A Bit Of Bully
Feature from 2011
It is fair to say that when you go on holiday, you don’t expect to meet someone famous. You certainly don’t expect to meet someone who is considered a legend. Someone who was part of your TV schedule as you were growing up? Sunday evening was never complete without a bit of Bully!!
I was lucky enough to meet with Jim Bowen recently, during his Bullseye run at the Edinburgh Fringe. A fantastic night was had by all and a truly modest man who spent time chatting with the public.
I took this chance to ask Mr Bowen if he had any stories or memories about Morecambe and Wise. Enthusiastically he acknowledged what a fine act they were and went on to describe how a chance meeting with Eric help in his own career.
When Eric and Ernie had first flirted with television in 1954, their very first series was buried by the press. Many reviews were scathing and it was rumored that Eric carried a certain newspaper cutting with him to remind him just how far they had come, and how far they had to fall.
A similar story could have, and probably did, happen to most budding comedians and it certainly happened to Jim Bowen.
“I only met Eric once,” he told me, “it was in 1981 just after the first series of Bullseye had been recorded and transmitted.”
“The press had annihilated me, buried me. It was a Saturday when I read it. I said to my wife that I was going out, I needed some air. As I left I commented ‘are we in this business to be decimated?’ It really was a vitriolic attack on the whole thing.”
“I lived around Morecambe and so went into the town and headed for the Midland Hotel. It was one of my watering holes at the time and I went straight into the cocktail bar.”
“I was in there with my back to the room, ordering a drink when I heard this voice from behind saying ‘Hello Sunshine’.”
“I recognised the legendary Eric Morecambe straight away. I thought to myself ‘God this is all I need’. The country’s most popular comedian seeing me on the night after I’d been buried by the press.”
He walked up to me and made things worse by saying he had seen the papers and that meant he had read the reviews.
“I turned around and there was the lovely Eric.” Jim continued, “He said ‘come on old son bring your pint over here’. I went across and sat down with him and his driver; I remember and the car EM100 outside.”
“I said ‘Eric why are we in this business to be decimated like that?’ I was really gobsmacked by what the papers had said about the show. He said ‘listen sunshine let me tell you something, the most difficult thing to find in anybodies house is yesterdays newspaper.’”
“I thought what a lovely thing to say.”
“Eric said ‘we were buried. We were described by the press as a television set is the box they buried Morecambe and Wise in
, so don’t you worry about it, just get on with it.’”
“We had a really good chat. He made me feel much better and gave me determination to continue. Sadly I never saw him again. That’s my one endearing memory of Eric, a lovely lovely man. He just generated positivity and joy.”
Jim Bowen has included this story in his autobiography “Right Place Right Time” which can be found at Amazon. Click here to go to Amazon
We would like to thank Jim for taking the time to chat to us and for telling us this great story.
© morecambeandwise.com 2011