It seemed like the inevitable choice. When Don Pardo, the longtime voice of Saturday Night Live since the very beginning, passed away last month, speculation over his successor by and large pointed towards the one man who has professionally imitated Pardo in the past, former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond. Today NBC announced (via USA Today and the New York Times) that Hammond will, in fact, take over as the show's new announcer.
Said SNL creator Lorne Michaels to NYT:
"There were a lot of sweet ideas about carrying on with Don somehow... Because everyone has a Pardo impression. But he had the greatest run and he's a completely beloved figure. So I thought: Don't turn this into something else. That period ended."
Hammond was a regular on SNL from 1995 until 2009, and during his tenure (still the longest run ever for a cast member) reportedly did over 100 celebrity impersonations — the most famous ones arguably being Sean Connery (opposite Will Ferrell on "Celebrity Jeopardy") and then-president Bill Clinton. He would also sometimes quietly fill in for Pardo. (For whatever reason, we can't embed Yahoo's SNL clips, but if you feel so inclined, check out this playlist of Darrell Hammond's best moments.)
Hammond's first night will be September 27th, SNL's 40th season premiere ("And now, here's your host, Chris Pratt"). Other new cast members include 20-year-old standup Pete Davison ("handpicked by Lorne Michaels") and the return of Michael Che, who was a writer for SNL last season before going to The Daily Show this summer as an on-air "Senior" Correspondent. He's now back at SNL — this time as co-host of "Weekend Update" alongside Colin Jost. (Cecily Strong will remain a cast member.)
Rounding out the cast changes: last season's newcomers John Milhiser, Noël Wells, and Brooks Wheelan were let go, Mike O'Brien is back in the writers' room, and Nasim Pedrad left to star in Mulaney.