Eric bringing sunshine again

What do you think of it so far? Bob Golding gives a remarkable performance as Eric Morecambe


Duchess Theatre

Catherine Street
London WC2B 5L


AS THE lights faded to black at the Duchess theatre last night the audience rose as one to its feet in tribute to a remarkable performance.

In Guy Masterson's excellently directed Morecambe, Bob Golding does more than impersonate the man - he inhabits him.

Tim Whitnall wrote the show for Golding, a friend of long standing, and it began life on the Edinburgh Fringe, where it was one of the biggest hits of the 2009 festival, playing to sell out houses, garnering rave reviews and winning a Fringe First Award. It now arrives in the West End for a 6 week season before setting off on a 120 date tour.

The play takes us on a whistle stop tour of Morecambe's life, from early success in talent shows, on to meeting Ernie, through National Service as a Bevan Boy down the mines (where the heart condition that would eventually kill him first surfaced), on across the years of Variety, through to the triumphant success of the Morecambe and Wise television series that became a national institution and made Eric a national treasure.


Portraying a national treasure is a risky business, but Golding pulls it off completely.  If the evening was just a collection of Morecambe's mannerisms and re-creation of Eric and Ernie's routines, it would be a disappointment. Golding's performance encompasses much more than this - not least because of the number of other characters he brings to life in the show.  

At one point a beautifully judged Bruce Forsyth suddenly appears from thin air, Michael Grade, Lew Grade, Eddie Braben and a host of others flash by as Morecambe's life unfolds. Golding is clearly also blessed with great comic instinct and ability in his own right, combined with a strong singing voice. He's not a bad hoofer either.

But what of the most important character in Eric's life? Ernie Wise. How do you make a one-man show about half of a double-act? How do you put Ernie up there on the stage? 

The device used is very simple and totally successful. I won't spoil the surprise by giving away how it's done, but it is carried off beautifully and allows a very tender and touching moment towards the end of the evening. Indeed, it is a real achievement of the direction and writing that pathos and comedy are perfectly balanced as the play approaches its inevitable conclusion. 


Key to Morecambe and Wise's success was a ruthless work ethic. They would rehearse and rehearse until they got it perfect. To an audience it looked effortless, but the ease and relaxation came from putting in the hours of preparation. This tribute to Morecambe's life has clearly gone through the same process. The production is seamless, sound is handled particularly well and James Compton (Sound Designer) deserves a particular mention. 

Pacing throughout is ferociously fast and if there is a criticism of the production it would be that we skate across the surface of Morecambe's life, without really revealing any depths. Maybe he didn't have them. He spent his life making people laugh - maybe that was all he wanted to do. 

At the end of this engaging and entertaining show, do I know much more about Morecambe the man? Not a lot. Does it matter? Not a jot. To 17-01-10

Also Swan Theatre, Worcester, Friday and Saturday 29 and 30-1-10

Abigail Sharp