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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 August 2005, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Cowell lookalike trades on his face
By Katherine O'Shea

Simon Cowell lookalike and IT worker Kevin Yeandel reveals how posing as the real record producer has prompted him to rethink his career.

Strange girls singing to him in the street is all in a day's work for Kevin Yeandel - and he couldn't be happier about it.

With his striking resemblance to television's Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell, the 35-year-old IT expert has made his living as a celebrity lookalike.

Kevin Yeandel
Kevin Yeandel's face may be his fortune
But now he has set his sights on the music industry - for real. He is determined to stop pretending and actually make it as a record producer.

"When I do a gig, I do become Simon Cowell, as it were, mentally," explains the Newcastle-based documents manager.

With a little help from black hair dye, brown contact lenses and an intensive method-acting course, Mr Yeandel says he has become the number one Cowell impersonator in the UK.

But success has brought new insights and new ambitions.

I do a lot of shouting into a hotel pillow
Kevin Yeandel

There is a vast difference between the social status of an IT expert and that of Simon Cowell, he explains.

"As Simon, you get treated like a king," he says.

So Mr Yeandel decided it was time to trade IT for MTV.

He has now started a music management company called Criminal Management and is developing his record industry contacts.

Kevin Yeandel and Simon Cowell
Kevin Yeandel met Simon Cowell at the X-Factor studio

But Mr Yeandel may have an advantage over other aspiring music managers - his looks.

With members of the public constantly approaching him in the street, he has access to vast amounts of untapped talent.

And already he has promising young singers on his books.

He also met many influential people - including the real Simon Cowell - when he appeared on ITV's X-Factor as a lookalike answering the phones.

Accidental double act

Unlike most X-Factor contestants, Mr Yeandel enjoyed meeting the music boss.

"I haven't got a bad word to say about Simon," he says, "He's a lovely guy."

When people first told Mr Yeandel he looked like Simon Cowell he was baffled and had to look him up on the internet.

But he didn't think anything of it until he went out to a local pub with a work friend - who happens to look like Cowell's Pop Idol colleague Pete Waterman.

Simon Cowell with Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh
Cowell is on ITV1's The X Factor with Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh
"We couldn't believe it. We had three lines of girls queuing up, then a lovely-looking girl started singing to us," he says.

Mr Yeandel immediately saw the earning potential, and began developing his persona in earnest, which included investing in a large collection of black t-shirts.

'Dance Idol'

He turned his front room into a mock ITV studio and studied old episodes of Pop Idol in an effort to master Cowell's mannerisms and postures.

The biggest challenge was his voice - it is much higher pitched than Simon Cowell's.

Mr Yeandel's strategy is to shout himself hoarse just before a gig.

"Richard Burton used to go do a lot of shouting in the hills. I do a lot of shouting in a hotel pillow," he says. "It works."

And after signing with a few agencies, the work started coming in.

It's messing with people's careers. People put their life into this stuff
Kevin Yeandel

"We got asked to do a dance competition called Dance Idol and it went from there."

He now gets paid 400-600 per competition as a Simon Cowell lookalike.

He has also made numerous television appearances and his spoof pop video reached number 34 on the charts.

But do people really believe the act?

"Unless they're really stupid or really drunk, they don't actually think I am Simon Cowell," Mr Yeandel says.

Scary moments

"But they do think I'm related to him. They assume I have influence in the industry," he says.

Of course he doesn't always get a kindly reception.

"I've had some scary moments. In a competition in Redditch a comment of mine went down badly - the singer and her mother ended up chasing me down the street."

But unlike the real Cowell, Mr Yeandel prefers not to deflate people. He tries to be constructive with his comments.

"They're not meant to be nasty. Usually I tell the truth. It's messing with people's careers - people put their life into this stuff."

But what does the real Simon Cowell think?

He offered Mr Yeandel some trademark advice:

"Shrink two inches. Find a sun-bed. Get better looking."


SEE ALSO:
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11 Aug 05 |  Entertainment
Cowell plans life after Pop Idol
31 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
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