Morecambe and Wise Interview (1971)
Eric: We dressed up as girls, but we didn’t fool them for one minute.
Ern: But it was fun trying to. I still prefer dressing as a girl really. We’ve been very fortunate… it’s been a gradual process. So, for want of a better expression, we’ve been able to take the accolades when one becomes this star thing. We started off from nothing… it’s taken us thirty years to get where we are. And that’s a long straight road.
Eric: We’re not big-headed about it… I mean there’s nothing to be big-headed about.
Ern : He’d look stupid with a big head anyway. He’s only a little fella.
You don’t appear to have made such a successful transition form TV to films do you?
Ern: We are making a film next year
Eric: Yes, we are transitioning then.
Ern: I agree that we have not made the transition, but the films have died on us really. As you know they’re in such a bad way now.
Eric: When you get something like “Till Death Us Do Part”, “On The Buses” and “Up Pompeii”, which come direct from TV, the story is already there. But with Morecambe and Wise we are a variety show. And we can’t put on to film a stand-up spot, then a sketch, and then another routine with a romp at the end.
Ern: Well, one’s saying that, but we don’t really know. We don’t think we can from a professional point of view.
Eric: Films? Exactly the same a TV. Bigger, that’s all.
Ern: I don’t know what sort of film we would do these days.
Eric: We’ve got to have some form of story going through it. I think it will be the usual kind of story where Ernie is oversexed, and he drives the women wild.
Ern: The thing is, there is a lot of cliché stuff today. I think we would do a legitimate type story like we do on television… prisoner of war, house of terror. Comedy-horror. Anything like that.
Eric: What we’ve got to do is give the public what they want. Keep it sharp, a lot of speed, and try to keep it to a “U” certificate. What I would like to do is take your audience… and this depends on your director… and you start off and its nothing else but speed, speed. And I’m not just talking about talking fast; cutting and editing too. Real sharp.
Ern: Like we get on TV.
Do you still get nervous before appearing?
Eric: It’s very simple… he faints… I carry him off….
How about rehearsing and ad-libbing?
Eric: We have a set routine. It’s basic. Half an hour before the show we get together in the dressing, and throw everybody out. We go through it a couple of times. Quite honestly, we don’t do a lot of ad-libbing at all unless something happens which one can ad-lib. There is a lot of ad-lib in the act, but we’ve done it over the years.
Ern: A lot of people say to me that the second house Saturday night is the best one to come to, but I think possibly the first time on is the best. We’re not very sure of it, you see, and consequently we probably do more ad-libbing then. We have to rehearse… I was only saying that today. I said to him “Goodness, we did this at Sheffield a couple of weeks ago. I still can’t remember it. We’ll have to run it through.” We could go out there, but to really do it well we have to run it all through. There’s a lot of things to fit in. If we didn’t have a refresher there would be gaps and we’d think “oh we missed that out.”.
Which comedians do you like?
Eric: Each other. Him and me…. HIM.
Ern: Frankie Howard, Tommy Cooper, Dave Allen… the professionals. The good people.
Eric: I wouldn’t work with a comedian, it becomes competitive. I would have liked to have seen somebody like W.C. Fields, Buster Keaton. I would have liked to see them in theatres where they gave you half-an-hour and really entertained you.
Ern: I tell you who we saw last night, Sid Field’s son. Looks exactly like his dad. Same face. We met him at the TV studio. We worked with his father. We worked with him in “Striking A Note” in…. 1933, ‘34. That’s thirty years isn’t it? (Whispering) ’33, ’53, ’53….
Eric: You can tell who works the money out can’t you?
© Southampton Evening Echo 1971