a classic comedy. Such a title has been given to the Fawlty Towers series, as the best of all time British comedy.
It is now on the syllabus for A level drama, in the comedy section.

RV: Can you go into a bit of the history of your reading?

EW: My word, do I detect a certain bias towards books? I have always had a bias to comedy, action and adventure books in general. In my teens I read every book in any library about cycling, later teens it was about balloons and airships, I read every book I could get my hands on. I made some rather large models, that had to be registered with the civil aviation authority. I also loved art and design, and photography.
I spent five years at art college, training to be a chartered interior designer.

RV: What are your top five books of all time?

EW: Seriously blown away by the genius of William Shakespeare. Most of his plays would do. He was quite a lad in his time, and his genius rolls on.

RV: What other interests do you have and do you read much about these interests?

EW: I enjoy sailing, photography and inventing things. I have recently patented a land buggy, suitable for converting a windsurfer to a land yacht. I sometimes read Private Eye, Practical Boat Owner and numerous non-fiction books on practical or adventure subjects.

Check out Edmond Well’s site at http://www.johncleese.co.uk

-copyright Simon Sandall.