Gary Morecambe On His New Book
InterviewGary Morecambe’s new book, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone is due to be released in October, we caught up with him to get more details….
Can you tell us the process of bringing out such a book? The 25th anniversary must have been the starting point, where did you go from there?
I started thinking about doing an anniversary book about two years ago. Because of a long involvement with M&W which has included many publications, I tend these days to need a reason to do something: it has to go beyond me just wanting to publish another book. The thought of a 25th anniversary book to celebrate my father’s life greatly appealed to me and my publisher, HarperCollins. I then took it a step further and thought how wonderful it would be if Dame Judi Dench – who worked and socialised with my parents – wrote a foreword. Within 24 hours she’d got back and said yes! After that it was just a case of getting on with it – fleshing out the bones and creating something new and exciting.
How long did it take to complete?
It took about nine months to have in some kind of decent shape: but as I’m sure you’ll know, a project of this sort has no end date….well, not until the editor physically takes the manuscript away from you! There are always bits to add – delayed thoughts in the middle of the night that you rush to add in the following morning.
Was there anything you would have liked to include but just didn’t have the time or information?
Because I continually hear different stories about my father, and my father and Ernie, there was always going to be things that could be added but that time did not allow. Also photos. I have some truly wonderful photos for the book, many of them never before seen even by me! But even all the photos have to be edited down otherwise we’d have needed a second volume for the book! But it is frustrating as I want to share these things with everyone.
Does it solely concentrate on Eric, because he and Ernie were together for over 40 years and it must have been difficult not drifting to the partnership?
The book is mostly about Eric, but obviously it is impossible to talk for very long about Eric without bringing in Ernie, and then once you do that then very quickly there is Eddie Braben and a whole host of people that were a part of making M&W the icons they remain. And they are all in this book, plus wonderfully fresh interviews and comment from the like of Michael Parkinson and Paul Merton.
How does the title (The Life and Works) fit in, will there be examples of released or unreleased work?
Well, the main title for the book is: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone! which was Eric’s oft repeated phrase. But the book does set out to comprise his life and work.
It’s an unusual book insomuch as my own writing represents only about a third of the book – the rest is Eric on himself in rare pieces found, including unpublished articles (or publications for very small publications). Then there is the miscellany section – Eric on fishing and Eric on his own childhood. The publishers made it clear to me that they wanted everything in it including the kitchen sink! That’s what I’ve striven to do. After William Cook’s two excellent books (Unseen and then Untold), I wanted to do something that only I could do, and that is give a portrayal from the inside as opposed to the outside. Writers looking in, like William, can do a wonderful job, but understandably they don’t have the access that I have to both material and people related to Eric’s life. I guess that is my legacy, or inheritance, and one I enjoy sharing with the public.
As we ourselves continue researching, do you, like us, find it amazing that there is always something new to discover, and in fact, did you find out anything you didn’t know during your research?
I agree that there seems to always be something new to discover about the boys. One of the most fascinating elements for me personally in researching this book– and it was an absolute first – was returning to Morecambe and interviewing several former dance class mates and school chums of Eric. Not only did it give me an insight to his childhood, but also to his personality and that of his parents. Those interviews, for which I’m eternally grateful, transformed me to a place where I’d never been before – namely Eric’s background and general upbringing. Aligned to this was meeting up with someone in showbiz who was not only down the mines with Eric as a boy, but who shared digs with him! Fascinating stuff. I think now that I have the clearest and fullest picture of Eric’s life to date, and I hope that comes across in the text.
The press release mentions that some of the content will be in Eric’s own words; can you say what that might be? Is it more of the note books or diary seen in previous books?
There will be much more extensive use of the diaries to give a fuller perspective of his life at that time when he was building up to his first heart attack and the immediate period following on from that. But there are other pieces, too. One of my favourites is a fictional piece by Eric as he watches a Lord’s Taverners’ charity cricket match. It’s quite bizarre!
© morecambeandwise.com 2009