The Which Blair Is Which Project

'Imagine the bother John Cleese's lookalikes had, having to grow moustaches and even hair overnight'
Click to follow
The Independent Online

I have received a letter from a reader that is so disturbing and in some ways controversial that I think I should bring it immediately to a wider audience by reprinting it in this space today. It reads as follows, in its entirety:

I have received a letter from a reader that is so disturbing and in some ways controversial that I think I should bring it immediately to a wider audience by reprinting it in this space today. It reads as follows, in its entirety:

Dear Mr Kington,

You probably don't know my name, but I could well be described as the Max Clifford of the lookalike game. That is to say, I run an agency which guarantees to supply the spitting image of any given celebrity.

People often think that it is amazing to find two people who look exactly the same, and to a certain extent this is true. I have very rarely found two people who were indistinguishable. The mother of identical twins can tell even them apart. (Oddly, I once had an identical twin working for me. He was the spitting image of John McEnroe. His twin looked a bit like John McEnroe, but not much. Don't ask me how. In this game, you get used to things like that.)

But when we supply someone who is a dead ringer for, say, Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe, don't forget that Monroe and Diana didn't really look like that, either. The way that Diana and Marilyn looked came from the way they arranged themselves - the hair, the clothes, the make-up. If you had met either of them on the staircase in the morning, before they had got into their "look", I doubt if you would have recognised them. It came from their accoutrements as much as anything, which means, of course, that an imitator doesn't have to be the spitting image, just have the right accoutrements.

(In some extreme cases, you don't have to look anything like the person you're imitating. Charlie Chaplin was basically all accoutrements, so it doesn't really matter much whether a Chaplin imitator looks at all like him, as long as he has the stick, the walk, the moustache, the swagger, the hat, the baggy trousers and so on. Chaplin was so much the sum of his mannerisms, that a woman can be a good Chaplin lookalike. Can you imagine a man doing a good Monroe? Or a woman doing a good John Cleese?)

Talking of John Cleese reminds me that some lookalikes have a rough deal when the person they look like changes. Cleese has gone through periods of having a moustache and periods of not having a moustache. He went though a period of suddenly having more hair on his head than he used to, to put it tactfully. Well, can you imagine the bother that gives to his lookalikes? Suddenly having to grow moustaches and hair overnight?

You're probably wondering when I'm coming to the point, and here it is. Not long ago I was contacted by a government source who wondered if I could supply him with a Tony Blair lookalike. Not just for Tony Blair, but for the whole Blair family, from Cherie downwards. Well, Tony and Cherie were easy enough, but Euan and the other children were a bit harder. No, I tell a lie - nobody is really sure what they look like, so it wasn't that hard. Anyway, I got the "Blair family" together and only then did it occur to me to ask what exactly they had in mind for my "family".

"Oh, just a few photos," he said airily. "Standby publicity. Nothing more."

Tell that to the marines! I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Blair family photographs from Tuscany. They were all my artistes. Did you read how the photographers weren't allowed to get nearer than 25 feet from the "family"? Did you read how they weren't allowed to talk to the "family"? Did you read how Cherie and Euan seemed somewhat embarrassed by the whole thing and "not quite themselves"?

Not quite themselves! I should say not. Did it occur to you inquisitive journalists to wonder why all these restrictions were imposed by a normally voluble and approachable PM? Did it ever occur to you that the people in those photos were not Tony Blair and his family at all? All I wonder is where the real Blair and his family are on holiday right now...

This is all highly confidential, of course. Don't breathe a word to anyone, for heaven's sake. Thanks.

Yours [illegible]

Well, Mr Illegible, if I had bothered to read your letter to the end before printing it, I would never have done so. Unfortunately, it's a bit late now.

Comments