I’m a song and dance man – not a comic
Criticism doesn’t affect me in the same way as it does Eric. I’m not as sensitive as he is; I don’t carry it with me. I mean I don’t like criticism, nobody likes criticism.
If you think the critic is right then I’ll go along with it, but in many instances I don’t think they are right. And quite honestly the critic makes an observation we’ve made six months before. We knew what was happening, maybe we were getting stuck in the same old formats, and then somebody draws our attention to it six months after we realised what was going to happen.
We’re always aware of the moving scene, trying to keep up with it, trying to stay on top.
Oh yes, they’re quite entitles to say we’re blue occasionally. But I think the general appeal, the general impression, is that we’re very clean, that we’re family entertainers, but yes we do have the occasional shall we say music hall vulgarity. I think this is our type; I mean we are variety.
The critics can be cruel, too. I remember 1954… I didn’t think the show was that bad. I’m sure it wasn’t. But I mean we didn’t have the experience. And let’s face it, we were terrified.
It’s a man called Ronny Waldmann who gave us our first big break then, and he had every confidence in us, and I thinks it’s been well justified. He said we’d be great TV comedians; he saw it, but it wasn’t put on screen. We seemed to become the butt of everyone’s criticism.
I think it was a lesson; we didn’t do any TV for a long time after that, but we came back. It’s experience and professionalism that counts.
I think we want to be a successful team, and we have been and we are and that’s it. I think it’s our vocation in life. We split straight down the middle; there’s no agreements or contracts or anything, just straight down the middle.
Sometimes we don’t agree; we have professional arguments, but that’s all.
I suppose we’d still like to do a Hollywood film, but I think that’s a dream of Eric’s, isn’t it? It’s from childhood. I don’t think Hollywood exists any more, does it? All the action’s here. They’re all coming on our show. We’ve got our own Hollywood.
As a matter of fact we make more money from television and in the theatre than we would ever do from films. We have to keep performing; we mustn’t lose audience contact. Its therapy, we have to have an audience.
People think I look after Eric; if I go into a shop five minutes after he’s been in they’ll tell me ‘He bought this and this, and a quarter of those. Was that all right?’
I am the businessman, though, I suppose. I never had any education, going on the stage at thirteen, and it’s amazing that I can hold my own, converse with the people at the top, because the higher you get the cleverer they are. I don’t have much erudition; I’d like to have a vat fund of knowledge, I’d like to be able to speak French, for instance, but you can’t have everything can you?
© Slough Evening Mail 1971