We Interview Mike Fountain - page 2
Where is the brown Rolls now?
It is owned by three businessmen at the moment, who I think are looking to sell it. We were trying to get the Midland Hotel here in Morecambe interested in it, but as yet they don’t seem too keen. It would be great if they could get it and use it for weddings at the Hotel, imagine the publicity of that! If the Midland doesn’t want it then I think it should be put in a museum like the one in Beaulieu. At last there it could be appreciated for what it is, a piece of show business history.
It has been mentioned in a documentary that Eric had a Frank Zappa tape in the car, did he like Frank Zappa, or what was his taste in music?
It was there yes. Eric enjoyed all sorts of music, some pop music, classical, big band, jazz, very diverse in his tastes.
The tape was an old 8-track. Remember them, before cassettes; they were big 6 x 4 things. The 8-track was in the grey Rolls though and not in the brown one. He also had an 8-track at home so he could play it there.
Many of the ideas for musical sketches came about because he would be listening to something in the car. All of a sudden something would click and he would ask for a piece of paper and write it down.
Did he bounce ideas off of you in the car?
Not so much ideas. It would be something playing or even something he saw out of the window and he would start writing it down. He wasn’t a joke man, he never told jokes in a conventional sense. Eric was more of a funny line man, he would see something and out of it would come a funny line.
You could do a journey with him and it would be very quiet. It all depended on what sort of mood he was in. After a few years I could tell the mood he was in so knew what the journey would be like. I knew when to chat about football or the news, and when he just wanted to have a quiet journey.
Could you tell how a show had gone by his mood on the way back?
Not really. He always used to ask everyone who went. Often there was Joan, Gary, Stephen, Gail and myself of course. As soon as he was in the car he’d want to know what we thought of the show. He was a real perfectionist.
The thing that annoyed him most was when something went wrong that was not his fault. He would get so annoyed if something technical went wrong and ruined the sketch. Eric and Ern had done their bit, rehearsed and rehearsed, only to have some technical fault ruin it. He used to say it was difficult to get spontaneous laughs if you have to do the sketch again.
Did Eric ever get noticed during a trip?
It depends what car we were in. If you were in a great big Rolls with the number plate EM 100 – yes!
There were quite a few times that stuck in my mind. We were coming out of Newcastle after doing a show with Ernie and I noticed these blue lights at the back of us. I hadn’t done anything but they got nearer and nearer until eventually they passed us, and the stop sign came on.
Eric said “What have you done now! Have you been speeding!”
I hadn’t, so we pulled up and policeman gets out and comes over the car. He peered in and said; “Excuse me Mr. Morecambe, can I have your autograph – we’ve just stopped Ernie down the road and got his, so we knew you’d be coming….”
The other one I remember was in London. We were at the back of St. Pancreas and this taxi came out of a side road and cut me up. I braked hard to miss him and the air was blue. Eric was swearing and cursing and eventually at some traffic lights we pulled up behind him.
Eric, still seething and started belting on the horn at him which caused the taxi driver to get out. Eric opened the door and got out as well, all ready to tell the taxi driver what he thought about his driving. As he got out he was recognised by some kids on the side of the road who shouted;
“Go on Mr Morecambe – give him a punch!”
The taxi driver then realised who it was and apologised.
© morecambeandwise.com 2007