Eric & Ernie: A minute with Jim Moir

Saturday 1 January 2011, 09:00

Fiona Wickham Fiona Wickham Editor, TV blog

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Jim Moir (aka Vic Reeves) and Victoria Wood star as Eric Morecambe's parents in the one off drama, Eric & Ernie.

Victoria Wood is also the executive producer of the programme. It was her idea to focus the story on the pair's boyhood friendship when they were child performers in variety shows, and their efforts to get established in the mainstream.

I got a quick chance to ask Jim about his part in the production.

How did you come to be involved in Eric & Ernie?
My agent rang me to go for a reading with Victoria Wood. I didn't feel nervous. I got called back, and then I got a phone call to say yes, you're doing it.

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Was it a laugh working with Victoria, or serious hard work?
It was pretty much work because things moved quite fast during filming, but we did go out a couple of nights. We did some people-watching which was quite good fun.

Which is your favourite Morecambe and Wise sketch?
I seem to remember seeing one years ago when they were watching Frank Sinatra from the side of the stage doing a song. It made me laugh a lot.

Did you like wearing the vintage outfits?
It was like a busman's holiday for me. I could have taken my own wardrobe! [laughs] I like doing period stuff, especially the 1930s.

What was the hardest bit of production?
Nothing really, because it's fun. I think if you like what you're doing, it's not hard. Don't know if acting is hard. I think if you think it is you're in the wrong profession.

What was your favourite moment?
Probably the first scene I filmed when it was torrential rain. Me and Sadie [Eric Morecambe's mum, as played by Victoria Wood], we had to do a tender scene on the bench and then sun suddenly came out. [See video above]. It was the most brilliant sunset. It heralded the rest of the production for me. It was just a great moment.

What touches you the most about this story?
I suppose it was three parts - the Eric and Ernie story and my part as George, he was having to put up with quite a bit with Sadie being away, but he got his life back in the end.

The scene where George and Sadie are sitting with all the people in the area at their house watching Eric and Ernie in their first TV show, Running Wild, and they weren't very good.

I'm not sure if you'd call it touching but it's poignant. It must have been difficult for the parents to have invited the whole neighbourhood round and the show turns out to be a flop.

The film is like a very moving ballad, there are high points and low points. So when you stop crying, you started laughing.

Victoria said she wanted a man to write the script, to capture the authenticity of the men's friendship. What was your first thought when you read the script?
When I first got the script I looked at my part first and I immediately liked him, and then I read the whole story and I thought it was quite gripping and it moves along at a pace. Every word was right, there wasn't any point where I questioned it.

Jim Moir plays George Bartholomew, father of Eric Morecambe, in Eric & Ernie.

Eric & Ernie is on BBC Two at 9pm in England, Scotland and Wales and at 10.35pm in Northern Ireland on Saturday, 1 January.

It's repeated on the BBC HD channel at 10.30pm on Thursday, 6 January.

You can watch classic Morecambe And Wise clips on the BBC Comedy website.

Fiona Wickham is the editor of the BBC TV blog.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    one word "BRILLANT" THE guy who played ernie looked and talked like him also the 2 lads were great as well

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    Comment number 2.

    I have been a lifelong fan of Morcambe and Wise and tonights programme was superb, the guys who played Eric and Ernie deserve an award even down to the voices, Victoria Wood as usual brill and Vic Reeves what a surprise! excellent TV, fabulous acting all round, BBC did it again, Thank You.

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    Comment number 3.

    This play about the two greats was brilliant every actor did a good job well done to you all

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    As a lifelong E&E fan this programme and all those in were just fantastic! This toke me back to my teen years watching M&W show - this was just "Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant"! Well done to all involved in making the show and special thanks to Victoria Wood for getting this off the ground.

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    Comment number 5.

    The best programme to be shown on telly all Christmas, what a fantastic, funny true life story. I haven't laughed so hard in ages, thank you for a great evening of television. You've bought Me Sunshine and a very big smile !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Victoria Wood deserves thanks for bringing this to our screens. The Actors representing the Great Pair at all ages were terrific, a fitting tribute, Thank you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    hi jim
    just like to say what a class piece of tv well over due , just a question as one half of a great double act how much were you influenced by m&w and do you feel that TV comedy has changed in realms of being able to deliver comedy without swearing.
    My favourite joke is the police siren in the back ground and eric looks out of the window and turns to ernie and says "hes not going to sell much ice cream going at that speed"
    thanks Big fan of M&W and R&M( any chance of another series)

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Fantastic show! A brilliant portrayal of the guys we remember and love. A great way to view them from their very beginings, a great job done by Victoria Wood. 10 out of 10 fabulous!

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    Comment number 9.

    What genius casting! Jim (like the red and black pully by the way .... as seen in M&S recently .... "happy Christmas") You were such a brilliant link. I truly believed that Eric was your son and that he WAS Eric because of that link. Just the best thing I've seen for a very long time. Superb vocal performances, such attention to detail and so very, very funny. You made our favourite stars come to life and made a trip down memory lane with two wonderful performers very special indeed. Blindin'!!!! Thanks Victoria .... more please. xxxx

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    A wonderful start to a new year. Can't remember laughing and crying at the same time!
    God Bless All who made it happen. I miss Eric & Ernie all over again.

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    Comment number 11.

    I am proud to have met Eric and Ernie on many occasions - my friend and I were "groupies" and followed them to theatres/clubs around the North of England. I know how much Jim Moir admires them and I am delighted for him that he was able to be part of this wonderful production. All credit to another Northerner, our dear Victoria Wood. Fantastic entertainment and what a fabulous start to the New Year!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    just wonderful, could watch it again and again, thankyou Victoria, well done one and all :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    A brilliant piece of television. The best since Eric and Ernie's last show. Worth every penny of the licence fee. It "brought us sunshine" :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Absolute class thankyou. Jim Moir please keep going you are brilliant.
    Love you
    Felicity Craphard x

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    This is the perfect beginning to the year...BBC at its best.

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    Comment number 16.

    The play about "Eric & Frnie" was absolutely briiliant. Victoria Wood you are very gifted A great script

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    I have been a fan of M&W all my life and i thought this program was very honest in it`s presentation. It was interestingly stated that "northern culture" was not understood by television initially and that M&W were told by the boffins that they knew how to present them on TV. It almost destroyed the act.
    The same thing happened to our local Durham comedian Bobby Thompson (the little waster) when he was put onto TV and told what to do by boffins. His series was a failure-but he was rescued by a BBC producer and got back to Radio and Clubs which was what he understood best.

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    Comment number 18.

    I’m 50 years old and I’ve never done this before. It took me a while to find where I could leave some praise but I’m glad I persisted, although I’m still not sure I’m in the right place.
    Last night’s drama ‘ Eric and Ernie’ was wonderful. My brother, a psychologist, will tell you that emotions are there to tell you something. I ‘told’ last night how much I missed the pair, like favourites uncles who always made you laugh as a kid, a degree of separation from immediate family but loved none the less. Daniel Rigby as Eric was superb - not merely doing an impression of him but portraying a man who didn’t take life too seriously, and didn’t want anyone else to either.
    I’m so grateful to E&E for the memory of being painfully helpless with laughter over the talking Roman bust gag with Glenda Jackson, and the inane grin to camera made by Eric, then Ernie, then the Big Name star, or almost giving Princess Anne the shoulders-to-face slap.
    Congratulations to everyone involved in this production, and especially Victoria Wood for having the idea and seeing it through, getting every detail right along the way.
    (After writing emails to complain about a couple of retailers ideas of ‘sales’ I think a genuinely felt positive communication restores life’s balance...)

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    Comment number 19.

    I absolutely loved this programme. The actors were fabulous, The guys captured Eric and Ernie's mannerisms superbly, the nostalgia was right, the atmosphere was right, in fact I don't think I could find one thing that was wrong with this superb production. I loved Eric and Ernie and still do. I am out of superlatives.... it was just brilliant. Thank you, Thank you...... See, The BBC can do good stuff if it tries hard enough!

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    Comment number 20.

    An excellent portrayal of E&E, showing us that it takes time to work up through the old variety circuit. You didn't get overnight sensations in those days.
    Jim Moir was great casting too. Hope he gets more opportunity to fine tune his acting skills.


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