Day in the life of Edmond Wells
PUBLISHED: 17:11 05 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:08 20 February 2013
International John Cleese impersonator Edmond Wells interviewed by Mark Tweedie.
Day in the life of Edmond Wells
Getting-up time is anything from 8.30am to lunchtime, depending on when Ive got back home from work. Occasionally I fancy a cooked breakfast, otherwise its something simple such as cornflakes. I have to watch my diet as Ive one or two allergies. During the day, Im busy promoting what I do. Lately Ive been sorting a new series of websites tailored to my different guises. Basil Fawlty is the most popular of all more on that later but theres Monty Python stuff too. Once, I did a Ministry of Silly Walks routine outside the Houses of Parliament for a software companys advertising campaign. Also, I do Agent Q, from the James Bond movies.
Not all are former Cleese characters. I do the assassin, Jaws, also from James Bond I had a set of stainless steel teeth especially made up and Rubeus Hagrid, the giant of Harry Potter fame. Im 6ft 7in, but with the raised boots for that costume Im 7ft 2in, and Ive got a fat suit that gives me a 58-inch chest. Theres a pink umbrella to go with the costume that fires flares about 12ft indoors and 400 outdoors. Oh, and Im a qualified toastmaster.
I remember seeing Fawlty Towers the first time around. It was jaw-droppingly good, and my mates and I used to re-enact bits such as Basils goose-stepping scene. After college I went into interior design, working much of the time in North Wales and the North-West. Over 20 years I was involved in all kinds of projects, some of them multi-million-pound jobs: Hotels, offices, shops, even a 100-room private house.
So, why the change of direction? If youre dealing with lots of sub-contractors you can get a bit manic; youve deadlines to meet yet things are crumbling around your ears. People noticed my resemblance to the comedy star and pulled my leg. Theyd say: Watch out, here comes Basil on the warpath!
Also, Id go into pubs in unfamiliar towns and occasionally a wag would announce: Look! Basil Fawltys just walked in. But actually I owe my break to a chicken curry. It gave me indigestion at 3.30am one morning. I got up for a cup of tea and turned on the box. A chap came on from a lookalikes agency; he asked anyone who resembled a celebrity to call him. So I did. He said there was a Basil Fawlty on the books but he had a Scottish accent and didnt look much like him either. Eventually I got started, but going from a drawing board to this new malarkey was scary, and the first time out I died a thousand deaths. I was that frightened: You might as well have had a cardboard cut-out.
Suddenly, though, the penny dropped, and since then Ive had more than 1,000 bookings in 14 countries. Ive worked in Dubai and Muscat, San Francisco and Vancouver, Scandinavia . . . In London, Ive appeared everywhere from the Dorchester to a private party at Annabels.
I do anything from weddings to bar mitzvahs plus events, exhibitions and advertising work for large corporations; also Fawlty Towers nights for pubs and restaurants. Usually my act is spontaneous, not scripted. The surprise element is key, so I wont let on precisely what happens. Suffice to say Ive had uproarious reactions, with people rolling around
I put on a fake moustache and a Basil-type shooting or loud-check jacket plus cravat, and sometimes Ill have a Sybil and Manuel with me. For something at a hotel I might be at the reception desk, where Ive a talking moose head that lip-syncs with my words. Ill meet and greet guests, or move around tables in the manner youd expect from a top-class Torquay hotelier. Ive a radio-controlled rat, and you might find me stalking that with a shotgun or asking if anybodys seen the Major. Recently Ive been testing another rat that scoots up walls. And then theres my serving trolley, which yields a surprise when I make a grand entrance and lift the cloche cover. One prop I could do with is an Austin 1300 estate, as in Basils car-thrashing scene, though an 1100
Have I ever met John Cleese? Not in person, though Ive communicated with him by email, when he said: You really do look like me. Ive done stuff on stage with Andrew Sachs, the real Manuel; hes a nice man.
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