THE impersonator, who had her breakthrough on Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year, tells EDWIN GILSON about mimicking famous singers and why she was so nervous on television

IMPRESSIONS are less a career than a way of life for Jess Robinson.

On any given day she might break into an uncanny celebrity impersonation, whether she’s performing a show or motivating herself to do a household chore.

“When I’m on my own and a bit lonely I use different voices to do different things,” she says. “If I need to do the dishes I’ll put on Janet Street Porter’s voice: ‘get on with it’. It’s really sad. I’m a slightly unstable person.”

The nation was introduced to Robinson and her special skill when she took to the Britain’s Got Talent stage earlier this year, reeling off impression after impression. Her first performance on the show was a BGT classic; the awkward chit-chat with the judges, Ant and Dec looking on from the wings with trepidation, and then Robinson wowing the room with a belting rendition (or lots of renditions).

The video of her triumph has been viewed over two million times on YouTube. And yet very few people realised that Robinson had been making a career from Impersonations for years before that. That’s why she was so anxious on the show.

“It was mad. I’ve never been so nervous in my life. Because I was doing it professionally already, I was afraid Simon Cowell would say I was no good and it would affect the rest of my career.”

To make matters worse, the BGT cameras were constantly in her face, asking her how apprehensive she was. “You just have to hype yourself up into a frenzy in that situation,” she says. “It felt like the stakes were high.”

The producers of the TV programme had approached Robinson for four years before she finally agreed to go onto the show. If you were a cynic you’d argue that that fact undermines the tension of the “will they be any good?” moment, but there you go. “I had turned it down because I wanted to do it the old-fashioned way, but it gives you great exposure,” says Robinson of her time in the spotlight.

Robinson grew up in a musical household, which partly explains how she is so able to swing between impressions of Judy Garland and Nicki Minaj, to name two radically different singers. Her mother was a piano teacher who used to tinkle the ivories at Robinson’s school assemblies. Strangely, this led directly to Robinson’s profession.

“First of all it was a defence mechanism,” she explains. “Because of my mum’s role at the school, I was not cool. So I started mimicking her before my friends could. The response I got from that was addictive and intoxicating.”

Still, Robinson didn’t even dream about pursuing impersonation as a career until she was offered a part in the touring show Little Voice; a role that required her to take on a range of different characters including Marilyn Monroe.

“The only people I had ever mimicked before then were my mum and Kate Bush,” laughs Robinson. She’s been travelling around the country since, via a stint on the Radio 4 programme Dead Ringers. Her current show Here Come the Girls is her tribute to the best female singers over the last six decades. “It’s about my own love of music,” she says. “My life is nothing without it.”

Robinson admits she fears upsetting people with her impersonations but she’s hardly the kind of person to let that inhibit her personality or performance. She’s too busy having an absolute blast.

“When I’m on stage,” she says, "I'm having the best time of my life."

Jess Robinson: Here Come the Girls Komedia, Brighton, March 7. For tickets and more information visit or call 01273 647100