Roderick "Rory" Keith Ogilvy Bremner,FKC (born 6 April 1961) is a Scottish impressionist and comedian, noted for his work in political satire and impressions of British public figures. He is also known for his work on Mock the Week as a panellist (for Series 1 and 2), award-winning show Rory Bremner...Who Else? and sketch comedy series Bremner, Bird and Fortune, which featured veteran comedians John Bird and John Fortune.
Born in Edinburgh, Rory Bremner was born to Major Donald Stuart Ogilvy Bremner (December 1907-1979) (who was 53 years old at Rory's birth) and his second wife Ann Simpson (1922-2001). He has an older brother and an older half-sister (from his father's first marriage). Bremner was educated at Clifton Hall School and Wellington College and then studied Modern Languages at King's College London, graduating with a degree in French and German in 1984.
While at university, Bremner worked in the cabaret circuit in the evenings and was involved in the drama club. He first came into the limelight in 1985, when his single, "N-N-Nineteen Not Out" (released under the name The Commentators) became a big hit in the British charts. It was a parody of Paul Hardcastle's number one hit, "19", with Bremner impersonating cricket commentators, including Richie Benaud and Brian Johnston, and replacing references to the Vietnam War with references to the England cricket team's disastrous 1984 home series against the West Indies in which the England captain David Gower had averaged 19.
Bremner contributed to And There's More, Spitting Image and Week Ending, and by 1987 he had his own BBC 2 show, Now - Something Else. He later moved to Channel 4 with Rory Bremner, Who Else? where his output became more satirical and the sporting commentators gradually came to represent a smaller proportion of his repertoire. Having teamed up with veterans, John Bird and John Fortune, he hosted Bremner, Bird and Fortune, which (along with its predecessor Rory Bremner, Who Else?) won numerous awards. Occasional one-off specials were also shown, with Bremner impersonating Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and various other government figures. In the 1990s he became a semi-regular cameo turn on the Channel 4 improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? and in 2005 he was a team captain on the BBC Two improvisational satire show Mock The Week. Bremner now regularly performed on Sunday AM, impersonating politicians, with a review of recent political events. He has also presented a BBC Radio 4 series, Rory Bremner's International Satirists, in which Bremner talks to comedians and impressionists from various European countries. In September 2009, he presented a BBC Four documentary, Rory Bremner and the Fighting Scots, about the history of Scots serving in the British Army. In the run-up to the 2010 UK General Election, he undertook a 20-date Election Battlebus Tour, his first stand-up comedy tour in five years.
Bremner has translated three operas into English: Der Silbersee by Kurt Weill, Carmen by Georges Bizet and Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. In April 2007, he was involved in The Big Brecht Fest at the Young Vic Theatre in London celebrating the work of German dramatist Bertolt Brecht, where a series of newly translated versions of some of his short plays were performed. One of the plays that was staged, the short comedy of manners A Respectable Wedding, was newly translated by Bremner, who also penned the title to the series. His translation had a positive reception from critics, although it did draw the ire of some for the removal of any class-conflict edge to the play, directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins as a squirming farce that relies heavily on the comic value of embarrassment.
Bremner took part in the 2011 series of Strictly Come Dancing. His dance partner in the series was Erin Boag.
He appeared on the programme on BBC Four in 2012 called "The Story of Light Entertainment", when it was about impressionists.
In January 2013, he began hosting a new Channel 4 quiz show, Face the Clock.
Bremner's first marriage was to Susan Shackleton, a teacher, in 1987; the couple divorced in 1995. On 11 September 1999, Bremner married Tessa Campbell Fraser, and they have two daughters. Bremner supported Reg Keys in the 2005 election when he stood against Tony Blair as an anti-war candidate.
Bremner speaks French and German and studied Russian at O-level. He was awarded Honorary Life Membership of King's College London Students' Union in the early 2000s. In 2005 he was made a Fellow of his alma mater King's College London. Additionally, he was awarded an honorary fellowship by Queen Mary, University of London in 2008.
He was placed at 49 on ITV's list of TV's 50 Greatest Stars, and in 2008 received the James Joyce Award of the Literary and Historical Society.
Bremner has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and has openly addressed it in interviews. In May 2011, he presented a short programme "ADHD and Me" on Radio 4 about living and coping with the condition.
In 2009, Bremner was the subject of the series Who Do You Think You Are? in a quest to research about his father, whom he barely knew. His father had served in the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment during the war and was often away from home. Bremner travelled to 's-Hertogenbosch, the Dutch city liberated by the East Lancs, amongst other places to retrace his father's footsteps. Together with his brother, they traced their father's ancestry and discovered that their great-grandfather John Ogilvy had served as a surgeon general during the Crimean War and was later posted to various British colonies.
Rory Goes to Holyrood:
In 2013, Bremner presented Rory Goes to Holyrood, a one-off show for BBC Scotland that takes a satirical look at Scottish politics and the independence referendum. The programme was announced in March 2013, with plans for it to be aired later in the year. In a BBC press release for the show, Bremner spoke of his reasons for recording the programme. "Coming back to Scotland in the run-up to the Referendum, I realised I knew almost nothing about Scottish Politics. Time I did. And why is there so little political comedy in Scotland outside the Parliament? Time to make sense (and nonsense) of it all."
The programme -- which featured Bremner presenting a one-off stand-up routine at Edinburgh's Assembly Hall -- aired on 13 June 2013. Bremner subsequently called for there to be more satire in the referendum debate. "There's great humour to be had. There's a lot of big, different characters involved and good arguments, and there are plenty of good Scottish comedians who can have plenty of fun with it. It's far too dangerous to leave it only to the politically minded."