Broadcaster, actor and comedian Alexander Armstrong is entertaining millions with his impressions of singing stars – inspired by the memory of a friend who lost his life to depression.
Pointless host Alexander has delighted viewers with performances as Johnny Cash, Johnny Rotten and Barry Manilow on ITV Saturday night show Your Face Sounds Familiar.
And last Saturday (July 27) he wowed judges with his take on mighty opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. They gave him a perfect score of three 10s – powering him through to the show’s final.
Now he has spoken about what motivated him to take part: to raise awareness of depression, after his friend Charlie Waller took his own life at the age of 28.
Alexander’s chosen charity on the show is the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, set up by Charlie’s family to equip young people to look after their mental wellbeing and to support training for experts.
“Charlie was an amazing guy. He was the life and soul of the party, a gifted sportsman and had a successful career as an advertising executive,” Alexander said.
“People were drawn to him. Charlie lit up the room when he walked in. Shortly before took his life he was best man at the wedding of his younger brother Rik, and was in his element.
“It was a devastating shock to learn that he had killed himself. He would have been 45 this year.”
Alexander is patron of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust and seized the chance to go on Your Face Sounds Familiar to promote its work.
“Shockingly, depression is the biggest killer of men aged under 35 in Britain – not illness, not road accidents, but depression.
“Yet too few people talk about it or know what to do to help. The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust is doing fabulous work to change that and I’ll do all I can to support it – even dress as Madonna if necessary!”
Each week on the show Alexander and his fellow celebrities are given a different superstar to impersonate, being awarded points by the panel of judges and viewers at home.
The one with the highest score at the end wins a cash prize for their chosen charity.
Marian Spain, chief executive of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, said: “Alexander has campaigned tirelessly for the trust since it was first established.
“Dressing up as Johnny Rotten, fake spots and all, shows there is nothing he wouldn’t do for us – and everyone at the trust is rooting for him.
“Thanks to Alexander, millions of people are learning about the trust’s key messages – that people with depression do not have to suffer in silence and there is support out there.
“As a result, more people will understand the symptoms of depression and seek help, and fewer people will have to go through the same trauma as Charlie, his friends and family.”