We Interview Joan Morecambe - page 2
Morecambe and Wise were part of that, striving to make it big. Do you remember what you thought of them, or Eric?
I wasn’t at all taken with Eric but the act was something special. I remember watching from the wings and telling people that one day they would be big stars. They had tremendous talent and were very funny.
Eric was just another friendly performer on the circuit; in fact I took him out looking for a gift to give my current boyfriend. I thought it would be good for a boy to choose a good present for another boy, so I took Eric. Later he held that against me… he always joked about that incident.
Didn’t Eric then pursue you?
Yes, he was very persistent. It seems so strange that he picked me out and decided there and then that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
He used to travel miles to see me if we were both in shows at different locations. He would come off stage and dash to the train station, grab a train to wherever I was, spend a few hours with me and then dash back. Just enough time for a quick sleep before getting up and preparing the show for the next performance.
They never stopped working you know, even back then their work rate was remarkable.
Didn’t you get married in between shows?
Yes, it is something I wouldn’t recommend anyone do, but it obviously worked for us, it was madness.
They had never had holidays and were always touring, but this one time they found they had a few days spare to prepare for a big show in London.
Eric rang me up a few weeks before the show and just said “We could get married then”.
There was no thought about how our lives would change or how we would manage to be a couple when we were both apart so much because of work. He didn’t think about how or when the actual wedding would be arranged or how the reception could be organised. We literally had just two weeks to get things together. I don’t know how Sadie, his mother, managed it.
Somehow it was all flung together. We were married and afterwards we went straight to London so they could do the show. When that was done we then had to go to Sheffield to begin rehearsals for pantomime. We didn’t have a proper honeymoon at all.
Soon after I fell pregnant, which was sad in a way. It meant that we didn’t actually have much time together as a couple. Hardly any time for ourselves as any normal couple would have. We were instantly thrown into family life.
We never had time to go around and visit places, just the two of us, and enjoy ourselves or have a holiday together.
Did the marriage have an impact on the act?
No, but I think at the time Ernie thought it might have. He was upset in a way that Eric had got married and probably worried about how it would affect the act. It would mean that Eric had a family and his attentions might be turned to that.
I always made it clear to them that I would never interfere with the act. I knew they were brilliant and would be big and would have never done anything to change that.
It was maybe the fact that now Eric and I were married, it would mean Ernie being on his own at digs. Eric would travel back to me, but that was his decision. It was like having three people in the act now and I think that gave him the push to get married himself.
Doreen wanted to get married and had been waiting a long time, so that extra little push was all he needed.
Was it a conscious decision to keep touring, even with the baby, or was it a necessity?
It was tremendously hard to tour with a child. Just think about all the things you need for a baby and imagine having to move them around every week. There were no disposable nappies, so everything had to be washed.
We were very very lucky to have such good parents. We had Eric’s mother and father in the North and mine down South, so if we were close enough we could stay with them. That made things far easier. They were so helpful, we could stay when we wanted, leave things there so we didn’t have to carry them about, we were really blessed having such good parents.
Initially that’s why we didn’t rush to set up a home. Partly because we had such good parents and partly because we were still touring.
I don’t think it was a decision at all, it just happened and we got on with it. Eric learned to drive as soon as I got pregnant giving us more options and making it easier to get to one of our parents.
Did you ever think of stopping touring when you got pregnant?
Not for Gail, no. We had always planned to have two children and said when the second one came along, that is when we would look to change things. Not to stop completely, but to maybe just do summer seasons and have a home.
When Gary came along we bought our first home close to my parents. It was a large house so we had it converted into two flats to try and make some money. We had saved like mad to be able to afford it and wanted to get some of it back.
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