Britain's Most Loved and Best Comedy Double Act

We Interview Suzanne Lloyd


Suzanne Lloyd

As Claudette in the film

With Ernie
Suzanne Lloyd starred in Morecambe and Wise’s 1966 film, That Riviera Touch. Following on from the criticised Magnificent Two, this middle film of three offered by Rank, put Eric and Ern under pressure to deliver.

Suzanne, now retired from acting, kindly gave us her memories of working with the boys.

We understand that you retired from acting in 1974; why was this?
In 1974 I returned to Los Angeles and full time care of my daughter. I was offered films that were to be shot in Europe but frankly I did not want to leave her for long periods of time. She was in school and I did not want to uproot her. I did do some TV on and off but my heart was no longer in the work. It was home with my family.

Are you doing anything currently?
Now I am doing memorabilia shows and work out in acting classes. I exercise regularly and am an avid movie goer. I love to spend time with family and friends and long walks are a real treat.

You appeared in what is considered to be the best of the Morecambe and Wise films made by Rank, can you how you tell us how you got the part?
I did not have to audition for That Riviera Touch. Amazing as that is. There was a body of my work for anyone to see. The Producer, Hugh Stewart, met with me at Pinewood and that was that.

Were you aware of Eric and Ern's work before the film?
I was aware of Eric and Ernie but I had not watched them on TV. I was told they were as funny as Martin and Lewis and indeed they were.

When did you first meet them and what was it like?
We met as we were getting on the plane and we were all a bit nervous with one another which is usual before a film. I'm sure they did not know my work and were wondering who I was and who they were stuck with. We worked in different genres.

The film was not the boys level of comfort. They were improv specialists. They did it once on TV and that was it. In film they had to do it over and over and matching was a nightmare for them both. They were concerned that the spontaneity would not be there and how to keep the takes fresh. My training was film. Theirs was not.

Some times on film sets, there are practical jokes played, did anything like that happen?
No practical jokes on the set when I was there. The boys were very focused.

Eric had a habit of always been 'on', always telling jokes even off camera - is this true?
Eric was not always on. This was hard for them. I cannot stress this enough. They had a lot riding on this film and they knew they were not in their element. But that does not mean there weren't laughs. There were a lot.

The crew had a devil of a time not ruining a take by laughing out loud. And the Kartoum crew and cast would come over to be entertained. They had to stop that because the set was getting too noisy and besides they were drinking all our tea and eating our biscuits.

Do you naturally have a French accent, or did you have lessons?
I studied French for 4 years at the Bishop Strachan School in Toronto so I applied that to the French dialect required for the part of Claudette. No lessons.

Where in the South of France did you film apart from Monaco?
We filmed on the Grand Corniche. The first beach scene was filmed at Juan les Pins Then at some hidden beach. I have no idea where we were but as it was the end of October we were freezing on land as well as in the water.

Did you know Eric couldn't swim - and you tried to get him into the water!
Eric did not have a worry as he knew the water would not be over his head. I remember my stand- in would not go into the water because it was too cold for her; so I had to be in there for hours. I was fine though.

The crew fed me brandy to keep me warm. They were a nice bunch of guys and I really loved the hairdresser and make-up man. We all three became close. But I grew very fond of the hairdresser. I thought her skills were excellent. She taught me a few tricks of the trade.

What time of year was it? were there many tourists around?
When we began shooting at the beginning of October or end of September, the weather was nice but by the end of filming it was cold and everyone but the natives had gone home. I shall always remember the kindness shown by the south of France natives towards me and my child Tracey.

Can you scuba dive, you seemed at home in the water?
There was a sand bar on the deserted beach so the water was never over my head. The water scene was cut so I only had to emerge from the water.

Which is the most memorable scene for you?
I think the balcony scene is my favourite. The boys had a good time with that one. Also in the dining room with Ernie trying to eat frog legs and snails without throwing up. That scene did not require acting.

They cut it to bits but it was very funny when it was shot. Oh and the scene with Eric pouring the coffee and then mixing the coffee and milk in his mouth. I saw the movie recently after all these years and really laughed out loud. He was excellent when the material allowed him to be.

Did they give you any help or advice on how to play a scene for the best comic effect?
They did not give me any advice as to how to make a scene funny. I wish they had. They were concerned about stepping on the director’s toes I think. They did ask me about 'matching' from scene to scene and from time to time we spoke about it. I would have loved it if they had taken me aside and given me some pointers.

Did you socialise with them at any time during the film?
I can't remember socializing with the boys. Their wives were in the South of France and I remember liking them both but my then husband knew Tony Curtis and we hung out with Tony his wife and daughter. I had my daughter with me as well.

Did you visit the casino?
I was too tired at the end of the day to gamble and on the week-ends we went for long drives in the country and ate at wonderful inns.

If you could sum up Eric and Ern - what would you say?
I liked the boys very much. Eric was thoughtful and considerate. Ernie was always smiling. They did not have a mean bone in their bodies. I was saddened to hear when they passed. Too soon for both. I will never forget them or the lunches at pinewood with the stilton cheese on the table.

We would like to thank Suzanne for giving us this interview, and wish her the very best for the future.

© 2007

You may also like:

That Riviera Touch
The second feature film gave Eric and Ern more freedom as well as letting them film in the South of France surrounded by women in bikinis!

Morecambe and Wise Press Packs
As feature films are released, the press are given packs that introduce them to the film. View the press packs here.