Morecambe - The Play - Interview
Feature from 2009
Now on an extended tour around the UK after wowing audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe, the one-man show Morecambe will be taking its place in the West End for the Christmas season.
Bob as Eric
As more dates are added and the show becomes the ‘must see’ entertainment event, just what goes into making such a popular show?
We caught up with Bob Golding (the man charged with portraying Eric), Tim Whitnall (the writer) and Guy Masterson(the director) just after another successful performance.
“It started as an idea, many years ago.” Explains Guy.“ Bob and I had this idea but there are the obvious problems with putting on anything like this.”
“How do you do it without upsetting someone, after all, we are taking about Eric Morecambe. You have to be very careful.”
“Another problem was who do you get to write the play?”
The man they got was Tim Whitnall, who bob had previously worked with and had received critical aclaim for writing plays such as “the sociable plover “and “the fabulist”.
“Our main goal was to get it ready for Edinburgh. We thought they may be a small tour after that, but we had no idea how popular it would become.”
Another challenge with this kind of play was getting the facts right, and it seems they put a lot of work into that too.
“I read loads of books, talked to loads of people and even went over to Morecambe and did the Eric Morecambe walk.” Tim explains.
“I walked around the Winter Gardens, through the back streets and went to Christie Avenue with the yellow plaque.”
“I checked and double checked things because there are a lot of things that are told differently from book to book.”
With the facts now in place, there still needed to be a story in there, and of course entertainment.
“That was the hard part.” Tim confesses. “Getting the facts in the right order and still making the whole thing entertaining. This is in essence a biographical play, so we had to cover everything.”
“We went through a lot of different versions of the play before we ended up with this one. Some longer, some shorter, some packed with jokes, some with hardly any in.”
“It was a really difficult task, but I think we have got the ideal balance now.” Guy adds.
“We wanted to put things in there that many people might not have known about Eric and Ernie. Things like Running Wild and the accident at Thames that jolted his heart. How they got things wrong and how they continued to push onward despite the knockbacks.”
“We also wanted things in there that people would instantly recognise. Just simple things like slapping the back of your neck, or a catch phrase. People just loved them, and always applaud when they get one. It’s as though they have missed them all these years.”
“We peppered them in throughout, and it seems to have worked.” Tim agrees.
“It’s a great balance from the serious or factual stuff.” Bob continues.
“It amazes us when the clip is played with the news reader explaining the 28 million viewers for the Christmas show and the audience sometimes gasp. They can’t believe it, and yet it’s true. That was more than half the population – watching one show.”
Were there any spooky moment during the making of this show? Sure there was, but in a nice way. Bob reveals the story;
“I had searched everywhere for a pair of glasses. They are such an icon that I had to get them right. Everywhere I looked I couldn’t find anything that came even close.”
“I eventually found a place in St. Albans called RetroSpecs that could source different models and shapes, and eventually I found the perfect set.”
“I ordered them and because they were special, they had to be made in America and shipped back. They turned up and they were just right. It was another piece falling into place.”
“Just after one of our shows a man called Dave Miles (founder of the Eric Morecambe Appreciation Society ) turned up with a pair of glasses that belonged to Eric. I tried them on and managed to catch a glimpse of the makers name; American Eyewear, the exact same company that had made mine. I got a little tingle down my back when that happened.”
With the show now on tour, we recommend you see it if it comes near you. Or indeed, if it doesn’t. Get out and book your tickets today.
We would like to thank Bob, Tim and Guy for giving this interview.
© morecambeandwise.com 2009