Impressionist, comedian, actor and astronomy enthusiast Jon Culshaw tells Joanna Davis about the cast of familiar characters to expect at his west Dorset show

AS I speak to Jon Culshaw, voice of a hundred voices, he's back home in Lancashire bemoaning the current state of February's notoriously rainy weather.

"I'm back in my home county enjoying the local wind and rain," he grouses.

Jon's Great British Take Off tour has already taken him across the country, previously touring to Weymouth Pavilion, a town he'd never visited before. This time around he's going to take in Bridport Electric Palace for the first time with the show calling into the town's beautiful art deco theatre on March 26.

"I've passed through the area before but I've never been to Bridport," Jon says.

"I've wanted to get into that west Dorset area for a long time. One of the joys of doing this show is that it gets you to all these different places. There's so many wonderful theatres to visit."

Last time on tour Jon famously carried out some pranks on unsuspecting pizza takeaway outlets where, live on stage, he would phone up for a pizza in the voice of Ozzy Osbourne or Sir David Attenborough.

This time around he's giving the pizza prank a rest and is promising something different.

"I'll have a whole new lot of characters, new topicality and new anecdotes. Because we keep it spontaneous it goes with the flow and it's always guided by the audience. They keep it ebbing and flowing and they never let you down when they request impressions."

I ask Jon who's top of the list when it comes to requests for impressions.

"Boris (Johnson) and (Donald) Trump are always very popular. It's quite interesting with the candidates for new Labour leader coming through, you've got Sir Keir Starmer who always sounds bunged up and befuddled, I'm working on him!"

I suggest to Jon that the recent shifting political landscape we've been living in has been perfect for an impressionist.

"People's appetite for news seems to have increased and their appetite for social media has heightened everything," he said. "Today everybody seems to have an opinion on everything."

One of the most requested impressions among overseas celebrities is Russell Crowe, Jon said.

"Morgan Freeman is also popular one. His voice works really well with the theatre acoustics. You can do him as a Jedi knight, which is quite entertaining."

Jon will be accompanied on the road by legendary comedy producer and author Bill Dare. The pair go back a long way.

"He's a great mate and it's much more fun going on tour with a mate," Jon said. "We've worked together for 20 years. When I did the Salisbury Arts Festival I was interviewed by a journalist and that set me up quite well. We thought that would work quite well on stage as a way of going through all the characters with Bill interviewing me as the journalist."

Later in the year 'the band will be back together', as Jon says, for Dead Ringers Live. Reunited with Lewis MacLeod. Jan Ravens. Duncan Wisbey, all fellow impressionists on the BBC Radio 4 political sketch show, Jon and the gang will call into Lighthouse, Poole, on May 5.

"We did a Dead Ringers show at the Barbican last year, we do all the typical stuff in it, we have a look back at the political three act Shakespearean drama we've seen recently of David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and everything in between. And we also have a look at some of the all time favourite sketches we've done. It's pretty different to the radio recording, not so disciplined with more of a stand-up feel to it. It'll be nice to get back together with the band," Jon say.

While impressionism is his talent, astronomy is Jon's passion. He recently hosted a show in the planetarium of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

"It's still a hobby but I do like to be a bit of a science communication outreach for astronomy. At the Planetarium I took people on a tour of the solar system. It all ended at the Greenwich Tavern which was a good place." I find it all very relaxing and I love bringing in the scientist Brian Cox for it."

But back on the day job, Jon tells me one of his favourite things to do on his Great British Take Off is to interact with any members of the audience coming to see him.

He said: "I tell people it's like coming to have a chat in the living room and sitting down with all your favourite characters. One of my favourite bits is coming to the front of the theatre to have a chat with everyone as they come out. It's lovely to meet all the different people who come along."

*Jon Culshaw: The Great British Take Off, Thursday, March 26, Bridport Electric Palace. Call the box office for tickets.